Thursday, February 17, 2011

How to cover events live and have users participate while news happens

If you are a regular Freeman user, you might have noticed that we've been venturing in new, um, ventures this year.

We're finally getting the hang of livestreaming important events, such as the Mayor's Message; a city council meeting, the state comptroller's press conference and the state of the County address, and assorted highlights after the fact.

We've encountered some successes as we learn and we're expanding upon this, with live tweets and user comments. We're also working out some kinks, like figuring out how to get my awful face out of the thumbnail in the livestreams.

We've found that the most successful way to do this it to livestream an event, while a reporter files live tweets from the field while, at the same time, users can comment and ask questions, such as "why is the camera on the floor?" (That was a real question from the state of the County address).

Those who miss the live events have a chance to revisit the videos later and post their comments and questions then.

We're also starting what we hope will be a regular feature in our pages site: Livestreaming with the Mayor.

On Wednesday at 11 a.m., we'll sit down with city of Kingston Mayor James Sottile in a live interview that will be broadcast to the public. What's neat, aside from the live part of it, is that you'll get to ask the questions.

Seriously, try it. Send us your questions, in a comment in this post, or in a tweet or in a Facebook message and we'll ask the mayor, who said is eager to answer your queries. Better yet, come by on Wednesday at 11 a.m. and ask your question live. We're giving more weight to people who use their real names, but if you feel uncomfortable asking your question identifying yourself, that's fine too.

Also, we've been regularly posting your photos and insights into happenings in the Hudson Valley, be it snow storms, gas episodes, award shows and whatever you want and need to know. As users have become producers of content, our 'competitors' are not the traditional media. IT'S YOU!

That's why we're trying to provide you with a better and much, much more engaging Freeman. And that's why we've partnered with SeeClickFix and have a growing roster of area bloggers to provide you with what you want and need.

Yes, we have ways to go. And we know this tenfold. But we can't do this alone, so I'm asking you to share your thoughts with us and tell us what can we do to improve upon this. And believe me, we know that we're not giving you all you want and need. That's our challenge. We're trying to do our best with what we have, and we will focus resources into what's needed.

I can only give you this: The best part is yet to come.