I checked my group’s Ebola sources for a second time on Saturday afternoon. The outbreak seemed to have taken a backseat to everyone’s weekend plans — an only partially facetious statement. It had only been about 24 hours since my initial check, but several of my group’s news sources (some of which post about Ebola daily) had not published anything new on the Ebola issue. Having spent time working in a newsroom, the lack of weekend coverage is a very real and major concern for media organizations. Publications can work to limit the damage the weekend inflicts, though, as I found was the case with one source in this analysis.
BBC News had not published an Ebola item since the Sierra Leone lockdown piece that I referenced in my earlier post. On the BBC News website, the spot occupied by the Sierra Leone story had been replaced by another story, but the site’s “Health” section consisted of two lead stories — both on Ebola. I’m unsure whether this was the case yesterday, but finding a way to keep stories — like the ones on Ebola — on a website’s homepage is an effective way to at least give the impression that an issue isn’t being ignored. From a less cynical perspective, keeping the stories on the homepage allows readers who might have missed the story on Friday to fill themselves in over the weekend.
There was nothing new to report from our two Twitter feeds, operated by the news curator and the Nigerian health official, respectively. It’s the weekend after all, and these individuals have lives — a fact that hits individual media members much harder than it does major publications. The Ebola subreddit had a bunch of new posts, the top-rated of which was a story on the thousands of people who evaded the lockdown in Sierra Leone (BBC News is lagging only a little behind as of Saturday afternoon). The Wikipedia page on the Ebola outbreak had not been updated since last check; it seems, though, the page is revised frequently to reflect current numbers of those touched by Ebola, as well as to detail latest developments and response efforts. The Nigerian broadcast news website had not posted anything new about Ebola in its print section. I spent about 10 minutes watching the site’s live news stream, which was airing a story about a factory that produced shingles in an assortment of colors. Cute little weekend feature, I suppose, is what they were going for.