There was a fire tonight near Cedar Bluff and Middlebrook. My wife and I first noticed it on our way home from dinner. There was a large plume of smoke, but I didn't think it was dark enough to be a real fire. Curious, we detoured towards it and went to a video store to get a movie for Ben. When we got out, it definitely seemed darker.
From there, we headed south to another shop for an errand. Now we've driven all of the way around it without getting any closer than say a quarter mile. There were helicopters and distant sirens. Someone in the store said it was a small aircraft crash. Everyone was interested in what was going on, but they were all in the dark. Television and radio were their first choices for figuring out the situation, but there wasn't any media coverage yet.
I didn't want to get in the way of anything, so we headed home. There was nothing on live television, there was nothing on knoxnews.com, or wbir.com or wate.com. Eventually, all of the sites had something up -- about an hour or so later with no real detail. Many hours after that, the television sites finally put some meat to their stories including a photo slideshow. But no video. They did get many comments, while the newspaper site had none, despite having had more information and updates early in the game when the news was breaking.
I only mention all of this because it makes me realize a few important things.
First, no one seems to have gone to the newspaper to get the breaking news, even though that would have netted them more information. And second, I wish I had taken pictures or video and sent it to the paper to use. I don't have a camera or camcorder but I do have a camera phone.
I can post images to this blog directly from my phone in basically no time, but I don't know how to submit such images to the paper for their use and no reason to expect that they would use them if I did. Camera-phone-quality though they may be, they would have been sufficient for the web. All of this leads me to think that newspapers need to solicit photos from their user base for all event and breaking news stories and with the lightest possible editorial work flow, then include those submissions alongside the article and comments as first class content.