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How Can Civic Media Help Cover 'Slow-Motion Disasters'?

I'm helping MIT's Center for Future Civic Media put together a talk on how better to cover slow-motion disasters, and I'd like your thoughts.

The bursting of the housing bubble, for example, cost the American economy $8.3 trillion. Yet for a decade, national media missed signs of the coming disaster, acting instead to simply keep pumping.

While we can cover hurricanes and terrorist attacks, we – the media, Americans, humans – seem to be terrible technologically and rhetorically at covering disasters that unfold slowly, stories like oil spill cleanups or health care policy that take months or years to fully tell, yet, as that $8.3 trillion number shows, absolutely require attention and action.

So what reporting models would help avoid or mitigate these disasters before they happen? What examples have you seen, as we at MIT have with Jeff Warren's grassroots mapping work in the Gulf or much of the work at ProPublica, of people or groups already doing a good job of using new tools and methods?

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