The Latest Christchurch Earthquake told on Social Media Platforms

A major earthquake has again struck Christchurch and this time to even more devastating effect. Again Twitter showed its value as the fastest news platform as information spread spontaneously through the Twitersphere along with images and video of the destruction.

The hashtag most used was #eqnz following on from the September earthquake that caused widespread devastation while #chch was also employed to aggregate quake tweets.

Twitpics were published in minutes. Dyedredlaura posted these images of damage and within an hour they had received thousands of views.

[Picture by @dyedredlaura]

[Picture by @dyedredlaura]

[Picture by @dyedredlaura]

This one of dramatic damage to Christchurch cathedral received over 14,000 views in under an hour and subsequent information suggested that people remained trapped inside.

[Picture by @tesswoolcock]

This early video also of a rockfall flattening a building and parked cars was also posted by ypud within minutes of the initial shock.

[The user has disabled the embed feature on the video, but you can watch the video over at Youtube]

Photos and videos were quickly picked up by the news media and republished on their websites.

Tweets also began to be circulated among the Twitter community requesting information about the safety of particular individuals, families and schools. Warnings from Civil Defence and telco companies also circulated advising worried relatives and friends to send text messages or make short calls to prevent the phone system from becoming overloaded.

By and large, the news media were quicker off the mark for this earthquake because unlike the September quake that struck before 5am on a Saturday morning, this week’s big quake occurred during lunchtime during a weekday.

News organizations were able to mobilize their reporting resources quickly using their local reporters. This was essential as Christchurch Airport had been closed by the quake and flights diverted away.

TV3, stung by criticism over its decision not to roll live coverage of the earlier quake on the same day while TVNZ did, this time did so. Both TVNZ and TV3 began live streaming from the earthquake zone on their websites. Both were effective but a bit slow to work because of understandably high user demand.

Live updates were also available on most of the main New Zealand news websites within the hour. The New Zealand Herald began theirs at 1pm which is good work considering the quake struck at 12.51pm.

Stuff website’s first entry was at 1.33pm. But a mitigating factor could have been technical issues affecting the quake-hit news room of The Press which is right next to The Square. This SOS did go out on Twitter: “All hands on deck in newsroom but we’re battling with huge tech issues. @PressNewsroom damaged, trying to update #eqnz”

Scrolling down to the beginning, TVNZ appears to have logged in its live updates that the quake struck at 12.51. It has also been running a live Twitter feed using #eqnz on its news frontpage.

Disappointingly, Radio New Zealand’s website does not appear to have the capability for publishing images or video, instead focusing on old school broadcasting, although it does utilise a live audio stream.

[main image credit: CTV.CA]

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News, Opinion | 22. Feb, 2011 | 132 Comments
Charles Mabbett

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