Fire and Guns: The Local Blogs Win Me Over

Posted on August 13, 2010 Under Social Media

My first full-time job was on the online Metro desk at the Washington Post, so I’ll always have a soft spot for it. Let us mark today, though, as the day my allegiance for local news shifted to the local blogs.

This afternoon, a fire broke out under my office building. (Here’s my obligatory cell-phone photo of billowing smoke.)

Within minutes, the local blogs had pictures and quick reports up. I thought about sending my picture, snapped at 1:28 p.m., to DCist, but I wasn’t the first one:

  • Prince of Petworth: Earliest time stamp (1:47 p.m.), has a (sideways!) video that shows what it sounded like. Speculation is that booms were transformers blowing.
  • DCist: Just a few minutes later, same picture. The first comment correctly identifies the exact location and problem.
  • WeLoveDC: An hour later, but with more details to add context for people who don’t know the area as well.

As an aside — while I was checking DCist, I found an important story that the Post failed to bring to my attention — a shooting late last night not too far from my apartment. (Don’t worry, Mom, it’s not really that close.)

Back to the fire. I kept checking the Post‘s local page, hoping the account of the fire there would be better. None of the local blogs, for example, had detailed information from fire officials.

By late afternoon, I figured the Post just wasn’t going to cover it. I complained to a colleague, who found this bland report from the AP on the Post‘s site, linked to an earlier update that had been buried in the traffic section. (No offense to Dr. Gridlock, traffic is his gig. And I have a soft spot for him, too, because he was my last boss before I left the Post.)

None of the local blogs linked to the Post‘s report, which I’m assuming meant they missed it, too. It’s too bad, because the Post did have more information from fire officials and detailed road closure information, which not all the blogs included.

The ideal coverage would combine of all of this, of course — pictures and reports from the street, professional reporters checking the facts, and no way to miss key stories close to home. Maybe the best option will be TBD, a new blog-style publication from the publishers of Politico that covered the fire well and just came to my attention today (thanks, Lauren!).

You have to think that the Post will try to get there, especially since they’ve done a great job soliciting reader photos from this morning’s storms.

But today, my money’s on the bloggers to get there first.