I have to say, looking at sites like statter911.com, Amanda Ripley, Breakglass, and the Post and Times news reports about the communications, my judgment about the communications was rather, well, disastrous.
I detailed a series of very serious problems, number one being the interference of DC Mayor Fenty in the ability of the Public Information Officers to carry out their assignments. That’s why I was rather surprised, maybe stunned, to see this action of the mayor praised in the Ragan Communications story on the crash communications.
Of course, there is a very great danger in pundits sitting from afar judging the actions of others (exactly what I am doing of course). But it strikes me that some of these crisis communication experts are evaluating it on the basis of an old paradigm: did the mayor get in front of the camera, did he say no comment, and did he present himself well. Well, I suppose he did all those things fine, I didn’t see them. But the point is the response communication was severely (and rightfully criticized) for essential elements such as what did the passengers know and when did they know. For non-transparent communications from Metro such as the train experience “mechanical” problems. There is far, far more to emergency response communications today than whether a governor or mayor does a great standup. The fact that experts in crisis communication are not looking at the whole picture is concerning to me. But then, maybe I’m the one seeing it wrong.