Come Hell or High Water, Social Media Will Prevail

In October 2012, residents of the East Coast raced frantically from store to store, purchasing everything from toilet paper to bottled water to back-up generators. Gas became a precious commodity and natives of states such as New Jersey and New York waited in lines for hours to fill up their tanks and fuel cans. College students rushed home in a frenzy, leaving many universities strangely empty for the time of year. The cause of all of the commotion? The approaching force of Hurricane Sandy.

sandy

Hurricane Sandy developed from a tropical wave in the western Caribbean Sea on Oct. 22. It grew in strength and was quickly upgraded to a tropical storm, then a hurricane when it hit land near Kingston, Jamaica. Sandy became the largest Atlantic hurricane on record and is expected to be the second-costliest Atlantic hurricane, only behind Hurricane Katrina, which ripped apart New Orleans and caused significant destruction along the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas.

For my podcast, I will focus on the societal aftermath of the storm, as well as both the knowledge and panic brought on by the use of social media. I will be interviewing Samantha Toscano, Copy Desk Chief at The Review and a senior at the University of Delaware, who is doing her senior thesis on citizen journalism and the affect it has on society. She will speak on how social media was used as an outlet of knowledge for those on the East Coast looking for information about the storm, such as when it would be touching down and where one could find gas in certain areas. She will also discuss the negative effects citizen journalism had after Sandy. Some negative effects that will be discuessed are bloggers or Facebook users who spread flawed knowledge and those who abused the privileges of the internet by creating falsified images and videos of the hurricane devastation.

In addition to Toscano’s interview, I will also focus on those whose homes and lives were negatively impacted by the hurricane. Doug Kenny, a junior from Staten Island, New York, will describe the damage to his and his neighbors’ homes that occurred during Sandy’s rampage. Due to a falling tree, Kenny’s home experienced significant damage to the pool, gazebo and fence in his backyard. Kenny will also talk about how social media impacted his image of how the storm was affecting his home. Due to the expected damage of New York, Kenny was forced to remain at the university and had to solely rely on social media and information from his mother about the damage being done to the area. He will discuss how this impacted his views on how much damage was done to the area surrounding his home and New York in general.

Finally, I will interview Eric Robinson, a Connecticut native, about the damage done to his home. Although Connecticut was not a main focus of media coverage for the storm, Robinson’s home experienced significant flooding, forcing his parents to temporarily relocate and Robinson to stay at the university over the winter. He will discuss the damage done to his home, as well as how the images and messages posted by his friends and neighbors to social media sites affected how he viewed the damage done to his home before he was actually able to view the damage for himself.

Rachel Taylor

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