I was up on the balcony of my rooftop apartment in Taipei, Taiwan, in July of 2008, when the first signs of Typhoon Fong-Wong entered the city center. The sun had just gone down and the normally bustling city streets were empty below. The following day would be a “typhoon day” with schools, government offices, and businesses closed. There was a calm and an eeriness in the air and yet it was so beautiful I had to go back inside for my camera. The calm before the storm. I came back outside a minute later and the beacon from the world’s tallest occupied building, Taipei 101, was shining heavenward into the mist. The storm had technically just arrived! After shooting I immediately wanted to share – and so I uploaded the image as my first CNN “iReport” .
Last year’s typhoon season would deliver four major typhoons in a row – including Category 5 Typhoon Jangmi. While a number of the footage clips I was shooting and talking head reports I was filing were used on air from Morning Express with Robin Meade in the US to CNN International in Asia, it wasn’t until I was contacted by a woman in America with a husband on a ship just NE of Taipei (during Typhoon Jangmi) that I began to take the power of the iReport seriously. She told me through a comment on the user-generated site that she couldn’t get the information I was providing anywhere else and that she was truly thankful.
The point is that anybody can become a citizen journalist. You can share your photos, your thoughts, and even try your hand at the odd interview. So whether you’re a journalist, a citizen journalist, or a citizen journalist in the making, with Flash River Safari, you’re more than welcome to come along for the ride!