Quake, tsunami reveal sweeping changes in mainstream and new media

Social media tools provide a wealth of information unavailable as recently as the 2004 tsunami.

“Tsunami expected in Los Angeles at 8:45 am WEST coast time,” Curry wrote. “Wake people on the coast to warn them.”

Seeing the tweet, Sree Sreenivasan—a digital media professor at Columbia University and a columnist and contributing editor at DNAinfo—phoned several cousins and a friend who live on the West Coast.

Social media has evolved into a powerful force in crises worldwide, enabling local newspapers to share readers’ photos, people around the world to view amateur video, and global media powerhouses like BBC and CNN to vastly expand their source and stringer networks.

In just a few years the landscape of disaster communications has been altered with use of digital resources like Facebook, Twitter, blogs and a vast army of mainstream media making use of crowd-sourcing techniques.

“Someone might say, ‘Well, [the phone call] didn’t have any impact,'” said Sreenivasan, who was assembling coverage of the earthquake on a Facebook site. “But if I were in New York and I was sleeping, I’d want to know there’s a tsunami coming my way.”

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.