Saturday, January 05, 2008

It's a Different Era

I continue to find the Rocky Mountain News’s approach to the read/write web very interesting. Today’s paper was a case in point. John Temple’s column (he’s the Publisher and sporadically blogs himself) talks about their version of “live blogging.”
Our Washington correspondent, M.E. Sprengelmeyer, had the idea to plant himself in the middle of the stream of candidates flowing through the first state to vote in the first presidential nominating contest. His goal would be to chronicle what it takes to land on the podium at the Democratic National Convention in Denver or the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis.

. . . M.E. arrived in Iowa on Easter Sunday and has been a writing fool ever since . . . The guy has written more than 160,000 words on his blog and more than 130 newspaper stories since he arrived in Iowa. The Des Moines Register was so taken with his approach that it wrote a story about him.

. . . We've experimented with live blogging on major news stories before, such as the excellent work by Jeff Smith, David Milstead and Sara Burnett on the trial of former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio. The goal with M.E.'s blog was to go even farther, making it clear that the blog was the center of what we were doing.

The result is not just that the Rocky has provided, in my view, a perspective on Iowa and the presidential race worth paying attention to. It's also that we're going to approach other major stories in a similar way, starting with the Colorado legislative session beginning next week.

Traditionally, we've had one reporter cover the House and another the Senate. This year, we're going to have one reporter blog throughout the day, under the direction of a seasoned political editor, Jim Martin. Some of the accounts from the blog will be edited for the next day's paper, just the way we have with some of M.E.'s blog postings. The other full-time legislative reporter will focus on providing more depth and insight into the goings-on under the dome.

In addition, we'll also be sending knowledgeable beat reporters to the Capitol to report on stories falling into their area of expertise. So you'll likely hear from our environmental reporter or energy reporter and many others as issues on their beats arise. Developments they cover will make their way onto the blog before they're published in the paper.
On another, sadder note, the lead story in the Rocky this morning was about Major Andrew Olmsted, who was killed in Iraq on Thursday. Major Olmsted had been blogging for the Rocky since May (when he was in training) and since July from Iraq. (Update: His full last post posted posthumously on his blog.)

His goal was to share his front-line experiences with the American people.
The Rocky has also had YourHub for quite some time and I just discovered an offshoot of that titled YourSpace:

Welcome to Your Space. In this section you can submit photos of your baby, pet, or your latest vacation. It's also a place where you share news about your community through our partnership with

We encourage you to have fun. That's why we give you the chance to vote on your favorite photos submitted by visitors. This is just the first step in what we hope becomes a major part of this Web site.

Have suggestions about what you want to see in this area? Send us a message at
At the end of Temple’s column he talks about sharing stories with two other papers in Colorado, but then says the following – which I think applies to the newspaper’s foray onto the web as well:
It's a different era. When editors from these papers sat down with us to discuss whether it would benefit their readers more if they shared stories and photographs than if they kept them to themselves, the answer seemed obvious . . . If we help one another, we actually help our readers.
I do have one suggestion for Mr. Temple – the online version of his column didn’t link to the different blogs he mentions (and the print version didn’t include links either). That seems like an obvious thing to add. (Back Roads to the White House and the Nacchio Trial are available, they apparently don’t have the link up yet for Live from the Colorado Legislature.)

I will continue to watch the Rocky with interest, as they seem to be actively going after using the web to provide a better product to their readers.

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