Farewell Paul Lockyer 2

I learned with sadness that friend and colleague, Paul Lockyer, died on assignment overnight. He lost his life in a chopper crash which also killed  ABC helicopter pilot, Gary Ticehurst and cameraman, John Bean.

They were working on the latest in a series of wildlife documentaries about Lake Eyre and its environs. In recent years, they had been covering Australia’s bush, digging up the important stories often ignored by the city media.

I supported Paul Lockyer at an ABC/UTS forum held only last week, to discuss the coverage of disasters. More…

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Queensland police unleash a social media lynch mob 5

The Queensland Police social media strategy came seriously unstuck this weekend as  a wave of prejudicial comments resulting from its FaceBook site threatened the prosecution of an alleged child killer.

The site had earlier announced a breakthrough in the eight year investigation of the disappearance of Daniel Morcombe. The thirteen year old vanished while waiting for a bus along Nambour Connection Road in Woombye, under the Kiel Mountain Road overpass, on December 7, 2003, sparking the biggest missing-person investigation in Queensland Police history. Police announced  that a 41 year old man had been charged with one count each of murder, deprivation of liberty, child stealing, indecent treatment of a child under 16 and interfering with a corpse. More…

Disasters : journalist-free reporting? 2

Will mainstream journalists, who used to mediate between the public and government in disasters, be simply left out of the loop by social media?  In the twenty four hours during the peak of the flood crisis, Queensland police media had thirty nine million hits on their Facebook site. The public used their computers, laptops and smart phones to by-pass the conventional mass media and communicate directly with the authorities. In this year’s floods, Queensland local government and the state Police Service used Twitter and Facebook to disseminate flood warnings and information about local conditions. More…

Reporting Disasters : Social media and the floods 1

Social media were a mixed blessing  as authorities struggled to inform the public during the Queensland floods disaster.

That’s the interim finding of the the Queensland Floods Royal Commission, which today made a series of recommendations on how the public might be better informed during disasters. Queensland local government and the state Police Service used  Twitter and Facebook to disseminate flood warnings and information about local conditions during this year’s catastrophic floods. More…