Sensitivity, perseverance, and social media: Covering the deadly tornado in Joplin, MO
In the aftermath of a deadly tornado that killed at least 116 people, journalists have descended on Joplin, Missouri, to cover the destruction, prompting discussions of how to sensitively cover tragedies, and highlighting the potential for social media to help during crises.
CNN’s TJ Holmes told TVNewswer that in covering disasters, journalists should act as humans, not robots. "This is not a story where there is a left or a right or some stance on an issue. Everyone is on the side of the people of Joplin right now," Holmes said, as quoted by TVNewswer. "You help your fellow man, as a human being you want to stop and help them out.” He added that journalists should be careful not to make the people of Joplin victims twice over by moving on to the next story immediately and forgetting all about the tornado.
Poynter pointed out that with much of Joplin without phone service or electricity, the local newspaper, The Joplin Globe, created a Facebook page to help connect tornado survivors with their family and friends. At least four other similar Facebook pages also sprang up within hours of the tornado.
The Globe's tornado Facebook page says it was created to allow people to post "Information on the safety of you and your family," and "inquiries about the safety of others you have not been able to contact." On Wednesday morning, May 25, more than two dozen messages had been posted in an hour. Some still are seeking loved ones, others are updates that a missing person had been located.
In the video below, Joplin Globe reporter Jeff Lehr speaks with NBC's Brian Williams about working through the tragedy to put out the newspaper and keep the website up to date. Also, the Missouri Press Association has established a fund to help Joplin Globe journalists impacted by the tornado, according to Editor & Publisher.
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