Storms in the Internet Age
"Kyrill" is over. As it swept across our country, the need for information was immense, as were the number of sources of information-in theory. But what we had to experience in Germany during the biggest storm in eight years was ultimately a failure of the information channels - at least compared to what is available to us today.
In the run-up to the event, the weather services did a good job this time, everyone was warned and largely well prepared. But when things got serious, the weather service servers couldn't cope with the flood of inquiries. It was a similar story with the Deutsche Bahn website.
The public broadcasters and the large online magazines can cope with such storms of visitors. They provided us concerned with storm tickers. News tickers, however, lead themselves ad absurdum if they no longer distinguish between important and unimportant.
If relevant information like
+++ Autobahn A 46 closed near Düsseldorf ++++
++++ Bahn blocks long-distance traffic between Hamburg and Hanover ++++
++++ Deutsche Bahn ceases operations in NRW ++
of messages like
+++ Rush hour in Berlin is canceled ++++
++++ Zebras and giraffes saved from storm ++++
++++ excitement in day care center ++++ being pushed into the background.
It sounds almost regrettable in times of disaster journalism:
+++ Siegburg spared so far ++++
++++ "Everything normal" in Frankfurt am Main and Munich ++++
++++ Tree almost falls into house ++
Of course, the good sides of a "monster storm" also deserve a mention:
+++ Early closing time ++
++++ Berlin children get no school ++++
++++ Court process in Würzburg interrupted ++++
That should at least have pleased the accused.
But what does a message actually want to tell us that
++++ Storm, rain and sun on Husum ++++
rule? This should be the case 165 out of 365 days a year.
What remains? The stale feeling that online media treats events like a hurricane more like a traffic generation event than they use their robust server architecture for real information sharing.
In addition to Spiegel and Co, ARD and ZDF have the necessary - fee-financed - systems and computer capacities to handle extreme amounts of page views. And their job is to inform, not entertain. If their employees don't manage to distinguish between important and unimportant, who will? Then the only thing left to do in quiet times is to instruct employees of those institutions that have something to say in crises - i.e. the weather services, transport companies, electricity suppliers, civil protection - in the appropriate systems so that they can independently and quickly access the websites of the public broadcasters in the event of an emergency can provide first-hand information. After that, the distanced processing and evaluation of the events in the hands of us journalists may continue to be in good hands.
The storm is over. The media institutions and politicians should use the calm afterwards to set up a national information portal that is free of sensational journalism and an atmosphere of catastrophe if a catastrophe really does occur.