Sunday, August 24, 2008

Texting, tapping, clicking, tweeting, filming: The Rocky Covers the DNC

I've written several times before about how I think one of my local newspapers, the Rocky Mountain News, seems to be doing a fairly decent job trying to transition a traditional newspaper into the digital age. The first part of the title of this post is the headline for John Temple's article from Saturday's paper on covering the convention:
For Sen. Barack Obama, this could be the pivotal week of his long campaign.

We hope the same holds true for the Rocky in what has been a long journey from being just a newspaper to becoming a live source of news and information.

For the first time in planning for a major news event - and we've prepared in the past for everything from the pope's visit for World Youth Day to the Summit of the Eight - our focus has been first on what we would do on the Web, on how readers would experience our work on their computers and cell phones.
I find that an interesting choice of words, "just a newspaper." And while it makes perfect sense, I also find it interesting how they are acknowledging that they are producing for the Web first, and the paper second. And given schools' almost universal ban on cell phones in the classroom, it will be interesting to see how policy clashes with practice if major news organizations start producing for the cell phone first.
For us, the change is exciting. But it's also challenging. It's required many of us to learn new skills. We've been training for months, testing our new approaches to make sure we're ready to give you something different, something you'll value not just in the morning when your paper lands on your doorstep, but all through the day and night.

The Rocky will have about 150 journalists on the street covering every aspect of the convention. Their work will be featured on and on our mobile Web site, If you want to follow what they're reporting, you can sign up to receive their Twitter Tweets by going to RockyMountain If you want to see what's going on all over Denver, you'll be able to watch their video clips and see their still photos posted almost instantly on our Web site. If you want to comment on our Web site about what's happening, you'll be able to do that, too.

It's going to be a rich stream of content that we'll organize for you in real time to keep you atop everything from what the candidate is doing to which celebrities are in the Mile High City.
So a newspaper is going to be tweeting the convention.
The Rocky Mountain News uses Twitter in several different ways. Each reporter has a Twitter account they use to communicate breaking news from the field. When you see a Twitter feed embedded with a story, those updates are live and immediate. The Rocky also has Twitter accounts that act as news feeds.
If you go to their DNC page you'll see their embedded live twitter feed.

And posting videos. And allowing - and encouraging - comments. And providing a "stream" of content.
We'll have more people with cameras on the streets than any other news organization, from reporters with cell phone video cameras to sophisticated, award-winning videographers. Our goal is to immerse you in the scene.

In the past, we've published instant books to commemorate the most dramatic events in this city. Well, this time we're going to produce something we'll make available to a global audience - an instant multimedia retelling of the events of the week. Working in collaboration with MediaStorm, an Emmy Award-winning multimedia documentary company, the Rocky will have on its site next Saturday what we hope will be the definitive interactive account of an event that will be talked about for generations.
Their goal is to "immerse" us, and then they'll provide an "instant multimedia retelling" of the events of the week that they're going to make available to a "global audience." (Okay, could that have been written by an edublogger?)

Now, contrast all that with what's happening in many classrooms around the country this week. Anyone else see a disconnect? I'll close with John Temple's last paragraph (emphasis added by me):
You won't be able to be everywhere this week. We will be. I hope you'll join us.


  1. The Rocky's approach is very positive per se. However, I am not sure that the Democratic convention is a topic I would like to have such a comprehensive coverage of. After all, we all know what the result of that convention is going to be: Obama and Biden are going to be confirmed on the ticket. Individual speaches are far less interesting. There are so many other important news stories in the World at the same time that I am certainly not going to use much of my time to follow the convention.

    This goes just as well for the other convention. Once McCain spells out his VP, which he is bound to do before the Republican convention, there is very little of substance to be covered.

  2. Don't know if you knew this, but the BBC were using twitter as part of their coverage of the Beijing Olympics.

    Coverage was limited (I think it was more of an experiment rather than anything major) but you can find some of the tweets on their Olympic map here: