LA Times' strategy: Be a media platform, not just a newspaper
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All day long on Sunday, the Miami Herald homepage was dominated by a single all-caps word: “SEARCHING.”
The searching continued around the clock at the site of the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida. But Sunday’s news coverage reflected the fact that there’s very little actual news to report. The cause of Thursday’s collapse is still unknown. The confirmed death toll is still relatively low and the catalog of missing persons is still gut-wrenchingly high. So “SEARCHING” is the current status, as families search for some reason, any reason, to hold onto hope.
“First we offer our condolences to the families and victims impacted by this unimaginable tragedy,” Miami Herald exec editor Monica Richardson said when I checked in with her on Sunday. She said the English-language Herald and Spanish-language el Nuevo staffs are working to cover the disaster through “words, images, video, interactives and with data.”
“This is our South Florida community and we have a responsibility to keep the community informed,” Richardson said. “It is our responsibility and our mission. This is a newsroom that went through coverage of Pulse and Parkland so they understand the pain. It’s hard work and exhausting work but we are here for the long haul. This is a historical moment for the country and we are digging to find answers and provide coverage like only a local news organization can.”
— The latest #’s from Sunday evening’s news conference: “A total of 134 people have been accounted for while 152 remain unaccounted for…” (CNN)
— Some family members were able to visit the debris site on Sunday. Relatives of missing resident Nicole Langsfeld “took turns screaming out her name, hoping she’d hear them beneath the rubble,” CNN’s Faith Kamiri reports… (Twitter)
— “Some engineers are now focusing near the bottom of the 13-story condo tower, where an initial failure could have triggered a structural avalanche…” (NYT)
— Senator Marco Rubio: “Please pray for miracles here in Surfside…” (Twitter)
— Some family members are “angry and frustrated,” Miami-Dade County mayor Daniella Levine Cava told Wolf Blitzer Sunday evening. Some still have hope while “others are recognizing the chances are closing…”
Heroism gives hope in dark moments
“Every Sunday, when I walk to this studio, I pass a firehouse,” John Dickerson said at the end of “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “It is quiet that early in the morning; the firemen and women pass the time in easy conversation or preparing their equipment. It is nearly as peaceful as it was in the middle of the night Thursday at Champlain Towers South, just before the building collapsed.”
“That nightmare — coming at the hour where we risk feeling safest, asleep in our beds — summoned police, EMTs and firemen, like the ones I pass on the way to work each Sunday,” he said. “In an instant, that community of protection rushed to endanger their lives in the hope of saving the lives of others. Their heroism, in falling rubble and live electrical wires, gives hope in dark moments to the families, and to the rest of us, staggered by what we see. It is all too big, all the anguish and the loss, and the reminder, even after a year and a half of a pandemic, of how thin the membrane is that separates any of us from tragedy.
“It makes me think about those morning walks by the firehouse,” Dickerson said, “not because those moments are peaceful, but because even when the sirens are not blaring, those men and women are still dedicated every day to life’s preciousness, to rescuing people they don’t know simply because they are human. The rest of us may never face an acute moment of danger where we can be a hero, but we are all surrounded by humans every day to whom we can be generous, compassionate, and true. In these tragic moments, we feel our common human connection. We can honor those feelings by being like the first responders who recognize that human connection even after the tragedy passes.”
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