Blogging because lives depend on it

In the past few weeks, I’ve been reading and learing about how blogs have become essential in breaking news stories and in political candidates’ campaigns, but I never really considered the real effect blogs could have until I read “NOLA.com blogs and forums help save lives after Katrina” on ojr.org.

Basically, the title of the article says it all. It’s an interview between Mark Glaser and Jon Donley–editor of the New Orleans Times-Picayune online counterpart, NOLA.com editor. In the interview they discuss how during the aftermath of Katrina, it was impossible to publish, print or distribute the newspaper because the resources weren’t availaable. Instead, they turned to the website and that “became the source for news on hurricane damage and recovery efforts — including updates from various reporters on the ground and even full columns and news stories.” Along with news stories, calls for help were also sent in via friends and families of those in need of rescuing who received the messages in the form of text messages on the cell phones. The blog is still a part of the website and although it was up for awhile before Katrina hit (to cover breaking news), there probably hasn’t been any other online forum that has saved lives like this one has. It really makes you stop and think about the power of technology.

I thought that this was not only a very creative way of distributing news, but it was also a brilliant example of how beneficial thinking outside of the box can be. Before, when I thought about blogs, I used to think of people journalizing about their lives and ranting or raving about celebrity gossip. I never really considered how far reaching this technology could be and how–if used effectively–it really can change lives.


1. In what other ways thatn this can blogging be as effective in touching so many lives?

2. How different do you think the aftermath of Katrina would be without the presence of NOLA.com?


11 comments on “Blogging because lives depend on it

  1. […] Sept. 13). NOLA.com blogs and forums help save lives after Katrina. Online Journalism Review. Blogging because lives depend on it (Samantha) Respondents: Kendra, NicoleB, Sara, Jessica, […]

  2. I couldn’t agree more Sammi. When you discussed this article in class last week- I thought it was shocking that something like a blog could be so beneficial and actually save lives.

    Just recently, California was traumatized by wild fires. I have lots of family that live there – I can’t help but compare the Hurricane Katrina events with the wild fires – I think blogs would have been so helpful for people there too.

    There’s no denying that online networks and blogs are drastically changing our lives. Now it’s clear that blogs will continue impacting our future and in the unfortunate case of an emergency, it’s a little comforting to know we’ll have another form of mass communication and way to spread news efficiently.

    Thanks for the article summary, it was very thought-provoking!

  3. If it weren’t for NOLA.com, I think that the aftermath of Katrina would differ tremendously in the lives of the victims. The website you described was a place to connect with those with common ground, and a valuable resource to the victims. Without this website, the people affected might feel completely alone and as if they lost their home community. This is a great way to feel like you still belong. How might the publicity this website gained change the outcome of the level of aid received in New Orleans?

  4. With accordance to NOLA.com, the people of New Orleans were able to save the lives of their fellow neighbors as well as family. With this emerging new technology and the quick wit of the fellow people of New Orleans surviving the storm became tangible for many people. Who would ever think that technology could really play a part in saving people’s lives, but NOLA.com is the perfect example of the potential good of the web and blogging sites. To answer your question very simply, without the presence of NOLA.com in Hurricane Katrina the destruction toll could have been severely elevated. I just wonder in the rare case of something like this happening again, if people will come together and save lives in the same way that NOLA.com was able to.

  5. Thanks for bringing this article to our attention. Prior to reading your summary, I was unaware of the large impact blogs had on the news coverage of Katrina. Your summary sparked my interest in this topic and after doing some research, I found a similar idea at Ignite Realtime that I also thought was noteworthy.

    “In 2005, a group of interested parties in Iowa started looking for a scalable, secure, and open source standards system that could provide the level of flexibility necessary to support the real tie collaboration of broadcast media, the National Weather Service and emergency management. The effort was called IEMChat.”

    Now, IEMChat’s use has spread to over half the country and has been utilized in recent high impact weather events such as the Super Tuesday tornado outbreak that impacted the states of Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and other states.

  6. Hi, Sami! You provided a clear summary of an important development. And remember, that was Aug-Sept 2005 — 2.5 years ago! The Times-Picayune was lucky to have tech folks and journalists with the skills necessary to keep the “paper” in business. They set a model for others to follow.

  7. This is comment based off of what Jessica said. I definitely think that Nola.com set the precedent for how to deal with natural disasters and still be able to communicate with the population– with future disasters, other cities and journalists will be much better prepared. Nola.com has set an excellent model for the rest of the world to follow.

  8. I agree with what all you said about how great of a technological development sites like NOLA.com are. Natural disasters are something that most regions of the world experiences at some point, and being able to know that the one’s we love are safe is the best gift anyone could ask for. In times of an earthquake, flood, fire, tornado, or hurricane – it’s comforting to know that because of forms of technology, you have the option to never lose your community. Good job technology 🙂

  9. Concerning what Noltes2 said, I am not sure how blogs would impact the level of aid, but I do think that blogging is providing a new medium for emotions to be conveyed. People that experience traumas need to feel comfortable to convey their emotions and blogs allow people to do so in a manner that they feel comfortable. For instance, a man could completely break down and talk about his feelings of despair without actually identifying himself, which I think would be very beneficial for individuals who are very guarded about their emotions.

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