Wednesday, September 22, 2010

30 day update: “Having reporters and photographers go mobile”

When we first set our ideaLab goals, I wanted to tackle having all of our reporters (news and sports) file their content from the field. My goal in this, besides just getting everyone familiar with the technology, was to help everyone realize that adjusting their work flow in this way could actually save them a fair amount of time and be more productive in their day-to-day schedules.

With our new reporters, this was a slow process due to the limited number of devices we have. I loaned out the netbook and iPad to reporters who were covering various court cases, town meetings, press conferences, and election parties – anything where they were out of the office and could take advantage of filing from the field while working on most of their articles remotely.

All of them have done this at least once now and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. They loved being able to use the netbook to take notes and write their articles as they went, rather than having to transcribe and try to read their own messy handwriting. They also like the immediacy of the process and how that especially helpful when reporting on deadline.

Sports reporters have been doing this for a while now and understand the benefits, as they spend most of every week out of the office covering their games, practices, and other events. Sometimes, such as when they're at high school games, they do not have traditional WI-FI to take advantage of or a real press box, so I'm lending them my ideaLab tools to help conquer that challenge.



One of our sports reporters, Will Montgomery, brought up a good idea when I was talking with him about what we could do to improve digital/mobile work flow. He noted that having a modern smart phone would help them be able to live Tweet and interact with readers as the action is happening and
suggested the possibility that they could have part of their phone bills reimbursed like for mileage to allow them to afford such devices – of course if JRC decided to provide them for everyone, or at least all reporters, it would be a win-win all around.

In the interim, I've made my iPhone available should he or any of the other reporters want to use it to help with their coverage of an event.

I'm also currently working with one of the photographers and showed him this morning how easy it is download a photo and e-mail it back using the iPad. I'm sure they'll have questions overall, but I'm glad he was receptive to the idea.

As far as measuring my progress, I've been setting up a simple list I made in Excel showing every reporter, whether they had filed remotely or not, how many times, whether there were any issues, if there was anything that could have been done better, and what they thought of the process overall.

So far, I'm pleased with our results and the response from members of the newsroom here at The Record.

With regard to training, I've continued to instruct others on how to get around using my ideaLab tools, building online slideshows, publishing updates to our web site, and editing video content.

For additional training, I would like to learn more about how to make the best out of metrics, both for TroyRecord.com and other projects that I am working on, whether through Omniture, Google tools, or some other resource.

Getting my 10 hours a week to work on a ideaLab stuff has worked out fairly well overall since I just usually space it out between my days. I've found it best to do a combination of that, and taking half of a slow day, like Wednesday, for it.

Now that the goal of my first project is progressing nicely, I'll just have to come up with what I want to try and tackle next...

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2 Comments:

Anonymous John Hetzler said...

As a sports reporter, I agree with Will Montgomery's idea. When I do have WiFi access at a high school event (though that's rare), it's great to use Twitter to interact and post live updates. Having a smart phone would be a great benefit and lend more immediacy to coverage.

September 23, 2010 at 5:20 AM 
Anonymous By Ivan Lajara said...

Tom, do the reporters post directly to the website, or do the file to the newsroom?
What do you use for big files, like video? Do they cut and upload video themselves?

My second project is to get reporters them to file to web directly, but this time from the field. We finally did a story tonight - even beating a councilman's tweet about the issue (cats, if you must know). Then it got tweeted by him (reporters now have access to the main Freeman Twitter account and Facebook page).

But then the reporter still had to come back to dump the video.

So we created a communal Dropbox account for big files (Now that I think about it, I should have done that a while back).

October 5, 2010 at 8:05 PM 

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