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Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Well Done Everyone.

I posted a blog post, earlier today, on my Social Media Journeys blog. It was called "Citizen Journalists" and relayed my own experiences yesterday. The day that Hastings Pier burned.
In it i mentioned how i had used various social media sites to get my photos, video & audio podcasts onto the Internet and how they had been spread by others and then used by other sites.

But, i was by no means the only local person who did this and that is what i want to recognise in this blog post.
I want to say "Well done everyone", to all of those local people who helped to show the world what was happening in our town yesterday. Without us, the coverage would have been nowhere near as extensive, especially in those early hours of this major news story.

When i first got down to the seafront and the pier, at just before 6.30am yesterday. There were no media people to be seen anywhere. Not even from our local newspaper, the Hastings Observer.
One of their reporters did turn up a bit later, on his own and without a photographer. I think i even over heard him saying that he couldn't get hold of anyone on his phone!

This was a major news story, possibly the biggest the town of Hastings has had for many years and there were no local news reporters present to record it. Or, any other media outlets for that matter. Even though the pier had been burning for over 5 hours at that point.

So, what did the established local and national media have to do? They had to rely on you and me, the citizen reporters.

We were the people whose photos and videos appeared on numerous news websites and social media sites generally.
We were the people who were on the scene first and who captured the really defining images. Those powerful images of the pier burning in the darkness, or in the early morning light. Before the media cavalry arrived.

I have seen video and photo's from many local people used on various tv programmes, news websites and even national newspapers.
One local photographer, Andy Wilson, who i know via Twitter, had one of his photos used by The Guardian newspaper, as it's lead front page image
Well done Andy.

We were also ably assisted by all those other locals who passed on our images etc. Whether by Twitter, email or other means. You also helped to get this historic story "out there".

I only hope that the efforts of our local citizen reporters is appreciated when the Hastings Observer brings out it's special "Hastings Pier burns" edition this Friday.
I think it is only fitting that they are. After all, it was us who provided the world with those first dramatic images of that dreadful fire.

I could now go off into another rant and maybe i will, about how woeful the Hastings Observer were with their initial coverage of the story. About how they were comprehensively beaten to the story by the Brighton Argus, amongst others.

I was contacted, via Twitter, by the Brighton Argus asking for permission to use my material, at 09.00. My YouTube video was linked on their website by 09.20 that morning. They also had one of my photos on their site, by the same time.

By contrast, the first Tweet of the day from the Hastings Observer was at 10.30am.

It wasn't until around this time that any mention of this huge local story first appeared on the Hastings Observer website. I could go on, but.....

So, well done everyone.
You did your town proud yesterday.
You recorded a little piece of history. And it's just as well that you did. Because there was nobody else there to do it for us.
And for that, the whole town and the media world in general, should be eternally grateful.

PS: For a local poets version of events. Watch this. It's well worth it.


  1. A shame and an embarrassment that the Hastings paper wasn't on the ball earlier, but something I would like to say is that I think you're lucky to have not had the national press on the scene. By their having to rely on locals, such as yourself and the other Andy, for images and reporting, the story was framed in the proper context. I find that national coverage of local stories often misses important nuances and points-of-view that only a local reporter will capture. Good for you!

  2. Very good point Ken. Nobody can tell a story like this better than the locals that it affects the most.

  3. Thanks for the mention Andy

    I'm very disappointed that the Observer never once contacted me about my photos. They follow me on twitter, where the snaps were available from about 7am. As a contrast the Argus contacted me early, kept me updated, and the web editor fought against the odds to make sure I got a credit both on the covers and on the billboards. The Guardian cover came about as a result of a press agency commenting on one of my flickr posts. Where were the Observer?

    I hope it's not because of the disagreement I had with them when they used my photo of my friend Dave Blackman uncredited and without permission after his tragic death - then tried to make me feel mercenary for demanding they pay for the use - direct to charity.

    Anyway - this isn't the place for a rant - so thanks again for the mention and I agree with every word.

  4. Andy: It sounds like your experience was very similar to mine. The Brighton Argus & Heart FM were very quick off the mark with me & Jo at the Argus was very good to deal with.
    The Observer only contacted me after i'd sent them links to my various posts. Then they even sent somebody round to my house to pick up my original video file. I think they were getting desperate by this time, were being left far behind & were getting criticised for it too.
    They then had the nerve to say on their website that they were first with this news!
    I'll be very interested to see the Hast Obs tomorrow.