THE NEWSDESK: After the flood, we must all learn the lessons
CLOUDS were gathering above the city. The moon was reflected in the swollen waters of the River Usk.
Sandbags were placed in doorways. Phones rang with automated flood warnings. Residents stood on the river's sides and watched for signs that the tidal surge would make it burst its banks.
Some got on buses and left their homes. Others chose to stay put and ride out the rising waters.
And people took to social media in their thousands.
Last Thursday night, in particular, brought home to me just how important social media now is when it comes to major incidents.
People shared information. They shared their experiences. They shared their fears.
And the night also brought it home to me how there are winners and losers when it comes to disseminating information on social media.
Us, the traditional media, we're pretty darned good at it. We understand it. We understand the value of good and trusted information on social media.
Some organisations simply do not. Still. They do not get it. They do not understand that wild rumours will circulate if good, reliable information is not readily available when people need it.
And that is not 24 hours after something has happened, not even a few hours.
In the darkness of Thursday night, I had tweets from people who were worried about their sick baby's safety, people who did not know whether to leave their homes or not, people who were very worried by an automated message which mentioned "danger to life". Once they heard those words, they heard very little afterwards.
People wanted to know if sandbags were available, and some wanted to know if they could help.
Our job was to sift through the reports of things happening, to try to verify things where we could and to put out information from our brand which was as accurate as we could possibly put out.
And that task wasn't made any easier by the lack of responsiveness to us from some organisations.
There were few people in those organisations available to take questions, let alone answer them - despite the fact the tidal surge warning was expected hours before.
Sometimes, those who are on the end of our questions forget why we ask them. We don't ask them because we want to create work for someone, or mischief, we ask them because that is our role - to ask the things which the public want to know.
And which the public have the right to know. Because they are, more often than not, funding the organisations of whom we ask questions.
At a time when we are all being asked to pay more for less - more taxes for fewer services - there needs to be a sea-change in attitude.
A change in mindset.
Publicly-funded organisations - be they councils, police forces or health boards - cannot operate on a 'them and us' basis which withholds information until it is convenient for them to release it.
WHY are we all wishing our lives away?
It is time we stood up against the thieves of time who are so keen for us to be over the Christmas and New Year holidays, that they are putting out stands packed full of Valentine's Day cards, Easter eggs on sale in some stores, and putting adverts for Easter eggs on TV .
The Christmas build-up began in September. Next year, I predict it will begin in August, shortly after a rain-sodden late August bank holiday.
The answer is startlingly simple. These people are doing it because they want our hard-earned cash. We have to teach them that to get our hard-earned cash, they have to stop making us thoroughly depressed.
Let's give our precious funds to those who understand that to every thing, there is a season. Those who advertise their wares when we want to buy them, not when they want us to buy them.
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