February 18, 2014

Mark Millican: Social media, Olympic coverage

Mark Millican

— The outreach of social media continues to amaze, and is especially useful for us in the news business to get information out during a winter storm or flooding situation. I know a lot of folks aren’t “hip” to Facebook, Twitter or even the Internet, but by consulting with the sheriff’s office, EMA/Fire and school system Facebook pages, we can relay information to our own Times-Courier Facebook page and even update our website at timescourier.com.

The same process follows in a similar fashion at most newspapers, including The Daily Citizen.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week we were able to share information about snow, sleet, high winds, possible power outages, which roads were especially treacherous, where shelter was available for those who needed it and when schools were closed — all by “copying and pasting” and with just a few clicks of a mouse, and reporting our source.

A scant few years ago this would not have been possible. I confess my own misgivings about some facets of the Internet, but when used rightly, it and other social media can actually save lives. And besides, there’s no better way to stay in touch with my grandsons than getting pictures of them having fun in the snow, even though they’re miles and miles away.


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Speaking of the media, it’s interesting to watch how NBC builds up the Olympics. For instance, on Tuesday of last week I heard on the radio of world-class snowboarder Shaun White’s failure to win a single medal in two events at the Olympics. Going into Sochi he was the reigning two-time Olympic gold medallist in the “traditional” — if you can call it that — snowboard event called “halfpipe.”

But in NBC’s coverage Tuesday night, they saved the halfpipe event for late in their broadcast — without ever mentioning that White had already placed only fourth earlier in the day. I understand that’s the modus operandi of Olympic coverage, to make Americans think they’re right there when it’s going on.

Shed no tears for Shaun White, however, who would have won gold if qualifying scores for getting in the final bracket counted. He had a bad day in what commentators were calling terrible conditions due to the snow and placed fourth. Still, White reportedly has a net worth of several million dollars.

What does that mean? He’s not hurting, for one thing, win or lose. White started as a skateboarder, so if you see a teenager with long hair, tattoos and metal sticking out of his head — and a skateboard tucked under his arm — don’t laugh at or disrespect him. You may be working for the kid one day.