Public E-mails Shuttle Info to News Sites

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By: Anick Jesdanun, AP Internet Writer

(AP) The Internet is serving as a nexus and bulletin board for Columbia shuttle disaster information as the public shares digital photos and eyewitness accounts with NASA and news organizations.

NASA established an e-mail address at for people to submit images and text. The space agency also made provisions for people to send photos and video using a more complex procedure called file transfer protocol (FTP).

News sites have also been getting a rich trove of contributions from readers.

The jointly run Web sites for The Dallas Morning News, WFAA-TV, and the cable news station TXCN have created a searchable database with those contributions and planned to make it available as early as Tuesday, said Tim Buss, the sites’ creative director.

“So many people sent us information, we almost owe it to people to get the information out there,” Buss said. “It helps people understand where people have found debris. It gives people more information about their area.”

Personal eyewitness accounts from readers in the coverage area can offer “more of a human touch than a short story that appears later that afternoon or night on the Web site,” Buss added.

The sites are also creating new e-mail addresses, including, specifically for future contributions, Buss said. So far, the sites have received dozens of photos, maps, and links to personal Web sites with video., a Web site devoted to space news, “received hundreds if not thousands of e-mail, from ‘I think I saw it overhead’ to lots of condolences,” said Anthony Duignan-Cabrera, the New York-based site’s managing editor. “People have created folk art and poetry.”

Contributions allowed reporters to write about the disaster long before NASA officials provided details, he said, though the unsolicited accounts do have a downside. Aware of the possibility of hoaxes and misunderstandings, Duignan-Cabrera said reporters had to make phone calls and take other steps to corroborate the accounts. “We only wrote stuff we knew we could verify,” he said.

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