about this sitesee Meranda's resumesee clips and work sampleskeep in touch

Archive for April 30th, 2008

Completing my collection of Clinton campaign coverage

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Today I got to cover the last of the Clintons. This one is the one that really matters, at least for now. Hillary Clinton was here in town. She spoke for about an hour in Riehle Plaza in downtown Lafayette.

Hillary Clinton talks about jobs in downtown Lafayette, Ind., on April 30, 2008.

Previously, as you’ll recall, I wrote about our coverage of Bill Clinton when he visited a local high school.

In the intermediate, as Indiana has become a Democratic political battleground (no seriously, someone pinch me because I never thought I’d see that happen when I took this job), we’ve also hosted Chelsea Clinton.

(Barack Obama came too, but he came the day I went home for my mother’s birthday. I told her that was how much I loved her that I gave up the chance to cover a potential future president to spend time with her. She told me I should have stayed. Ungrateful. Er proud? Several others have also stumped for Obama, but other than covering his economic policy advisers in a Q&A discussion, I haven’t been assigned to any of those. — Rumor mill is telling me that Obama may be back this week, so perhaps I’ll get my chance before next Tuesday?)

Well, I got my chance today to cover a potential future president (no I’m not taking sides here, I’m just saying, regardless of which side of the partisan isle or which Democrat you support, they’re all potential until one of them folds or loses for good). My assignment to cover Hillary Clinton was the same as bill: fast and frequent updates online preceding and during the event.

With Bill Clinton, it was our first attempt at live blogging. I’d say it was a success, but it was imperfect.

Since then, when I covered Chelsea, I couldn’t send as many live updates because of the set-up. I offered a few updates before, as it started and immediately after. It was a much smaller event, so not worth blowing out of the water like the others. I was also tasked that day with writing the A1 package about that event, unlike with Bill & Hillary, where my main role was simply keep the content fresh and help if other reporters need it.

At Obama, we threw the kitchen sink again. They sent live updates, but I was on vacation and wasn’t paying attention so I’m not sure how frequent or what they consisted of in terms of writing. They also tested live video streaming for the first time that night and it was, er, less than successful.

Tonight, again, I was tasked with the live updates (the time stamped ones in the middle of the page). And tonight, we had live video playing on the homepage. (We were actually working with a local high school student to do the live video. A great example of working with the talents of your citizens!) Throw in a video package and a photo gallery plus three other reporters — and Clinton got the kitchen sink as well.

More as an aside to the “real” journalism, but I also updated twitter throughout. I’m looking at Twitter in that case as more stream of consciousness and scene setting. The meat and potatoes of the speech was definitely going (quickly!) into jconline.

I noted last time that pressure for quick turnaround hampered my creativity and that nearly ever update began “Clinton discussed.” I’m proud to report not a single update tonight began with those words. In fact, because I was self-conscious about it, only four of the 16 updates I sent began with any form of “Clinton said…”

I tried to make it more engaging by not starting everything the same way. I also spent more time writing through some of the items rather than try to get everything verbatim. I’m not a court reporter in this case, I’m still a journalist. And a reporter’s job is to help readers make sense of not simply transcribe an event. I had a few typos, but overall, I’d still put this in the win category.

I think this is the type of thing you get better at as you do it more. I hope. I still felt a bit overwhelmed trying to get it all processed and written so quickly. It was fun, but I mean, literally it was non-stop for an hour. And that was all after I’d come in and reported and written the local page centerpiece this afternoon — plus already written several updates at the scene.

While I don’t anticipate any political powerhouses will be visiting the Hoosier state beyond next Tuesday’s primary election, I do think the groundwork we’ve laid during this campaign is vital.

We were training our own reporters and photographers to create this online content. That is definitely important. We know now what works and doesn’t, and we know what we are capable of when it comes to this type of coverage for other things down the line.

Perhaps even more important than training our staff, we were training our readers to expect it and to look to us for it. At points more than 250 people were watching jconline’s live video. I don’t know how many stopped by our live updates, but I suspect it drew at least some. I know I gained a few twitter followers during the event.

Long post short: Another win for the future of journalism. Another awesome adventure in reporting.