Tuesday 30 September 2014

What role The Argus as Facebook flooded?

Published 08/01/2014 | 05:20

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Ken Finegan took this shot of locals in Blackrock watching the waves come in. Many people had their camera phones and iPads out, ready to post their snaps online immediately.

If ever there were an illustration of how modern technology and social media have changed the way we learn about events, even locally, then the floods in Blackrock are it.

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The last time the sea water came crashing over the promenade and flooded the Main Street in Blackrock was in February 2002.

Last Friday's flood event was very similar in many respects and the photos from 2002 are virtually a carbon copy of what happened then and again on Sunday and Monday afternoons.

However, while in 2002 everyone had cameras and mobile phones, social media didn't exist like it does nowadays.

I remember vividly the fantastic photos taken of the 2002 floods by Argus photographer Ken Finegan and the comments which followed their appearance in this newspaper some days later.

Fast forward to last Friday and I happened to meet Ken as he was just finishing taking photos of the sea crashing over the wall and flooding the promenade.

He and I weren't alone. A large number of the village population where witnessing the same power of nature and the majority of them had cameras, mobile phones and iPads with them to take photos and videos of the event.

Barely an hour or two later Facebook and Twitter were flooded, if you will excuse the pun, with photos of the flooding and the awesome power of nature.

So how should a newspaper approach an occurance like this that has captured public imagination?

While Ken Finegan again produced fantastic photographs, the power of his imagery is diluted somewhat by the multiude of camera lenses which also captured the event.

I don't believe that the story is any less powerful or less worthy just because our publishing date means we weren't first with the news. On the contrary, it is the power of the story which makes the event worth telling in the way we have, using our photographer and journalists to provide comprehensive coverage, while we have given over a couple of pages to the superb photos supplied by our readers.

Certainly newspapers are challenged by the internet and social media and a local paper published once a week cannot respond instantly, but it can use the digital tools now available to communicate with readers and the community to tell the story.

The Argus

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