Wednesday, September 21, 2005


BLOGS: Newspaper site uses Red Cross reporter as blogger in New Orleans


September 20, 2005

Mainers in the Gulf Coast

Posted by Scott Hersey at 10:06 AM, editor of MaineToday.COM

Allen Crabtree of Sebago is a Red Cross volunteer working out of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He headed down this past weekend after receiving some special training and now plans to stay there for a while. His job? He's going to be a reporter for the Red Cross, traveling around the area and interviewing workers and victims for Rec Cross publications. Last night, he spent the night with other workers at a church in Baton Rouge, talking with the pastor about his congregation's efforts to help.

How do I know I all this? I read his blog. Crabtree has agreed to blog for while in the Gulf Coast, giving our viewers an up close and personal view of his life as a volunteer.

"With another huge tragedy facing America I resolved to do more to help with the Katrina disaster relief than I had been able to do after September 11," he wrote in one of his first entries. "Not to belittle all of the local things that need to be done but I wanted to put to use some of the training Ive had over the years as a fire fighter and emergency medical responder. I vowed to help directly if there was a way to do so. Several of my fellow volunteer fire fighters on the Sebago Fire Department felt the same way.''

Crabtree's only been in Baton Rouge for about 48 hours, and his dispatches have already given all of us a close-up view of the devastation and the ongoing efforts of Americans to help Americans who have been suffering from the aftermath of the hurricane. I expect that as he spends more time and gets out traveling around the area, his reports are going to be even more compelling.

This is a good example of the citizen journalism concept that we Internet journalists are toying with these days. With blog software and digital cameras, anyone has the tools to be a reporter. Crabtree is already showing us that he has the eyes, ears and compassion of a reporter as well. I know that his blog has become a must-read for me every day and I hope all of you reading this feel the same way.

By the way, citizen journalism by no means replaces professional reporting. The Press Herald's Bill Nemitz and Greg Rec are also in the Gulf Coast and we expect to have all their reporting and photos here on the site as soon as they become available. Nemitz first report is scheduled to be printed in tomorrow's paper, so we should have it online tomorrow as well.

Scott Hersey has been the editor of since 2003. As editor
he supervises all content development and management for as
well as the online editions of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday
Telegram, Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal. He writes this blog to
help explain what's going on behind the scenes at You can
email him or call him at 207-822-4061.

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