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Earthquake eyewitnesses

Steve Herrmann Steve Herrmann | 11:13 UK time, Tuesday, 30 May 2006

It’s been a busy weekend for the online news desk as they responded to the news early on Saturday of a major earthquake striking Java in Indonesia.

A graphic of the BBC News websiteIn the first stages of a story like this there’s a tried and tested list of things to do: send out a breaking news alert and publish a few paragraphs which can be built up as more quotes and details come in from the BBC’s correspondents. We’ll look for the best pictures, commission maps from our graphics team and stream the BBC’s rolling TV news coverage on the website.

But there’s another staple element in covering any breaking story on the site, which is to ask our readers for their eyewitness accounts. On Saturday we put an email feedback form on the main story straight away and within an hour or so of checking responses, ringing them back and interviewing people, we had a series of first-hand accounts on the site from readers in the area. The contacts we make via these emails are shared with radio and TV news who follow up with their own interviews.

It’s become almost routine for us to expect such reports but sometimes it’s these accounts, above all, which bring home the reality of the situation for those caught up in it.

“We'll be too afraid to sleep tonight,” wrote one man who contacted us from Yogyakarta, “It's going to be a real mess. We're just happy to be alive.”


  • 1.
  • At 02:19 PM on 30 May 2006,
  • RichardA wrote:

How are you planning to deal with the increasing number of mails, photos and videos that you are going to get in over the coming years? Surely the logistics of verification will prove enormous?

Might you, for example, use web 2.0 models of reccomendation and reputation or even begin to develop a 'digital stringer' network comprised of 'trusted eyewitnesses' for more regular stories?

  • 2.
  • At 09:20 AM on 20 Jul 2007,
  • Reynolds wrote:

I missed the news this am but switched on when 4 singers male were singing Moon River. It was magnificent such talent is rare. Will there be more where I can I see and hear them thank you for your attention.

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