Posted by Ian
It’s been a strange few days.
Monday’s post-mortem sent us into a kind of tailspin. I’m not sure we quite knew what we were supposed to be doing on the homepage for a while, other than to make sure we were seen to be running the floods as the main item.
The story stayed as our lead until Tuesday lunchtime, in the process moving through around eight or nine different versions of essentially the same banner image: lots and lots of water. Since then I feel we’ve done a little bit better and have used the story as the starting point for articles other than simply ‘there have been some floods’. For example we’ve run a first-hand account of somebody caught up in the damage, a story on the financial winners and losers and a report on the Environment Agency’s take on the saga.
Even so, it’s sometimes felt as if we’ve been jumping on the media bandwagon rather than stepping back and trying to coolly assess just what has happened and why.
I sit opposite a television screen which shows BBC News 24 all day. For much of this week it has broadcast live footage of reporters in galoshes strolling around water-drenched towns, grabbing whoever they can find and asking them ‘how do you feel?’ Surprisingly, nobody has so far responded with a broad grin and a cheery ‘absolutely marvellous, thank you’.
I appreciate that rolling news channels have to find things to fill every minute of every hour; but reporting on a big story when there’s nothing to say is surely worse than reporting on smaller story with substance. Perhaps it’s hopelessly naive, or woefully misguided, to believe a website might try to do the same. Or maybe ‘a’ website, just not this particular one!
Laura has already discussed the differences in the coverage meted out to these floods and the ones last month in the north of England. I can’t see this sort of situation changing one jot until, for instance, all the country’s media organisations including MSN move to, say, Manchester. Or Newcastle. Or Hull, ‘the forgotten city’.
Meantime I’m looking forward to a weekend keeping myself snug and dry in a hairshirt. Then next week the whole team who works on the MSN site will be attending a day-long meeting, where we will learn what is expected of us by way of targets and standards over the next 12 months.
Hopefully there’ll be some time to reflect on mistakes made in the past and lessons to be learned for the future.