Hello everyone. I know it’s been a while since my last post here, but with the holidays and my rediscovery of a certain video game that rhymes with “myrim,” it’s been a busy two months.
But now it’s a new year and I hope to move forward with a new dedication to regular posting here and over at the Chronicle’s newsroom blog — where my co-author Ted Sullivan has made a similar resolution to post more often as well.
Part of what got me back in the blogging mood was a post by digital news consultant Steve Buttry. (Reading his blog regularly is another of my “resolutions” for the new year. It’s actually a habit I just need to get back into. Alas, a lot of my RSS habits died with Google Reader.)
The very title of his post is pretty much a question/complaint about digital journalism that I have heard in this newsroom at one point or another over the last three years. People here have been concerned about tipping off the TV news people by tweeting or posting stories early. Because the TV news airs at 5:30 and 10 p.m., the public might perceive that TV broke the story, so that it’s “old news” by the time it appears in ink the next morning.
Granted, this opinion has withered somewhat as the importance of the website has become more and more clear. On top of that, we are pretty much digital-first now, or at least we are trying to be, posting stories online well before the Associated Press can beat us with a stripped-down copy of the same thing. It’s a far more progressive place that we have been in ever before.
Still, Buttry indirectly raises a great point about the website that I haven’t had the time to consider deeply enough. We need to be offering online features that drive people to the website, features that take advantage of the Web and make the experience there unique from print.
Maybe I’ll put it this way: We can be digital-first all we want, but if “digital” is offering nothing more than people can get in print, so what?
The low-hanging-fruit idea that I gleaned from Buttry was to use a live-blogging service — he heavily promotes ScribbleLive, though we have used CoverItLive here — to provide live coverage of stories. Embed a live blog into an article on the website and stream in the reporter’s tweets. Make it clear to the public that they can follow the meeting live either on Twitter or on our site.
Bam. Something print can’t do. Easy.
Look for something like that from us soon as I figure out which live blogging service we’ll use. I’d like to pick up ScribbleLive, but it costs… well, it costs, which is always a hurdle in this brave new journalism industry world.
Another thing you should look for from the Chronicle in the new year is a new direction with blogs. We have all gotten too busy to post much here, and I think that needs to stop. We need to either post more and get you, our readers, involved in the conversation better via the comments. And if we can’t do that for a particular blog, I think we need to look at cutting it.
I have a couple of reporters interested in starting new blogs this year, so we’ll see where that goes. One may focus on business and another on city matters. What other topics would you like to see covered?
For that matter, what other features have you seen out there in the wild that you’d like to see us offer? What else can we do to make the website experience better and more useful to you? Let me know in the comments or reach out to me on Twitter.