Writers on the storm

This week in the North East we had the mother of all storms.

From my office window it was like being in the tropics when one of those weather fronts with a woman’s name rolls in.

The ensuing chaos was more than enough to keep me at work till past eight, but the real drama started to unfold as I tried to get home.

After a few false starts, a few daring rally manoeuvres, a tactical ditching of the car and a walk I finally arrived back at about 11pm. Thankfully, our house was fine but a few streets down it was a different story: http://www.newsguardian.co.uk/news/local/community-pulls-together-as-homes-flood-in-monkseaton-video-1-4695818

One thing the whole crazy night highlighted for me was the power the traditional media can still have on big local stories like this.

In a world where titles are closing at a rate of knots and all the talk is of self-publishing the regional media here had a fantastic night.

BBC Radio Newcastle turned over their schedule to providing travel information and telling the best stories from an incredible night. They were also live blogging, tweeting and crowdsourcing pictures via facebook.

Local titles like The Evening Chronicle, the journal and the News Guardian offered a great mix of stories, videos, pictures and live updates.

Sky Tyne & Wear, which is a regional pilot scheme for Sky News, also had reporters across the story and offered up a really high quality, interactive spread.

A number of key hashtags including #toonfloods, #Newcastlefloods and #Newcastleendofdays sprung up around Twitter and the traditional media were really utilising social media in a way I’ve not seen before.

This is why the local media is so important and as a former journalist I’m really pleased to see them embracing social media and utilising it in a way that transforms their coverage.

Mobiles are vital in this sort of situation and I was able to follow exactly what was happening on the iphone and on my car radio.

We need a thriving, innovative media sector that uses every tool available and I guess the next Eureka moment is working out how to monetise it.

The other key thing I take away from this is what a fantastic, community-based, look-on-the-bright-side place I live in. Well done the North East.

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