Archives for posts with tag: hyperlocal

Once again, has been the go-to resource for those in New Orleans wanting local information about the progress and aftermath of Hurricane Gustav.

Currently, the site reports floodwater has spilled over the Plaquemines Parish levee and officials have ordered everyone out.

Winds from Hurricane Gustav topple a tree in New Orleans. Photo by mystarla

Thomas Broadus of Mississippi Public Broadcasting has been tweeting rapid-fire updates, the Houston Chronicle has set up a special section for storm coverage, and KDFM-TV in Beaumont, Texas, has been keeping local residents up-to-date.

Thanks to lessons learned after Hurricane Katrina, no one messed around in preparing for and reporting news of Hurricane Gustav. Some have even said the round-the-clock coverage and days of high alert have been a little too much.

The reaction might have been different had the hurricane made a direct hit.

As it is, the Gulf region is still not in the clear. NOAA reports there will be storm surge flooding of 10 to 14 feet in southeastern Louisiana and Mississippi, and as much as 17 inches of accumulated rain in northwestern Louisiana in the next three days.

Instead of watching helplessly, people have been aggregating online information useful to those seeking shelter, looking for loved ones, and wanting to know if their homes have been damaged. The Hurricane Information Center Wiki (formerly known as GustavWiki), Hurricane Gustav on You C It and Hurricane Gustav Resources are three of the bigger efforts.

It will be interesting to see how many of those directly affected by the storm have made use of these sites. There have been numerous reports of local power outages and lack of cell phone service. Is there a real-time map of active and inactive cell towers? So far I’ve not been able to find one.

Photo by mystarla/Flickr

My former colleagues at the L.A. Times noted a milestone in community reporting today: The Homicide Report has been active for a year.

Reporter Jill Leovy, who has been primarily responsible for the blog, wrote a feature about her efforts to record the facts of every homicide in Los Angeles, a city of an estimated 3.8 million.

“None of the more ambitious stories I’d previously done for the paper seemed quite as effective as simply listing victims, one by one by one,” Leovy wrote.

The project has become a magnet for the community and is often cited as an exemplar of online journalism, one that is both uncomplicated (a blog and an interactive map) and powerful.

Online, The Homicide Report caught the attention of other sites, including

But perhaps more significantly, readers responded to the Times’ efforts in a visible way. By offering a dispassionate view of murder in the city through the map, and a place for the public to comment and mourn in the blog, LAT did a service for its community, one that was rewarded with frequent site visits and comments.

I’m told visits to the blog alone numbered in the hundreds of thousands, making a case for news organizations to put time and resources into similar local projects that meld traditional, skillful, locally focused reporting with imaginative online execution.

What are some of your favorites? Do you have a project you’d like to share? Feel free to post a link and your story in the comments.