Hyperlocal Media Coverage Of California Malibu Fires

While researching my presentation for the recent Talk Is Cheap unconference, I came across a fantastic post by Mark Glazer. Alongside discussing the response of media outlets to the first set of fires, Glazer noted the lack of hyper-local coverage of the fires.

What many people who are evacuated really want is simple information on the condition of their home and neighborhood.

He also quoted Dan Gillmor, director of the Center for Citizen Media, who said:

I suspect it’ll be startups, not news organizations, that figure this out…But this is squarely in the sweet spot for traditional media if they understand their missions.”

Now comes news of more fires in western California, this time around Malibu. These fires were much smaller than the ones in October, but news organizations once again went to town with interactive maps and other new-media coverage.

Related to Glazer’s post, though, Fox News found Gillmor’s "sweet" spot and went hyper-local on its map, pinpointing individual houses that were damaged or destroyed.

View Larger Map


Very impressive, but again, where was the state government in this?

Ok, these fires weren’t so big so maybe didn’t warrant coverage on their homepage. Surely there’s something up on their Fire Season site though, right?


The only evidence of any fires on their homepage was a link to a news release in their long list of releases.

(Ok, that page does link (yet again…) to a video (not to a player – to the video file directly) and a ‘photo essay,’ but I’m not impressed.)

Another missed opportunity for the state and another home run by the ‘traditional’ media.

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.