We’re doing it live!
Anticipating a controversial speaker at my university (William Ayers), we knew there were going to be two stories: the actual lecture and any protests outside. The event sold out on the first day, prompting leaders to add an additional simulcast location to handle capacity. Our paper had secured four press passes for inside, and we planned for an additional five reporters (two photographers and three reporters) outside. I wanted to be a part of this event, so I decided, “What would be a better way than a live blog?”
I had previously participated in blogs that had used the CoverItLive software and wanted to try it out for myself. I signed up and it could not have been easier. They even have a way to launch a “practice session” to test out everything. For an upcoming event, the software shows an e-mail reminder form where the live coverage will be.
Preparing for the live event, you can add many media items in folders. I used this to post a map of campus I edited to show where everything would take place. I also used the pre-written text feature to write a welcome message, saving time when we went live.
Another nice feature is saved links. I used these to remind my readers that there was a live audio and video feeds also available to see/hear the event.
I set myself up in the middle of the action, outside the simulcast, across the street from the actual lecture to watch the protests outside. I had my laptop, cell phone and a card reader for photos. I designated one of our reporters to be a runner while I texted others to get updates.
For about an hour I posted every few minutes. For photos, I found a tiny Java program that resized and watermarked photos very fast. (Fast Image Resizer for Java). I used this software to quickly copy photos off of memory cards before using the CoverItLive media uploader in to post them.
With more readers came more comments. In CoverItLive, pending comments appear in the right of the window. You then have the choice to show (or not show) the comment, to allow all comments from a certain reader and to send a reader a private message. Many comments were about problems with the audio and video feeds (set up by the university and TV station, respectively). It was interesting to know that I was some people’s only source for the news.
Most of the protesters left by the time the actual lecture started, so things quieted down as the night progressed.
By the end, CoverItLive’s statistics indicated we had about 25 viewers. After stopping the live blog, the event can be “replayed” with everything listed just as it happens. You can see this on the post of our live coverage.
I thought the coverage was a success, and I would encourage any web team to look at this — maybe set up a breaking news plan-of-action to use CoverItLive when news breaks. And it’s not just for news- just think of how a sports reporter can cover a game with this kind of software.
Joe Moore is a sophomore meteorology major at Millersville University. He built the Web site for The Snapper using WordPress. The site is hosted at Site5. The weekly newspaper has a circulation of 4,000 and the Web site has about 1,000 weekly visitors.