It’s certainly not the first time cell phones have played a significant role in a breaking news story. From the Virginia Tech shootings to protests in Iran to the plane crash in the Hudson, eyewitnesses have been sharing important information about newsworthy events for several years now.
But, according to NetNewsCheck, the sheer volume of content shared in the midst of the Nashville flooding may be unprecedented.
TV station websites in Nashville and Memphis received over 40,000 pictures and videos in less than 48 hours as flooding wracked the region and as firefighters and EMS crews rushed to rescue people from their homes and rooftops.
Several million page views were logged as well for the user-submitted content, according to the Cell Journalist platform that powers user contributions for WTVF and WSMV in Nashville and WMC in Memphis.
Contributors sent in video of flooded out streets, submerged cars, floating dumpsters and citizen rescues in progress.
Most clips ran no more than 15 seconds long, but the provided hundreds, even thousands of tiny windows into what life was like for local residents. Fortunately, Cell Journalist did the hard work, pulling together some of the best stuff on their site.
For me, this is a perfect combination of citizen journalism and mainstream media — we all win. The citizens get their stories told, the mainstream media gets broader coverage and the audience learns more.