Back in December, when our newsroom first heard reports of a big explosion in Sissonville, our newsroom mobilized.
A few reporters and photographers went to the scene of what turned out to be a pipeline explosion so strong it melted the interstate. Others stayed in the office trying to make sense of what was happening and passing on the information to a very concerned local population.
In the latter category was reporter Zack Harold, who used a curation website called Storify to provide information in real time. Zack pulled social media updates from officials and reporters into one easy-to-read post meant to help people learn quickly what was happening.
His Storify effort received more than 4,000 views.
And I’m proud to say Zack has been honored nationally for the effort.
This week Digital First Media, which manages the Daily Mail’s newsroom along with more than 70 others around the country, announced that Zack was a national winner in its very first DFMies awards. He won the category for use of social media.
DFMie judges explained why this was a winner:
Zack Harold’s Storify of the Sissonville explosion is a great example of how journalists can use social media to provide useful information during a breaking news event. Harold showed a great deal of insight into what people would want to know during the event — where to go for shelter, which roads were closed, reports of any injuries — and what they might want to know afterwards, like how asphalt actually melted during the gas line explosion. He also guided those who weren’t familiar with Storify as a tool, by reminding them how to use it along the way. By giving multiple accounts of the accident, gathering pictures from social media, and pulling from the official emergency response messages, he was able to give a well-rounded picture of what was going on in real time.
Zack came to the Daily Mail as a green but eager recent graduate of the University of Charleston. When he interviewed, I remember him mentioning an interest in digital stuff. He was the guy who ran his church’s website, and he had an interest in video too. I thought those attributes were interesting but I didn’t give them a lot of thought.
Now, as more and more people are getting their news through their computers, their tablets or their cell phones, I certainly have a greater appreciation of those interests.
I’m pleased that Zack has taken an interest in alternative ways to spread the news and proud that he’s being recognized for it.
Or read his work in the newspaper, where Zack is one of the Daily Mail’s state government reporters.