7 Ways to Round Out Your Hurricane Sandy Coverage

Oct 29, 2012

If you're one of the many member stations covering Hurricane Sandy, or "Frankenstorm," here are some types of stories that will keep your digital storm coverage relevant and your local community informed.

Pour All Storm Updates into a Live Blog

There will be lots of updates, numbers, facts, quotes, photos, videos, maps, news conferences and other bits of information you'll need to report to your local community over the next several days. Treat your live blog as the home base for your station's storm coverage, providing all of the essential updates as they spill out. Don't be afraid to keep the format simple -- a single blog post with reverse-chronologically ordered time-stamped updates (latest update at the top) does the trick. Create a new post for each day of blogging. In the blog, provide text updates, links to your coverage, links to other news organizations, photos, embedded tweets, YouTube videos and anything else relevant to the storm. Make sure to highlight major developments such as deaths and massive power outages within the blog, but you should also think about creating a separate story for anything significant. Check out this textbook example of live-blogging by KUNC during the Colorado wildfires this past June. 

Provide Helpful Guides

Think about what people dealing with the storm need to know and create content out of those needs. It's important to keep people updated on the news of what's happening, but this type of content will actually help them through the storm and the aftermath. 

Some ideas:

  • Guide on dealing with flooding
  • Guide on dealing with power outages
  • List of local shelters
  • List of emergency phone numbers
  • List of things to gather if you need to evacuate

All of your suggestions don't need to be super-serious. Some non-urgent ideas: 

  • List of local cafes, bars and grocery stores that are open
  • Games to play to pass the time during outages
  • The best public places to charge cell phones and computers.
  • You might even consider a list of all the open Starbucks in the area.

FEMA can get you started on some of this here

Embed Maps

People will want to know the storm's path and its current position, so you'll want to create a story that includes both elements. WNYC's John Keefe created a map that track's Sandy's trajectory and he made it easy for you to embed it on your own site. Google created a "Crisis Map" that allows you to show a number of valuable data, including live radar of the storm. You will also want to watch the National Hurricane Center for storm updates, maps and images.

Create a Video Post

There's one thing I'm certain of when it comes to destructive weather -- the cameras will be rolling. People will be uploading videos throughout the storm. Keep a tab open on your browser for YouTube and keep an eye on videos coming in. By filtering your search you can view the latest videos uploaded. Here's a search for "sandy delaware," filtered by upload date. Gather the best videos and embed them into a single story, adding to the post as more videos get uploaded. Your headline can be something simple like, "Watch Videos of Hurricane Sandy Making Landfall in Delaware." 

Create a Photo Post

Storms are visual creatures. They topple trees, wreck buildings and cause floods. You might have staff who can safely shoot photos, but Flickr and Instagram are easy ways to find what people are seeing. You should also watch the National Weather Service and NASA for satellite images. Create a post to house all of your storm photos and continuously add new photos as you find them. Your headline can be something general like,"Photos: Hurricane Sandy in Massachusetts." Storify is a great tool for feeding photos onto a post (see this story from Gawker, which uses Storify). When you come across an especially compelling image, you might think about breaking it out into its own post or sharing it on your Facebook page with a link to a story.   

Organize a Single Topic Page

As your station is creating content, remember to organize tagging for all of your stories. Come up with a common tag -- something like "Hurricane Sandy" -- and make sure all stories get filed under that tag. This will allow you to funnel all of your storm coverage onto one topic page. You can then share that page out on Facebook, Twitter and story pages as a way to access all of your content. More on the value of topic pages here.

Round Up Social Media Chatter

One final idea to round out your storm coverage is to create a social post where you feed in information you find on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social sites. The best way to do this is to create a Storify and embed it into a post on your site (never used Storify? Here's a guide). You can title it something like, "Social Media Updates on Hurricane Sandy." Then, as you find more interesting bits, just keep updating your Storify.