Breaking news coverage is always a challenge.
In the past, we tried to collect as much information as possible before sharing it with the public. But now, our mandate when it comes to breaking news coverage has changed. What we do these days is put out what information we have as quickly as possible. The information that we put out is accurate, but it may not be immediately complete. Such is the job in the age of social media.
At least when you look to us, you know we haven’t just made something up, or simply speculated as if it was fact, like is common on other platforms I could name that I’m sure you’ve already had that experience with. The news business is still different in that way than just talking among friends or acquaintances.
But I digress.
So breaking news coverage is a challenge to be fast and accurate. It’s even more of a challenge when it happens on a weekend, when we’re not all in the office ready to dive right in.
Such was the case last weekend when I woke up to reports that there was massive flooding in the Cowichan Valley. I’d been up myself the night before blocking off a couple of low-lying doorways into my home, just below which water was pooling ominously as it approached midnight and the rain was still coming down. Fortunately, my precautions were overkill and not needed in the end. But others weren’t so lucky.
Right away, still in my pajamas, I threw something up on our website. As it turned out an early riser from one of our Victoria affiliates had already written up a quickie and put it up, but our website was glitching, so neither story was showing in our top spot (where it clearly belonged). Reporters Sarah Simpson and Kevin Rothbauer were also already on the case (kids get them up as the dawn breaks) so it was a matter of trying not to encroach on what each other had already done, while assessing what still needed attention. What did we do before texting, again?
Sarah became our go-to person throughout Saturday, putting up updates from the Cowichan Valley Regional District as they came in. I took over on Sunday. Meanwhile, Citizen publisher Warren Goulding was out and about on the other side of the floodwaters in Chemainus taking photos and video, which he then sent in for processing and adding to the stories.
More than any other kind of story, breaking news tends to come down to a team effort, and I’m always glad to have such an amazing team.
It’s great to have someone to share the load when the unexpected happens and have to spring into action.