Unraveling Social Media One Tool at a Time
Let me begin with a full disclosure here. I am the daughter of a fire chief. When my Dad’s funeral was held in November 2010, I found myself leaning out of the window of the hearse, smartphone in hand, shooting photos of the police officers saluting my father’s coffin as it passed. I emailed photographs of the American flag hoisted over Main Street with the aid of a Fire Department Ladder Truck. I posted on Facebook the black banner draped over the front of the East Farmington Fire Department in my hometown of Farmington, Connecticut. My brother, also a firefighter, marched to the cemetery with the seemingly endless parade of firefighters, carrying my Dad’s white fire helmet. I shot a photo of that helmet and sent it to my aunt, who could not be there.
But I forgot all that for a brief moment when it came time to help coordinate the social media coverage for the Bay Area News Group of Thursday’s memorial for fallen CHP officer Kenyon Youngstrom, Should we really tweet a funeral proceeding, and then, gather all the photos and tweets into a Storify? Part of me was holding back. Would that be disrespectful?
In the end, the answer was, of course, yes we should do all this, and we did. Our Breaking News team worked out the details. In many ways this was a no-brainer. This was an event that the CHP and the family had opened up to the press, and it was a public employee, whose death shook the state of California, and fellow police officers from around the country. If we could bring the photos, quotes and color to perfect strangers who were angered and saddened by his death, then why not?
The result was a moving collection of tweets and photographs by Daniel M. Jimenez, Matthias Gafni, Erin Ivie, Karl Mondon, Susan Tripp Pollard, George Kelly and others. Editors Kat Rowlands and Patty Hannon and Kathleen Kirkwood, and our photo staff were instrumental in coordinating the coverage, which was covered as a pool coordinated with the CHP. The public nature of this, of course, played a big part in allowing us to Tweet the moving details of the day. With the permission of the family, a local television station was livestreaming it.