Behind The Scenes
31Aug/120

(My personal) Food for Though, Part 7

I found a good cartoon from Joshua Castillo's website, Political Graffiti, posted a couple of years ago on the state of the journalism industry -- exploring the different ways people digest information theses days.

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31Aug/120

Budget for Sept. 1, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Sept. 1, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

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30Aug/120

Pursuit or Non-pursuit?

Consider the following headlines and excerpts from earlier this week:

Man arrested after pursuit, stand-off (8.29.12)

Police arrested a local man Tuesday after he led them on a high-speed pursuit through Windham County. ... "Right now we have one man in custody and he's receiving medical treatment," Faverau said. "That's all the information we can release at this time as the investigation is ongoing."

Townshend man arrested after shots fired

A drunk and disorderly 54-year-old man was taken into custody Tuesday afternoon after members of the Vermont State Police were dispatched to a home along Peggy’s Lane for a report of numerous gun shots and a man threatening violence towards a neighbor. ... Despite witnesses claiming there was a high-speed chase prior to the stand-off, (Lt. Paul) Faverau said there was no such incident.

I took an interesting phone call from a reader earlier today, asking me about how such a "mistake" could be made -- excellent fodder for this blog.

Using the above as an example, here's how coverage for a story like this evolves:

On Tuesday afternoon, a call came over the scanner that there was a possible high speed chase taking place in Townshend, with a standoff. The dispatcher would be making the case based off 911 calls to the police. One of the reporters was immediately sent to the scene. Since an active stand-off was taking place, the officers on the scene were not available for comment. The reporter took notes at the scene and spoke with witnesses.

The following day, we were able to talk to the police and get full information from the incident for a follow-up. During that conversation, we discovered that contrary to witness reports, a high speed chase did not transpire. It is assumed that they may have witnessed an unmarked investigator's vehicle followed by State Police cruiser, en route to the scene.

Obviously, before running a story, we try to get as much information as possible. From emergency responders, officials and eye witnesses. And when that information appears in print it needs to be attributed appropriately. Sometimes witnesses see things incorrectly, and that's the point of running clarifications and follow-up stories.

In hindsight, some of the information presented could have been clearer. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a story. The educational piece I take away from this, is to make sure we are very clear where information is coming from -- a good lesson for reporters and editors alike.

30Aug/120

Budget for Aug. 31, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Aug. 31, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

Filed under: Budgets Continue reading
29Aug/120

Budget for Aug. 30, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Aug. 30, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

Filed under: Budgets Continue reading
29Aug/120

Experimenting with Storify

Earlier this year, a representative from Digital First visited the Reformer offices to talk about various social media tools. One of those tools was Storify, which day editor Bob Audette has been experimenting with on his blog.

I finally put together an account for the Brattleboro Reformer (www.Storify.com/BrattReformer), and today put together a piece on the Bartonsville Bridge for the website. Storify allows users to bring together various elements from multiple sources to offer readers a multimedia presentation from multiple angles.

Before providing a link to the piece, here's a little background as to its development:

We originally planned to have a reporter on the scene to put together a story, but his car broke down and he missed the event. However, photo editor Zach Stephens did get photos from the ceremony, which we used in print to go with an Associated Press story on Tropical Storm Irene memorial events around the state. (I should mention, for those who don't know, the Bartonsville Bridge was an historic bridge in Rockingham; a resident captured the moment the bridge was swept away by flood waters last summer, and that became one of the more striking images from Irene.)

This morning, Zach told me that he had also shot video from the event, already live on our YouTube channel. That, with the photos, and the video from the flooding ... the pieces started to fall into place for a more substantial online offering. That's where Storify comes in: those above-mentioned elements, plus a few more pieces I tracked down online, and we were able to present the equivalent of story, only not in so many words (pardon the pun).

Check out the finished product here.

Certainly this will not replace traditional reporting, but I do enjoy it as a new way to tell stories to readers, and look forward to it becoming a more regular part of our weekly routine.

(One thought I had was to use it as a weekly online wrap-up, as a sort of editor's picks or week-in-review. We shall see ....)

28Aug/120

Specialized Twitter feeds?

I read an interesting piece about the best ways to utilize Twitter feeds, recently. The main gist was that sometimes feeds dedicated to a specific area of coverage could yield better results than, for example, the main news feed a news outlet might utilize.

I can certainly understand the concept; I made sure the main feed for the Reformer (Twitter.com/BrattReformer) deals almost exclusively with local news, major national or international headlines and breaking news. The goal down the road would be for the arts and sports departments to create and develop their own feeds. People want to know what they're getting, especially when they can pick and choose the way they get their information. If you like a particular sports team, they follow that team, not the entire league. I want people to follow the Reformer's news feed on Twitter to get the best local news from southeastern Vermont and the surrounding areas, as well as alerts on any major news happening in the world on any given day -- all as it breaks.

The report I read, however, takes that concept a step further, suggesting that there may be benefit to creating feeds for local elections, or specific Selectboards ... or, as I recently did as a semi-experiment, one that focuses on all of our coverage on the anniversary of Tropical Storm Irene and the subsequent flooding that ravaged Vermont last summer. You can follow the feed at Twitter.com/ReformerIrene.

The biggest benefit I see (so far) is that the mass of Irene-related stories the newsroom has worked on won't choke the main news feed for the Reformer. The biggest challenge is promoting the feed and getting folks to follow it. I'm also not sure what happens to the page in several weeks when the Irene anniversary is no longer a topic of interest. I won't worry about that quite yet, and instead push forward with the "experiment." I'm interested to hear what readers think.

28Aug/120

Budget for Aug. 29, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Aug. 29, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

Filed under: Budgets Continue reading
27Aug/120

Budget for Aug. 28, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Aug. 28, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

Filed under: Budgets Continue reading
26Aug/120

Budget for the Aug. 27, 2012 edition

Here's what the newsroom staff is working on for the Aug. 27, 2012 edition of the Reformer. Please note: Just because it appears on this budget, doesn't mean it will run in tomorrow's newspaper — some stories will be held to get complete information; some stories may be dropped completely. Stories might be held for space, or other timing considerations. Also, breaking stories may not appear on this budget.

If you have any information that could be useful to any of these stories, we'd love to hear from you (call 802-254-2311 ext. 7 or e-mail news@reformer.com).

Filed under: Budgets Continue reading