Posts Tagged ‘CoverItLive’

The transfer deadline day coverage I put together with sports journalism students at the Sunderland Uni was very well-received.  I make no apologies for performing a brief celebratory jig on behalf of the team, who did a fantastic job on the day.

We syndicated the content across the Johnston Press network and the user experience was really good, which is obviously the key win.

>> Sunderland Echo transfer deadline day live

However here are some facts, figures and quotes from those involved and those who took the coverage. Please note the page views are for www.sunderlandecho.com only as I don’t yet have stats from the many sites who took this content.

Numbers

Visits to blog page – 10,000

Comments from users – 4,200

Clicks on articles produced by students 50,000+ 

What the students said

“It gave me a great insight into how these things actually work, and made me want to be a journalist more than ever!” Anthony Gair

“It was a great experience and I’d love to be involved again if you do a similar event in August.” Chris Fryatt

“Really enjoyed the day. Would be keen to get involved in another transfer day or similar projects” Dave Preddie

“Got loads out of it! Great Day!” Hamish Blackstock (via Facebook group)

What the pros said

“The deadline day live blog was a great piece of work. Congratulations on a job well done.” Alan Greenwood, Editor, Scotsman.com
“Thanks for the transfer deadline coverage, it was first class.” Kevin McLaughlin, Sports Editor Londonderry Sentinel

“Superb platform yesterday!” Jon Peake, Digital Editor, Lancashire Publications Ltd, http://www.wigantoday.net

“Congratulations on the blog yesterday, thought it was really good.” Matthew Brown, Digital editor Portsmouth News
 

 

Transfer deadline team in action.

I’m still here. I survived. The digital adventures continue, for now at least.

Yesterday’s live transfer deadline day event was a great success thanks in large part on the day to the contribution of around 40 University of Sunderland journalism students – many of whom pitched up at 7.45am and earlier, then stayed for a marathon shift.

The numbers certainly stack up – with over 4,000 user comments on the blog and getting on for 10,000 views of the page – as well as over 50,000 more views on the articles penned by the students and shared to a specially-created section at sunderlandecho.com. And I’m sure those numbers will climb significantly thanks to the coverage’s syndication across the Johnston Press network.

More importantly, we delivered an interactive, up-to-the-minute, sustained piece of coverage which was lapped up by our users. The quality of the writing and levels of professionalism shown by the students were truly commendable.

Many thanks to David Allison, John Price, James Ronson and Mark Woodward for their help, support and patience too.

Now, what’s next?

>> Transfer Deadline Day as it happened

This blog has suffered of late. Blame the football transfer window.

I’ve devoted a pile of time in and outside work to pulling together a transfer deadline day service which will provide great experience for students and great coverage for sunderlandecho.com and many other Johnston Press sites – if it all goes off as planned.

Sessions with students to brief them on Coveritlive and the brand values of JP, meetings with lecturers to sort out turning part of the Media Centre at the University of Sunderland into a live newsroom, hours on Facebook and email enthusing students and sorting out incentives to contribute – right down to the sausage sandwiches we’ll take delivery of at noon… It’s been hectic.

Add to that the more onerous task of selling the project to my colleagues at JP and providing them with an affiliate pack including everything from web buttons to print ads, animated skyscrapers for their site to editorial penned by my excellent intern David Allison. Thankfully my pitch has worked – with the likes of the Yorkshire Evening pst, Yorkshire Post, Lancashire Evening Post, Portsmouth News, Belfast Newsletter and many more taking our content.

As a result all eyes are on us. JP’s head of digital content will be there, Sunderland Echo editor Rob Lawson is popping in… All of which ups the stakes and reinforces what a good opportunity this is for the students, I hope.

To be honest, it’s all a bit nerve-wracking. The pressure is largely self-imposed as the groundwork has been done and we did a great job last year when it was just David and I sweating in a room with 2,700 user comments pinging at us.  But we’re on the eve of d-day now and things are pretty much out of my hands. It’s now down to how many students turn up tomorrow at 7.45am for what could be an incredibly busy, and incredibly rewarding, day. And, no, I’m not just talking about the sausage sarnies.

What can possibly go wrong?

>> Transfer deadline day live

transfer deadline dayLast transfer deadline day digital intern David Allison and I ran a CoverItLive blog from 8am through to 6.30pm. Hardly original, but we used several techniques to make it an engaging read for users and a fun (if stressful) day for us. For the next deadline we’re scaling up the operation and asking student journos to get involved.

>> Sunderland Echo transfer deadline day Summer 2009 coverage

The response in the summer – thanks to intense work, solid preparation and some support from our sport team – was phenomenal. 7,000 visitors viewed the coverage and left 2,400 comments. It was a hectic day, but it paid off spectacularly with hugely positive feedback from those who took part.

For February we’ll step up the coverage on two counts. Firstly, we’re working with John Price in the Media department at the University of Sunderland. We’re setting up a live transfer deadline day HQ with a suite of computers, TV coverage from other outlets piped in and hotlines to other football journalists. We’re taking over the newsroom at the David Puttnam Media Centre for a day. No news yet on what biscuits we’ll be laying on…

Once again the blog will be hosted at www.sunderlandecho.com. But part two of our plan to ramp up the operation is inviting digital editors and editors from all across the Johnston Press network of 300+ sites – from The Scotsman in the north down to the Portsmouth News in the south – to take our coverage. It’s likely several smaller titles, including some dailies, will be delighted to do so.

As a result of this two-pronged approach we’ll be competing with similar services from national news outlets. Exciting stuff…

Any media students who want to know more or who wish to take part should email me or comment on this post.

They’re hardly new, but the power of live web chats for connecting with audiences, driving interaction and pulling in traffic should make them a staple for any digital newsroom. Best of all, with CoverItLive they are incredibly easy to set up – just log on to their site, register for a free account and place the embed code they provide on a blank custom page… You even get a chance to practice with the tool before going live.

At the Sunderland Echo we’ve used live text chats before to cover the Budget, for instance – with limited success in terms of participation. Near the climax of the 2008/09 football season we took the plunge with a footy chat, despite uncorroborated tales of dead air during similar offerings from rival titles in the north ea

Sunderland Echo live chat

Sunderland Echo live chat

st. The results suprised everyone in the office… Continue Reading »

I’ve not seen a live blog of a Premier League clash on a local newspaper site. Most of the live football coverage centres on lower league sides and the occasional FA Cup game.

To officially blog from a game you have to be mindful of the Dataco agreement which covers fixtures, results and reporting on England’s topflight.

But in the era of Twitter and Qik feeds to CoverItLive blogs, there must be a way to start a conversation with the readership of the Sunderland Echo around a specific game – even if it doesn’t mean presenting a traditional match report.

We could pay for a service such as the PA Match Centre to do it for us, or make infrequent updates throughout the game which would hardly constitute the kind of comprehensive coverage I’m looking for. Neither option is acceptable as a mechanism for engaging the audience (either due to prohibitive cost or our desire to maintain standards).

Scanning  the fixture list, Sunderland’s televised game at home to Portsmouth on May 18 and the ‘Survival Sunday’ on May 24 are musts for interactive coverage. The challenge is coming up with a solution that respects the licencing agreements without lurching into patchy reporting.

At the very least we should open a channel to fans who are watching the game anyway and want to discuss what they are seeing. Surely the Premier League haven’t signed a gagging order on pub-style banter yet…