Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Catching up on digital/community projects at The Record

It's been far too long since I've updated this blog, so let me start by catching you up on the digital projects that we've been working on at The Record over the last month.

First off, I'd like to update everyone on the success we had with live-tweeting our first murder trial in Rensselaer County Court last month.

Reporter Dave Canfield spent more than three weeks sharing details from inside the court room, attracting a large number of new followers and helping change the way local trials are covered in the Capital District. The Albany Times Union also began to tweet the trial, along with local television station anchors who were camped out at the courthouse, but only after our reporter got the OK from the judge to start doing so from inside the courtroom with his laptop.

Here's a recap from the reporter's point of view:
Covering a recent murder trial on Twitter as I sat in the courtroom with a laptop proved more engaging with readers than anything else I’ve done here at The Record.
We asked for special permission to cover a long-awaited double-murder trial on Twitter, breaking the usual rules of no cell phones—let alone computers—in the courtroom. It increased the number of followers I had on Twitter by a third by the time the trial had ended.
It got the most important revelations about a well-known 9-year-old murder case out there faster than any other means I can think of could have. The added followers aside, putting our hashtag feed on our main page at put it out there to people who do not use Twitter as well. I heard from some of those people.
I also heard from various followers asking about the testimony or sharing their thoughts. The mothers of both prosecutors began to follow me. Family members of both victims did as well.
When I tweeted about readbacks requested by the jury during deliberations and what they might mean, the mother of one of the victims came and asked me about it minutes after I posted the update, curious about what I thought.
Then, like so many other times, I was surprised how many people were watching.
It will be worth asking to provide similar coverage to every trial that comes up here in Troy; this trial proved that.
- Dave Canfield

In total, Canfield gained more than 60 new followers over the course of the trial, with a handful of users (including other news organizations) retweeting his observations as he continued to send updates, which, according to previous reports from, reached around 4,000 individuals over that time.

We considered this a great success and look forward for the opportunity to add this to our coverage of other course cases, and other live events, going forward.


The Record also recently began setting up events and partnerships for the use of our on-site Community Media Lab at 501 Broadway in Troy.

Last week, for Troy Night Out - a monthly arts and culture even in the city's downtown which is held on the last Friday of every month, we displayed the work of a family of local photographers as well as a musician offering live music to the crowd that came out.

While our attendance could have been a little higher, it was great to experiment in offering different programs in the space to benefit the community that we're a part of.

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