Last week, the region tried a new approach to the traffic and crowds drawn by the Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bikefest. The approach, developed over months of hearings, proposals and logistics plans, was seen as necessary following Memorial Day weekend 2014 when there were three fatal shootings, seven gunshot injuries and eight arrests.
Our newsroom tried a new approach as well. In our case, the idea was to provide the community with continuous online coverage from 6 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily, Friday through Monday morning. Remembering the gridlock on Ocean Boulevard in 2014, we reserved rooms on both ends of the Myrtle Beach oceanfront so a reporter and photographer could get quickly to any significant event. We hoped there wouldn’t be a repeat of 2014’s mayhem, but we wanted to be sure we could bring news to you immediately if there was.
We also had someone poised to send text alerts and to post on Facebook and Twitter to keep residents and visitors monitoring those sites up to date.
I’m proud of the work this team, led by city editor Dawn Bryant, did to keep readers connected to what was happening in their communities. It demonstrated the power of journalism presented digitally on a variety of different platforms and in a variety of forms, from words to interactive maps to videos and photo galleries. It’s something we couldn’t have done even two years ago, and it’s certainly the kind of wall-to-wall coverage we want to provide for any major news event that will have a large-scale effect on our neighbors.
Just as law enforcement officials will be examining their plans to see what worked, what didn’t and what should be tweaked for next year, so will we. If you have thoughts, please let us know.
Speaking of Memorial Day
Over the course of the weekend, I noticed several posts on our Facebook page and some articles taking us, and others, to task for describing efforts over the Memorial Day weekend to honor veterans. It is wrong to make Memorial Day about all veterans, the thinking seems to be, because the day was established to honor those who have given their lives. Veteran’s Day is for the others.
Hmmm. To me, it seems stingy to exclude one or the other on the designated holiday. I don’t understand how it can be interpreted as disrespect for one to also honor the other. It seems to me that anyone who has served, is serving, or has a family member in the military deserves to be honored at every possible opportunity.
And for the record, we plan to continue honoring all of the above on all of the holidays, through our coverage and through efforts undertaken by employees of The Sun News, such as the American flag display and banners in front of our building.
Thanks in advance for sharing any insight, and any thoughts on what we can do to improve our coverage of major events, such as a hurricane, by using all the digital tools at our disposal.
I’ll be out of the office for the next several days, but I look forward to seeing your responses on my return.