Angry Robot

Sandy's Aftermath

There are some absolutely sensational images coming out of New York City.

There’s very little I can say that would do justice to the magnitude of this event and of the suffering caused by it, so let me move on to talk about the coverage. Things like this tend to make me a little news-obsessed, and they come up rarely enough, thankfully, that each time the way I approach it technologically tends to shift slightly.

First I went to the NYTimes iPad app, which was very good at providing the back story, as it were, and illustrating it with images. But it was not up to date. Then I went to Twitter, where the hashtag “#sandy” seemed to be the one to check. There were again amazing things – on-the-ground impressions, photos – but they were often obscured by tasteless jokes, retweets of tasteless jokes, attempts to tie the disaster to one political platform or another, and retweets of forged images of sharks in New Jersey. I briefly checked TV but we cancelled cable, and the few american channels we get now were either not covering the event live, or their signals were being interfered with by the hurricane. I briefly tussled with the CNN iPad app before realizing it was not gonna cough up a live feed and deleting it. “#SandyTO” on twitter, for the local Toronto touch, was a little better signal-to-noise wise, but not much.

There’s no magic bullet for coverage of things like this (are there any things like this?), but I wound up liking The Star’s live blog. Perhaps any good liveblog would do. It’s good to have editors to sort out the junk from the live-tweet firehose, but also to have more frequent updates than the NYTimes was capable of – although in their defense, their power was probably out! (And sharks were attacking them maybe?)

Hopefully the worst is now over but wow – what a terrible spectacle. Images of NYC flooding and/or going dark belong in Roland Emmerich and/or Batman movies, not in real life.