Here's this week's version of the The Three, the e-mail we sent internally to try and communicate good ideas, best practices and advice from the newsrooms at MediaNews Group and Journal Register Company.
Vol. #2, Week of Jan. 23
1) Google+ Hangout with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder
Last Dec. 22, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder participated in a Google+ hangout hosted by The Macomb Daily and The Oakland Press. Topics discussed included updates on the governor's major initiatives, the current political climate in Michigan, the national political scene and Snyder's personal life.
Karen Workman, community engagement editor at The Oakland Press, said a reporter and editor used one computer to produce the video chat, and three Flipcams were used to shoot it. At The Oakland Press, a third staffer sat off-camera to curate the meeting. Oakland Press Online Editor Stephen Frye said the biggest stress was whether the video bandwidth would hold up, but he said there were no issues during the chat.
The end result of this experiment included a story that mixed traditional text with video from Snyder's interview, giving the reader a unique multimedia experience, one that intentionally bounced the reader between text and video. Because who says text and video always need to be viewed separately? Sometimes, the best answer is to integrate them seamlessly. The Oakland Press and Macomb Daily also produced a Storify stream that captured live Tweets and videos, and wrote articles on the news made by Snyder and on the experiment itself.
For other staffs who want to try video chats, Frye advice: “You're live on camera, so you don't want to be looking down and reading notes. So know your questions and have fun.”
2) Using ScribbleLive to cover severe weather in the Denver area
In covering a snowstorm, The Denver Post used a free trial of the live-blogging tool ScribbleLive. The idea came to Social Media Editor Dan Petty after seeing impressive live-blogging examples from other news organizations.
Petty curated tweets using the #COwx hashtag and searched for “Colorado snow,” “Denver snowstorm,” etc. He pulled content from Facebook, from other news organizations and bloggers and -- obviously -- from the Post newsroom itself. All the content was posted in a live blog that received traffic from the Post's main story. The Denver Post encouraged readers to submit photos through a Google submission form, and also featured live radars and various widgets to communicate relevant information. Six different reporters contributed to the coverage. The live blog received 5,581 page views, and received more than 300 shares on Facebook and 137 retweets on Twitter.
Petty's advice to other newsrooms experimenting with live blogging major news events: Have multiple contributors. For a breaking news blog to be effective, a significant number of people need to be feeding it. For more information, e-mail Petty or reach him on Twitter.
3) Covering a deadly manhunt with precision – on a tight deadline
At around 8:30 p.m. last Dec. 12, staffers at The Morning Journal in Lorain, OH learned to shift focus to breaking news – even while on tight deadline -- when police announced they were hunting for a man -- who would later kill himself. During the manhunt, a deputy was shot via “friendly fire.”
Veteran photographer Jim Bobel and reporter Allison Strouse rushed to the scene while reporter Rick Payerchin manned the phones. Editor-in-Chief Tom Skoch updated the website, Facebook, Twitter and sent SMS text alerts. Photos and video were posted to the web and, in follow-up coverage, TMJ live streamed press conferences.
The stories and the follow-up coverage drew 25,225 page views. Skoch blogged about the tools used to cover the story and then the user reaction to how it was covered, and a TMJ Community Media Lab blogger wrote about the shootout through the prism of mental health issues.
Skoch's advice on fast-moving breaking stories: “Just be flexible and fast. Be ready to scrap your original plans for the night and throw everything you’ve got into getting the big new story.”
BONUS: Here are some recent posts from Steve Buttry that highlight some other successes: Banjo app helped Andy Stettler find local tweets and Lisa Fernandez shares a crowdsourcing (or fetching) lesson.