Royal liveblog and Press walk-out

Today the Post and Echo liveblogged the Queen and it was a LOT more slick than the second [text ammended – see comments] one we tried. It featured videos, photos, reporters Twittering news in – we certainly learned a lot from the LDP liveblog.
I can even see the funny side of a post being accidentally put on the publicly-facing site by a twat who perceptively named himself/herself T.W.A.T (I told one manager it stood for Tunbridge Wells Automotive Trust and it was a well-known anacronym – for a few beautiful seconds he believed me.
Then the Post editor Mark Thomas, Echo editor Ali Machray and I went to the opening of the Liverpool Cityscape painting at the Walker Art Gallery. It was a gathering of the great and good, who had rocked up in the name of Art, fizzy wine and nibbles.
Then artist Ben Johnson got up to make a speech… and 20 minutes later was still talking, oblivious to his audience’s growing distraction.
People had stopped listening… right up until he thanked the press office for “having to deal with bloody lazy press” and “managing to drag lazy reporters in so they could see what we were doing”.
Well, the bloody ACRES of coverage this inflated ass has got in the local media doesn’t bear telling. So Mark, Ali and I signalled our appreciation of his comments by Walking Out In A Huff.
The look on the Glitterarti’s faces was, in a word, picturesque.

Live blogging

The LDP Live day is winding down now – unless there’s some breaking news – and I’ve had two minutes to catch my breath. So I thought I’d just jot down my thoughts on the live blog while they’re fresh.
I know some of those who took part followed Francois Nel’s suggestion of noting how we felt about the project before it started. Mine were: “I wish we’d had a week to prepare for this; I really wish I had thought more about what it involved and I don’t know if I’m up to this.”
Revisiting that statement now I think what I actually meant was: “I hope everthing looks really good.” Which is a very different thing indeed.
The truth is that the live blog was everything a newsroom really is – chaotic, good humoured, pacey and sometimes exciting, sometimes infuriating.
We rode a catastrophe curve some of the day and personally I feel we pulled it off – which is what live breaking news is about.
I think a news team is at it’s best when things are just a whisker away from potential derailment: When the news is breaking as fast as you can type and the subs are screaming that you’re 10 minutes past deadline with the front page… and you still don’t actually have the story finished (although you never admit that).
And today felt like that, for me at least. It was very pressured, sometimes ropey and the streaming was hit-and-miss.
But still. But still.
This was one of the biggest team efforts in a newsroom I have seen in nearly 20 years of working in regional journalism. There were so many people of different technological abilities trying to make it work. David Higgerson – a hero of the day if ever there was one – told me we’d had 1,500 people on the live blog part of by the time I left this evening – be interesting to see what the final numbers were.
Martin Stabe asked me, quite rightly, what the point of LDP Live was.
Well, it wasn’t just about seeing what we could achieve with the different types of social media; it got everyone on the editorial team thinking about different ways of breaking news, telling stories, connecting with people. I hope it gave a little transparency to what we do, and I think it achieved a cultural shift within the newsroom that will have a long term benefit.
The experiences today have helped me understand the myriad different ways we can approach covering stories in the future. We used Bambuser and Qik but I didn’t even think of the potential for on-the-move podcasting with Utterz until a live blogger suggested it during the day. It was a real “Doh!” moment… Twitter also didn’t feature as much as it might have. But you know, we learn from our mistakes and ommissions and I guess different papers might approach it differently after assessing what they liked and disliked about our attempt.
I think it was worth it. I learned a lot and I had (with hindsight) a lot of fun doing it. And the Twitterati were, as ever, fantastically supportive – thanks everyone!

Taking the LDP live for a day

Tuesday May 13 will be the day I go grey, bite off all my nails, and possibly take up smoking again.
For Tuesday is the day the LDP goes live for a day. From 7am when the first stories are uploaded to until 1am when the last page is sent down to the press room, our decisions and actions will be live to the world and up for scrutiny and questioning.
I’d started outlining the Bambuser Plot to the editor when he interrupted and said: “Why don’t we just go live for the whole day?” in true Early Adopter fashion.
The LDP will run a live blog via all day so anyone and everyone can log on, follow what we’re up to, get involved and post questions, observations and tell us how and why they want the news reported.
Reporters will be online through the day, talking to people who are logged on, blogging what they’re up to or streaming from jobs.
The political reporter will crowdsource our audience for questions and topics before he goes to inteview Alistair Darling, and we’re also going to stream afternoon conference on Qik.
The reaction from the various business, news, features and sports editors is really positive, and the writers seem to be up for it too. And those people from the TM Leaders course I’ve told have been very supportive.
I think we’re getting funny glances from our sister paper – the main thing puzzling them seems to be why we would open ourselves up in such a way – but personally I think we as an industry have got to put aside this air of mystery and preciousness we like to cultivate around the way we allow stories to be told. There are enough rival mainstream news operatives and quality bloggers on Merseyside sharing information with our potential audience for us to have to look at the way we work; Tuesday is a way of trying to reconnect with past, present (and hopefully future)audience. We’ll test the technology and hopefully change some mindsets – internal and external.
It’s all set – I’ve written a page lead for Monday’s paper and online, and I’m letting the local radio stations know tomorrow. Everything is steaming ahead… but it’s nervewracking.
Will people like it? My hope is that while we’re bound attract criticism from some of those who log on, at the end of the day a proportion of our audience will feel more emotionally involved with the newspaper.
That kind of involvement is what all newspapers need to be reaching for right now.

Plotting an interactive day

Ooh I’ve had an idea which I think could be loads of fun to do and be excellent in terms of engagement and marketing for the Daily Post at the same time. I fired up Bambuser this morning so I could think it out loud, so to speak, and I’m still really excited about it.
Basically – and there’s about five minutes worth of me plotting this on the Bambuser blog at the foot of the page – I want us to live-stream a day in the life of the LDP. (Or a fair approximation of it – I doubt people would log on at 1am to see the final page revisions going through.)
So I’m off to see the editor now and see what he thinks about the while thing. Fingers crossed…

Fire alarm via SpinVox

UPDATE 2013: SpinVox subsequently closed down

Well we had a fire alarm in the office today which nobody knew anything about but it was the prefect opportunity to practice streaming via qik on my mobile phone and it worked really well.

I just need to work out now how to embed it the blog site because my quick test was if the phoned worked but then real thing didn’t so that’s my project for tonight.

Oh, and one one of the nice things about SpinVox is being able to post to the blog while I walk to my car in the rain”
spoken through SpinVox