These recent natural disasters, especially Hurricane Irene, have shown how important local news is for citizens who need information essential to their survival. We can watch CNN and the Weather Channel all we want, but if they’re focusing on the Carolina coast and we’re up here in Delaware, does that really do us any good? We want to know how Irene is going to affect us right here in hometown, and it’s difficult to get that information anywhere except from a local news outlet.
When newscasters began to announce that Irene was a serious threat to all of the East Coast, the first thing my mom did was tell me to keep watching the local news. Great idea. Except that in our little corner of Delaware, we don’t really have any hyper-local news stations. The closest broadcast news station is out of Philadelphia, which is still about 45 minutes away from us and tends to cover New Jersey more so than Delaware. We have The News Journal, based out of Wilmington, but as the premier newspaper in the state, much of its coverage was devoted to coastal Delaware, which is under a mandatory evacuation. So, what now?
I turned to the Newark Post website, Newark’s only newspaper, which leaves much to be desired. The only story about Irene on their homepage was taken from the AP wire and focused on North Carolina. Not very helpful.
I turned to the University of Delaware homepage. Although their “Weather Alert” is featured on the homepage and contains a lot of information about closings and delays, it really doesn’t say anything about hurricane conditions in Newark itself.
Finally, after visiting Delaware.gov, I found information pertinent to New Castle County and how the hurricane will likely affect us. As of now, it looks like we still have a few more hours of power (I hope) and that as of Monday morning, Newark will be a very, very wet place!
As a lover of social media, I’ve also used Twitter and Facebook to get information about the storm. I faithfully follow #netDE, where a small but active community shares information related to Delaware. Also, I discovered #delIrene, which is proving to be a great source for news. And, of course, I’ve kept a close watch on Governor Markell’s tweets (@GovernorMarkell); as usual, his team is doing a great job keeping us up to date on the storm and evacuations.
In natural disasters and weather-related incidents, we show why local news is so important. Maybe they have to rely on the AP wire to fill their daily issues. Maybe they don’t have the most creative infographics. But, they have information that we need in situations like Hurricane Irene. They have information from a local perspective, telling us what we should do in our hometown, not what people living in North Carolina should do.
Do you feel like you’re getting adequate local news coverage about Hurricane Irene in your hometown? Did you know where to turn for a regional, rather than national, perspective? Comment below to weigh in!