Monday, May 11, 2009

What A Difference Four Days Makes

The picture on the left was taken late Wednesday afternoon. The picture on the right was taken Sunday just before sundown. As you've probably figured out, both pictures were taken from the same spot. But what a difference.

Barring a recurrence of those unpredictable sundowner winds, officials hope to have the Jesusita fire contained by this coming Wednesday.

How did the fire start? Officials believe that a power tool may have sparked it. They think that an individual, or possibly a group of people, was clearing vegetation on what appeared to be private land near the Jesusita Trail around the time the fire erupted Tuesday.

I thought that Doc Searls made an interesting observation on how the people who work in emergency operations have their own vocabulary.
A fire is an "incident." Police, fire, Red Cross and other personnel are "assets." Lifting an evacuation order is "repopulation."

The next time Wendy McCaw lays people off from the News-Press, perhaps we should refer to it as "depopulating" the building.

My vote for the media outlet showing the most improvement in how it covered the Jesusita Fire compared to how it covered the Tea Fire in November, goes to KEYT.

My favorite story to come out of the Jesusita Fire was Colby Frazier's article about retired UCSB professor Richard Martin, who took refuge from the firestorm in a concrete bunker he had built years ago as part of his Mission Canyon home.

Best radio coverage? You'll be surprised but I give it to AM 1290. That's right, "News-Press Radio." By Wednesday, they were on with pretty much wall-to-wall coverage of the fire. It seemed to me that if I wanted to turn on the radio and immediately hear news about the fire, the News-Press station was the best bet.

Can't say the same about the News-Press itself though. On Wednesday, the second day of the fire, the News-Press only had one story about the fire. Thursday wasn't much better. On Friday, the morning after the fire's scariest night, the News-Press had a photo of a displaced bobcat on its front page.

However, Saturday and Sunday brought big improvements over the previous days' coverage with more fire stories from various angles.

It was nice to know that somebody at the News-Press either got the message or figured it out on their own.

Of course, if you were trying to get your fire news from the News-Press' website, you were out of luck. Unless you were a subscriber to the paper. They were the only ones who could access the Jesusita Fire articles on the website.

Luckily there was The Independent, Edhat, City 2.0, Noozhawk and of course Twitter, for plenty of up-to-the-minute fire news on the web.

And, worst article, anywhere, about the Jesusita Fire was this one on the Daily Beast website.

Is there any more obvious way to call attention to the fact that you're being superficial than to call Santa Barbara a "wealthy enclave?"

Thanks to reader Linda Stewart-Oaten for bringing this one to my attention.
© 2009 by Craig Smith and