In this age of digital photos, video-capable cellphones and the Internet, everyone, potentially, is a news reporter.
That was demonstrated again this week when a storage shed caught fire at 7th Street and Wall Avenue.
The fire was highly visible, throwing clouds of thick black smoke into the air until firefighters brought the blaze under control.
Our coverage included video and a photo slideshow.
But the video was shot by a bystander and posted on YouTube where we linked to it from our website.
We also had a number of submitted photos. Several were included in the slideshow, including the one running with this column, which was taken by the wife of one of our IT staffers.
Even in pre-digital times, some of the best photos of breaking news came from non-professionals who happened to be there when the event occurred. Neighbors and passersby are often there earlier than news photographers and had the advantage of immediacy.
The difference today is media organizations are much more open to accepting that type of citizen journalism than they were in the past.
The good news in this, from our standpoint, is that it greatly expands our ability to cover news events, both in print and on-line, particularly the visual element of stories.
The more eyes and ears on the ground the wider news-gathering net we can cast.
Of course, it also means greater competition for mainstream media.
A study released this week by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and reported by the Associated Press shows just how much YouTube has become part of our news life.
The study showed that YouTube, which started as a place to share videos, has become a major news platform.
TV news still has more viewers, but increasingly YouTube is becoming a go-to site for big stories and natural disasters.
The Internet and social media sites also serve as sources of news tips. Our stories this week about the unknown individual seen dressed as a goat on the slopes of Ben Lomond Peak came when one of our copy editors saw photos posted online.
We’re always interested in photos and videos, so keep us in mind if you and your camera find yourself around breaking news.
CORRECTING THE RECORD: In my last column, I wrote about how our sports staff chooses players for recognition on our All-Area prep teams.
Two points need correcting from that column. First, the statistics for a player that were cited in an email to our sports editor were compiled by a coach, not the player’s dad.
And second, the email said that the player was a state leader in runs batted in, not the leader.
Dave Greiling is managing editor of the Standard-Examiner. He may be reached at 801-625-4224 or via e-mail at email@example.com