CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Charleston Daily Mail government reporter Zack Harold has won a national award for using social media to inform the community during the Sissonville gas pipeline explosion in December.
Digital First Media, which manages the Daily Mail newsroom along with newsrooms across the country, announced the awards Tuesday.
The competition, known as the DFMie Awards, was open to journalists working in Digital First Media newsrooms across the country and sought to recognize the best journalism of 2012.
Harold spearheaded the Daily Mail's social media coverage of the explosion on Dec. 11, which caused a monster fireball that destroyed homes, vehicles and a portion of Interstate 77.
In their nomination letter, editors explained how Harold used the curation website Storify to compile social media updates from both journalists and residents discussing what was happening at the scene as the situation unfolded.
The Storify served as a reservoir of breaking news and reaction, and has received 4,873 views to date.
DFMie judges explained why Harold's social media compilation was a winner:
"Zack Harold's Storify of the Sissonville explosion is a great example of how journalists can use social media to provide useful information during a breaking news event," they wrote.
"Harold showed a great deal of insight into what people would want to know during the event -- where to go for shelter, which roads were closed, reports of any injuries -- and what they might want to know afterwards, like how asphalt actually melted during the gas line explosion.
"By giving multiple accounts of the accident, gathering pictures from social media, and pulling from the official emergency response messages, he was able to give a well-rounded picture of what was going on in real time."
Other finalists in the social media category were Jeff Edelstein of The Trentonian in New Jersey for his Facebook engagement during Hurricane Sandy and Lisa Yanick-Jonaitis of The Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, Mich., for her coverage of the reaction to a high school's withdrawal of an invitation to a commencement speaker who is gay.
Harold is a native West Virginian and a 2009 graduate of the University of Charleston, where he studied print journalism. He joined the Daily Mail shortly after completing his degree, starting out as the newspaper's education reporter before switching to the general assignment/health beat.In December, he became a member of the Daily Mail's statehouse team, where he covers the West Virginia Senate. Harold also writes for the Daily Mail's Capitol Notebook blog and publishes a weekly email newsletter, The Capitol Notebook Week in Review.