In case you didn’t know yet, the hillsides around the city of Santa Barbara are on fire, again. This fire is being called the Jesusita Fire.
As you may recall, last year during our annual fire(s), I posted an article highlighting a local news agency and their high quality coverage of the up-to-date information about the fire. They did a superb job!
This year is no different. The local ABC affiliate, KEYT, is poor. Their site is lame, and malnourished from solid content. The nearly dead Santa Barbara News Press has basically one story on their website. Oh, and of course you must register to get the detailed information (isn’t that SO 1999?) If you’re a local, and depend on those organizations for your news, you’re clearly uninformed.
However, the Santa Barbara Independent is once again rocking the casbah! Look, they’re treating this fire as if locals really want as much information as possible, and they want it right now! Locals want to see a map, with up-to-date information on evacuations and where the fire is now. I said, NOW!
Over the past few weeks, with the likes of Oprah, CNN, and Ashton, we’ve seen an increase in interest, from normal folks, in tools like Twitter. Yeah, there’s more, but Twitter has captured the hearts and minds of non-geeks wishing they were.
I’ve even shared a few conversations with the likes of my dad, and others, about the potential use of tools, like Twitter, within government agencies. FEMA has a Twitter account, so do many others. Yeah, the politicians do too, but they ain’t getting any click traffic from me. They just want your vote, not to really help you.
Back to FEMA. So, they’re using Twitter too. Cool, right? Heck yeah! Just this evening I see the FEMA feed had a link to the official County of Santa Barbara website for tracking info on the Jesusita Fire. Sweet! NOT! I hit the link, and it’s loaded with crap! CRAP I TELL YOU! At 8pm it’s saying no structures have been harmed. Crap! Of course just a few minutes before I stood and watched an LA news station show video of a home burning. HOMES ARE BURNING, WAKE UP COUNTY OF SB!
OK, I got that off my chest.
***disclosure*** I work for the county. ***disclosure***
Anyway, this quality blog post has digressed into a full-fledged rant. Sorry.
When will our government agencies wake up and realize that they have the opportunity to be the source of solid, verifiable information? Information that the public wants, and would be just fine getting from them.
One day, we’ll get automatic posts to our Facebook walls, we’ll read accurate info from our local sheriff on his/her Twitter feed, and the local Police Chief’s blog will teach me about the signs of drug abuse in my kids.
Someday, the government will catch up. Unfortunately, we’ll no longer be using Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. We’ll have moved on to something else…and the government won’t get it either.