Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Wed, Sep 16 2009

Fire/news mix it up for (hopefully) best outcome in the end

After reading much material on the topic this monring, I must say that this story from KESQ teaches me that sometimes stories sprout where there might really have been no need. (I'm not shaking a finger at just KESQ. We all need to be careful.) At the time these things were taking place, Cal Fire did not seem to have an obvious link to its Twitter account from its main web site. The blog called Cal Fire News has a Twitter account, but is not part of CalFire. (Are you still with me?) Cal Fire News has been using its Twitter account to tweet pertinent fire information for some time, including timely updates on the recent fires that were taking place as I watched helicopters come and go over my house on their way to be refueled at the Watsonville Community Airport. CalFireNews also tweets personal comments on things not having to do with fires and emergencies, the way many other Twitter accounts do.

I'm sure the folks at KESQ meant no harm, but they seem to have misunderstood some things about the way Twitter works. There are still very few Verified Accounts and neither KESQ nor CalFire has a Verified Account. (Neither does CalFireNews.) To asssume that someone is official because of the person's Twitter name and the nature of his or her tweets only gets one tossed into a world of confusion. And for KESQ to speak of CalFireNews as though it was not a legitimate account also confuses me. It is legitimate, in its own right. Robert O'Connor runs the account. Not being an official page for our state's CalFire does not make the page less legitimate as a source of up-to-the-minute information on its own.

It takes real time and energy to understand social media. I've really learned a lot by watching this interaction take place. We all need to slow down and ask plenty of questions before we accuse other people of wrongdoing in our haste to write news and be first. The important thing is that both CalFire and CalFireNews have been working hard in their own corners to get information out to the public. We can all appreciate each of them for their respective service. I don't know very much about KESQ, but I'm going to guess that the station also wants to do right by the public when it comes to information. We need to uplift and encourage each of these agencies so that lives and property can be saved. Then everybody wins.

To help you all out in case you seek more info and so that I don't add further to any confusion:

KESQ Twitter page KESQ
CalFire Twitter page Cal_Fire
CalFireNews Twitter page CalFireNews

posted at: 12:28 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
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