OUR VIEW: Daily News snow cone story went viral

By Daily News • Last Updated 12:53 pm on Thursday, December 15, 2011

Don’t let that headline fool you, our snow cones are just as safe as anyone’s. Thanks to our coverage a lot more people know that our first responders can get a snow cone thanks to a grant from the Michigan Homeland Security Program.

The story truly went viral — as in a national sensation.

We published the first story on the snow cone machines on Dec. 3. By Dec. 6, the Drudge Report based in Washington, D.C., posted a link to our story at www.thedailynews.cc atop its website. The ensuing avalanche of traffic promptly crashed our website for a short time that morning.

By that point, our news partner, WZZM-TV 13 in Grand Rapids, picked up the story, as did some of the other Grand Rapids TV stations.

The story went national the next day on Dec. 7 when Fox News Channel host Neil Cavuto picked up the story. The network bought its own snow cone machine and demonstrated how to use one on the air.

A variety of other national websites also wrote about the story or linked to our website throughout the week. The increased traffic led to a record number of page views we’ve received on our website for a single day, a single week and a single story.

The frenzy culminated with a four-minute comedic look at the story by “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central. Comedian/anchor Stephen Colbert poked fun of the idea for first responders to have snow cones as a weapon to fight terrorism, even using our quote from Montcalm County Emergency Services Director David Feldpausch justifying the expense.

The sketch can be viewed at www.colbertnation.com.

The Detroit Free Press ended the week with a story about the homeland security snow cones on Dec. 10.

The snow cone story more than most shows the value of quality small-town journalism. We first found out about Montcalm County receiving its snow cone machine from a routine Board of Commissioners agenda. The item was tucked into a long list of other more useful equipment provided for local emergency crews from the Homeland Security Program, such as reflective vests, flashlights and two-way radios.

Only a group of journalists committed to local coverage focusing on local coverage would have taken the time to even read the list of equipment, let alone pick out the one item that didn’t seem to fit with the rest. It was a small detail that was not very prominent that blew up into a big deal.

Such is the case with a variety of stories we’ve printed over the years and we will continue our mission of keeping close tabs on local governments — especially how they spend your money. That’s commitment you won’t find anywhere else.

We may be small, but we have a big reach.

Editorial opinions are a consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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