By Andrew Humphrey, CBM
Founder and Co-Chair, NABJ’s Digital Journalism Task Force
Digital technology and the internet has been hailed as a door opener for independent storytellers – young and old, rich and poor, novice and professional – to tell their tales to a worldwide audience. Theses same online tools empower employed journalists just as much. Correspondents at local stations can speak to a global audience about local news or use information from anywhere on the planet and explain its local relevance or both.
From WDIV-TV in Detroit, I recently used social media to tap into my global network for information, incorporated it into my “local” weathercast, and used livestreaming to communicate my weather story back to my local and global viewers.
Last Labor Day Weekend, the weather in the Motown Area was gorgeous! It was sunny and in the upper 70s or near 80 each day. On the morning of September 5th, I sent out this Facebook message:
Andrew Humphrey Where are you? What’s your weather? I can mention it on Local 4 News Morning on TV and http://bit.ly/13uvAb between now and 8am ET (Now – 12pm GMT).
September 5 at 6:57am
I expected my usual responses from my fellow Detroiters, but the first reply was from someone outside of the city, state, nation and continent. It was from South America and it was this:
Dan Kubiske Brasilia. Cloudy with thunderstorms on the horizan. It’s about 28C right now (8am Atlantic time) going to 31C. But then again we are leaving winter and heading for summer.
September 5 at 7:01am
My primary audience is in Detroit and Southeast Michigan, and they understand the English measuring system. Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, is over four thousand miles away from Detroit. 28 degrees Celsius is equivalent to 82 degrees Fahrenheit, and 31 degree Celsius is about 88 degrees Fahrenheit. What does this have to do with the Motor City’s weather forecast? How would I use this in my presentation and keep it relevant to my local viewers?
I decided to use the comparison between a northern American city with a tropical location as a holiday destination and Detroit’s exquisite weather to my advantage. It may have already been warmer in Brasilia, but it was raining and worse, more dangerous weather was imminent there. So I went on the air and essentially said, “I heard from my Facebook friend in Brasilia and it will be in the 80s there. However, it’s cloudy and he’s expecting thunderstorms. Most people think of leaving Detroit for the tropics for a holiday weekend, but this weekend the best place to be is in Detroit because it will be warm with sunshine all weekend.” Contrasting Brasilia’s weather to Detroit’s takes international information and makes it local.
In addition, my secondary audience is global because of my station’s website, ClickOnDetroit.com. We livestream our news program on it. The abbreviated link (http://bit.ly/13uvAb) in my original message as the address to that online transmission. Therefore, my social media contributors (e.g., Facebook friends) can watch and listen for their name, city and weather observations (i.e., news information). This simultaneously accomplishes the goal of achieving growing my station’s online audience and potentially making any news or information relevant to them.
This experience proved to me how connected each person is to everyone on Earth and how local stories are related to global ones and vice versa and thus can be shared with the world at the same time.