A second article we read in class this week, by Emily Yahr, discussed "crowd sourcing," the practice of asking readers/viewers to send in their own stories about what is happening. The author of the article linked above writes about the Des Moines Register's use of crowd sourcing to find out where people were when the Interstate 35 W bridge in Minnesota collapsed. On this blog, I've linked the Minneapolis Star-Tribune's interactive feature in which you can read the stories of the people in every car on the bridge that day. This information was gathered in part through the type of crowd sourcing discussed in Yahr's article. The main page contains a link asking visitors to the site to help the paper fill in the missing details. You can listen to the audio interviews with several of the survivors and read about the lives of the victims.
Even before I read Yahr's article, I thought of the Star-Tribune site. I think I've mentioned it before in reference to how technology can enhance reporting. Gathering information such as this while an event is happening can paint such a vivid picture afterward.
While I understand and share some of the concerns about people responding to inquiries not being honest about who they are, I think the Web and technologies such as cell phone videos can really enhance reporting and add real human elements to the story. Reporters often are present for the aftermath of a disaster, but being there right in the thick of things gives a much different picture of the story. Videos and posts sent right from the scene are so much more meaningful than interviews done after the fact, when the shock of things affects the memory of the subjects.