The 32nd annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference was held May 13 through the 18 at the Palm Beach Convention Center, offering various workshops and training sessions for disaster recovery tactics.
Among the workshops was a session focusing on social media’s vital role in Network TV’s coverage of last year’s major hurricanes.
Mike Jachles, a public information officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, organized “The National Media Response to Harvey, Irma, and Maria – And How Social Media Became the Information Lifeline From the Network TV Correspondent’s Perspective” workshop.
Jachles, who has a background in news broadcasting for NBC, stressed the importance of news outlets’ role in filtering information during disasters to prevent releasing misleading information.
“They have to make sure and then darn sure,” Jachles said.
Joining him were Rosa Flores, a CNN correspondent, and ABC assignment editor Ben Stein via Skype.
Flores explained communication is key as a reporter. She elaborated on her extensive preparations to provide the most valuable information to the public, such as calling agency officials before departing to the location and finding the best visuals for the reports.
She recognized the usefulness of social media in these situations. Despite the ease of gathering content through social media, Flores is careful and fact checks everything that is sent to her.
“This is life or death type of information,” Flores said. “[I have to] get a better and clearer picture of what the tweet means or what the Facebook post means.”
Stein explained news outlets look for the best visuals for broadcasts, and social media helps provide live stories and media of disasters.
He added that it makes it safer for crews trying to cover disasters when those being affected send in the footage.
While the workshop focused on the usefulness of social media, the public information officers in attendance were concerned with how to get useful information to the media outlets. Jachles said it is about knowing how to market the information with the help of a strong media presence.
Jachles urged the attendees to not be afraid to send information to the correspondents and editors through social media.
“They’re just looking to tell the story,” Jachles said.