Two big stories are happening at stations owned by Gannett, the same company that owns my station, WZZM.

You have probably heard of both: the Buffalo plane crash and the Florida search for 5-year old Haleigh Cummings.   But I wanted to talk about and show how they are using social media to better engage their customers.

Right now on WGRZ’s web site, they are streaming live coverage of the crash investigation.  But look below that: they are moderating a live web chat using CoverItLive.  The chat has been full all day and more than 4700 people are watching the live video coverage online.

Our Florida station, known as First Coast News, has this page devoted to coverage.  But check back at 4pm this afternoon; they are doing 2 and a half-hours of news with a lot of Haleigh coverage and, if the past holds true, they will also encourage the web community to talk.

I know people in our West Michigan community are offended by some of the comments our customers leave on individual stories.  And we have not had a story this big to try out live web conversations for hours on end.

If you have time, please check out what our stations are doing and let me know what you think: great use of social media, waste of time or somewhere in between?