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Day in the Life of Greater Lafayette, with a twist

The whole “24 hours in Community X” project has almost become cliche. I still love these photo collections though. As long as you don’t overdue it, they can be awesome glimpses of the every day life the newspaper too often overlooks.

Today, the J&C is taking a spin with its own Day in the Life project. But with an awesome twist.

We’ve been putting call-outs in our paper all week to solicit our readers photos. And the reporters have all been in touch with their beat contacts and sources to ask THEM to participate as well. (I think the editors wanted us to find people who would definitely participate to “seed” the site and encourage others. It looks like it’s working because so far many of the photos submitted are from people who appear to be regular beat contacts.)

Not only are we soliciting our community’s pictures, we’re publishing them and our own photographers work side-by-side (sort of) in real time online: Check out the sweet timeline our online staff put together.

Day in the life project

If you look at the timeline above, you can see that the staff photographer’s photos appear across the top and the reader submitted ones along the bottom. Just a quick glimpse through the photos today and it appears our readers have already posted more than our own photogs. That’s awesome. Some of those photos include kids camps, the mayor and police chief getting ready, a video conference call with the founder of C-SPAN, blowing bubbles, creating crafts, etc. A few even highlight the obvious: Looking at the J&C’s Day in the Life project.

We’re also giving this huge play on the front of our site:

day in life project

In the carousel (don’t ask me — that’s what the three tabs with big photos that rotate are named in GO4) they’re swapping out the most recent updates about hourly. Those link back to the timeline above.

There’s also a link to the special project from our “In the Spotlight” promo section.

Finally, the photographers are keeping an ongoing “notebook” of their adventures. (We do similar reporter notebooks regularly to just collect the tid-bits of big events. So all that campaign coverage included stuff like what the candidate’s playlist was, who was spotted there, any unusual things — like banners hanging from buildings or elderly women ripping candidate signs — or whatever just doesn’t fit in the mainbar but is worth noting. My hunch has always been these are the most read parts of the story because they’re quick hits.)

Back to my point.

Not only is this a great example of involving your readers and using them to literally be your eyes and ears in the community, but it’s also a good example of Web first.

See, we WILL be publishing the best of what is gathered today in print (both from our photogs and our readers). And like these sections always do, it will take a week or two to pull together. It will get its own special section and all that traditional stuff.

But what makes this so cool is that this is happening real time. The day is being published live — today. I think we’ll probably gather more submissions as the day progresses and people see that other community members are participating.

Final thought: Have your papers done anything similar? What did you learn? Could you do this?

3 Responses to “Day in the Life of Greater Lafayette, with a twist”

  1. Notes from a Teacher: Mark on Media » Friday squibs Says:

    […] Day in the Life of Greater Lafayette, with a twist. Ooh, this cool: put the overdone “day in a life” on a timeline. […]

  2. Ellyn Angelotti Says:

    Great blog!

    The Lawrence Journal-World also did a similar feature last year about this time. You can see on the site how they played this content in print and on their television newscast too.


  3. mccxxiii Says:

    This looks really neat and fresh, but I have a larger question: Why should I care? How are pictures of what random people are doing today useful to me? I barely even care what my *own* kids do at day camp, let alone someone else’s kids. BO-ring.

    Also, you spelled “overdo” wrong. “Overdo” is to do too much of something, “overdue” is when you’re late returning a library book.

    BUT … all that said, I do like the timeline-of-photos idea (if they were photos of something interesting) and I applaud the web-first thinking.