The editor of Carlisle’s daily paper has said his newsroom faced “information overload” from social media in the wake of the December 2015 floods which hit the city.
He said one of the key challenges for his team was sifting the accurate from the inaccurate information arising from the thousands of social media posts on the disaster.
He also described how the paper itself used social media to create the ‘spirit of Cumbria’ hashtag which eventually came to symbolise the area’s response to the flooding.
David revealed that the disaster unfolded as staff were preparing for a party to mark the 200th anniversary of the News & Star’s weekly sister title, the Cumberland News.
“Sadly there was to be no party as a relentless downpour settled over Cumbria bringing the worst floods in living memory. So instead we went to work,” he told the conference.
David said that two things marked out the 2015 floods from the previous ones in 2005 – the scale of the disaster, and the impact of social media.
“We had hundreds if not thousands of people keeping us abreast of developments. The take up of social media meant there was information overload,” he said.
“One of our key tasks was not to get overwhelmed with the sheer amount of information that came our way,” he added.
“We had to be a conduit for accurate information to those who needed it.”
As well as starting the hashtag #spiritofcumbria, which eventually grew into a website of the same name, the paper also offered 49k of free advertising to businesses affected by the disaster.
He added: “The worst situations bring out the best in newsrooms. But for the sake of the people of Cumbria I hope it’s some time before we get another chance to show what we can do.”