Media viral vortex: shelf life of a story
When I met Lee Wachstetter aboard the Crystal Serenity in 2012 I was captivated with her story. She loves to dance, and since her husband died she's lived aboard the ship so she could dance every evening.
I met her through Emery Lendvay, a Madison Township man who was an Ambassador Host for Crystal. He danced the evenings away with women like Mama Lee, the affectionate nickname given Wachstetter by the ship's staff His courtly European manners and smooth dancing style made him a favorite. So, of course, I also wrote about him.
Not long after those stories appeared, I got an email from Dave Ashley who played trombone with the ship's Galaxy Orchestra. He was home in Lexington, Kentucky on a break between sailings and had found my stories online. He asked if I had any photos of the orchestra. I told him I'd look, and later I blogged about how he found the earlier stories online.
Fast forward to January 2015. Someone else wrote about Mama Lee. I heard it was USA Today but things have moved so quickly since then I haven't been able to check.
Soon the story had gone viral. It was picked up by other newspapers and TV stations and everyone was looking for another angle. The ship was at sea so calling Mama Lee was not an option.
Sharp reporters searched with Google and found my earlier stories and soon I was being contacted by other news outlets. First it was London's Daily Mail and then it was a German television network, both asking to use my video. I gave permission as long as they linked back to The News-Herald. Newspapers these days live by hits, It's something they can take to the bank in terms of ad revenue.
The Daily Mail, with its one million circulation, credited me, Janet Podolak but at the Miami Herald. I asked for a correction, which they made. And we got plenty of hits.
I haven't yet seen what the German TV network is doing but now when I Google "Mama Lee" I find my story and its video have been put up on many other newspaper websites. But you can click on the words in contrasting print for the original stories in this saga.