The social information age

Dwarfed by the conflagration at Lakeland Mills Monday night, (April 23) were the Northern Lights.

Bill Phillips

Prince George Free Press

Dwarfed by the conflagration at Lakeland Mills Monday night, (April 23) were the Northern Lights.

It was kind of surreal as I raced to the scene of the fire and watched the dancing lights in the northern sky. The Northern Lights are always spectacular and mesmerizing.

However, on Monday, a much more pressing task was at hand.

For the media, covering such an event is challenging and exhilarating all at the same time. With the Internet so prevalent in today’s news gathering, everyone is scrambling to get information out, and quickly.

I have to tip my hat the folks at the Citizen who printed off copies of their paper and then were distributing them to fire onlookers as the events unfolded. It’s a challenge to get news out quickly online, but even more challenging to get it out quickly in print.

The other challenge is to get accurate information out and, with the speed of the Internet, the mantra now, is too often, “post now, correct as you go.”

There is an inherent danger in doing that, which is, of course, publishing incorrect information.

With the “virality” of news on the web, news like a big fire and explosion travel very, very fast. Wrong information can go far and wide faster than we can take it back.

Monday night’s fire was a prime example. Fire Chief John Lane announced shortly after 11 p.m. that there were five people unaccounted for. Shortly after that announcement I headed back to the office and posted that to our Facebook page. Within minutes there was a posting on our Facebook page saying that CKPG was reporting all were accounted for. All this within 15 or 20 minutes.

I didn’t have it confirmed that were accounted for, but pulled the “five missing” tag from the headline.

As media, we have to keep in mind that it’s not only the public at large who may be seeking information, but family and friends of those involved. The wrong information can be devastating.

Getting the right information is what our role really is in times of crisis … not getting the wrong information first.

Having said that I think the Prince George media did a stellar job of covering the explosion and fire.

Checking websites, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, etc. Monday night I didn’t encounter any wildly speculative or sensational stories from the Prince George media.

You can check our website for a “storified” account of the night’s social media traffic, which is basically a conglomeration of posts from all sorts of people regarding the blaze. It’s fascinating to see how far and how quickly the news travelled in this, the social information age.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

District of Vanderhoof Mayor Gerry Thiessen recently photographed the town’s original cemetery — now completely overgrown — among the trails behind the Vanderhoof Museum and Visitor Centre. (Gerry Thiessen photo)
Mayor, historical society examine ways to mark Vanderhoof’s original cemetery

“It is a part of our history and we don’t want that history to evaporate,” Thiessen said.

Northern Health saw 14 cases in one day earlier this week, the highest in one day since the beginning of the pandemic. (Image courtesy CDC)
Northern Health sees highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

There have been 23 cases of reported cases of COVID-19 in the Nechako Lakes Health Area

’Herbert’ Shane Hartman with his daughter Isla. (Shane Hartman Facebook photo)
Love for daughter and drumming leads to author’s first book

Shane Hartman spent very spare moment writing and illustrating Isla’s New Drum

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

CBSA. (Black Press Media File)
4 sentenced in B.C. steroid smuggling, distribution ring that spilled into U.S.

Canadian Border Services Agency announced the results of a lengthy investigation it called ‘Project Trajectory’

Most Read