It was just meant to be a message of thanks from a local newspaper to its heroes, but a Facebook post by the Newcastle Herald has gone viral.
A photo of Rural Fire Service volunteers taking a quick break during a harsh day of fire-fighting by Newcastle Herald photographer Phil Hearne has garnered almost four million views.
“During a crisis, the web’s number one role is to inform people and help them make decisions about their lives, and most of all to be safe,” Newcastle Herald online editor Eve Nesmith says.
“But it’s also our role to facilitate a conversation that unites the community in an emotional sense.
“Whether that’s to express themselves, or to salute the bravery of the firemen and women who many feel they owe. That’s what we’re seeing in our Facebook results today and across.”
More than 100,000 people showed their appreciation for the tireless efforts of the firefighters by ‘liking’ the post on the social networking site. More than 75,000 ‘shared’ it among their friends.
The post was even brought to the attention of the mother of two of the firefighters pictured, Jeannine Power, who couldn’t contain her pride.
This was noted by the Newcastle Herald’s staff, who contacted her to see if they could speak to her for the story behind the photo.
Ms Power put the Herald on to her sons, and consequently, the Herald put her sons on the front page on Monday.
Ms Nesmith said it was an example of how one post can unify an entire community in gratitude.
“Facebook is another example of how social media is a two way conversation,” Ms Nesmith says.
“It’s such a unified exercise that paints such a multidimensional picture at time of crisis.”