Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Almost live from Wichita

Inspired by Ryan Sholin’s running commentary, I thought trying to cover something live looked fun. So I gave it a shot.

Armed with my new smart phone, I figured I do what I could to cover a news conference this morning as live as possible. My foldable bluetooth keyboard was still on order, so I typed out a few paragraphs with my thumbs and emailed it to Jeff, our trusty producer.

I then recorded an interview with one of the sources on my phone. I had signed up for a Twitter account, as Ryan had suggested. But I decided instead to just attach it in an email to Jeff.

Nothing fancy, like Ryan’s widgets that put it on the site immediately. I get nervous when I don’t have a copy editor or someone to listen to the audio file. I think we all need someone looking over our shoulders. This blog is about as adventurous as I get on posting without an editor, and my wife offers to read over these posts.

It was almost live, as immediate as we get on Kansas.com

Like Ryan’s running experiment, it wasn’t necessary to cover this press conference on road paving live, or even close to it. Still, I gained was some valuable experience and a little learning to make it easier to do this when a breaking news event demands it.

What I learned:

  • We need to label such coverage, or at least write in this happened “minutes ago,” so our readers know we’re giving them information as immediate as possible, as opposed to when our broadcast colleagues are “reporting live from the newsroom.” (I mean, aren’t we all?). Along these lines were the readers’ comments that said "This story was barely started. Nice reporting.". I wanted to add my own: “I’m typing with my *%$# thumbs!”
  • My phone doesn’t record great audio, and Katie had to add some gain before posting it. But it will work in a pinch. I also recorded audio on a digital recorder with a mic, just in case. It turned out, this worked just as well on this occasion, although I wouldn’t want to use it to do a serious slideshow, or for video.
  • Next time, I’ll take some photos on my phone and email those, too.
  • I am indeed getting my mojo working, and gaining more confidence in going immediate with the news. After all, even if I file a few paragraphs and an audio file, I can always update it later/ Note: we update on the same files throughout the day, so what you’re looking at is the later version.
Meanwhile, our online boss, Nick, is becoming convinced that we ought to equip all reporters with smart phones.


  1. Oh my. No fair accusing me of inspiring people. Next time I want to see photos, too... Did an official hold up a bucket of road glue?

  2. No, just a dried strip of glue and a small brick. We had video of people spreading glue on the road, and we decided ... nah! But I should have snapped some camera phone pictures of that. I'm definitely going to do more of this kind of thing.

  3. Yes, I would like to see a macro close-up of that glue, please.

    But more important, I want the make and model of your new phone! Please.

  4. Mindy, for you, anything.

    It's the T-Mobile Dash, which replaced my Treo 600 after it died.


  5. I'm routinely reporting live - and it's a process I believe should be worked on with editors and fellow journalists. For council meetings I write a preview story of the big agenda items, then during the meeting I take notes on my laptop and e-mail the vote, quote and a few details on the council's action to my editor who posts that to the web story as an update. I also can type up short stories and photos using my smartphone - an iPhone - and e-mail those to my editor. I used this method (but without an iPhone) while I was waiting in line for the iPhone and I used my old smartphone (iPaq 6515 pda/phone) to e-mail in photos with short text descriptions that my blog editor then posted to the blog. It was an awesome, easy way to update the blog live and we received a bunch of web page hits.