Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Breaking news story offers opportunity to fully execute JRC's new 'news ecology'

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy locked down its campus this morning after an alleged armed robber was reportedly sighted near one of its buildings. Police are still searching the city for an unidentified male who made off with more than $40,000 after he allegedly robbed a local business.

A few years ago, you would have first read The Record's coverage the following day.

A year ago we might have posted a short story online with a few details fairly late in the news cycle on the same day.

Today we have reported continuously as the story developed, from roughly 90 minutes after the theft occurred at 8:10 a.m., through the morning and early afternoon as police warned the community to stay behind locked doors. And more reporting is coming this evening.

I have blogged lately about our newspaper’s – and our parent company, Journal Register Co.’s – rapid adoption of a digital first philosophy. Here's a rundown of how our news staff – led by Tom Caprood - did an excellent job in reporting a breaking news story as it happened today.

Photographer Jeff Couch called into the office with a report that the robbery had taken place and that police were on the scene at 8:30 a.m. Within 10 minutes Caprood was on scene with a Flip video camera and notepad to get what very few details police would offer, and a few quick shots of the scene and a helicopter flying overhead. A brief video was uploaded just before 10 a.m. (2,118 views as of 2:30 p.m.); and another with the audio of the R.P.I. alert was posted shortly after 10 a.m. (1,536 views as of 2:30 p.m.).

And another version of the original video edited with reaction from local business employees near the robbery site was uploaded at 2:12 p.m.

In addition, a story was updated throughout the morning as it progressed. Photos were posted. By 2 p.m., reporter Jessica Pasko added more from a press conference on the matter, and an R.P.I. statement on the matter was posted at 2:37 p.m. A story was published about (and a link established to) Troy Mayor Harry Tutunjian’s controversial tweet criticizing RPI’s emergency alert system (further coverage on this development will be published by reporter Dave Canfield tonight.) And city editor Jim Franco blogged about the controversy.

Some more highlights:
- All of our reporters have created work-related Twitter accounts in recent weeks, and several drove traffic to the site with their breaking news tweets.
- Many of our sources for reaction stories came from mining Tweets from R.P.I. students and others.

We gained more than 40 Twitter followers throughout the morning and had 13,000 page views on the coverage by just before 3 p.m. I’ll report out more on our same-day and next-day traffic on Thursday.

Kudos to all who wrote, posted and edited coverage, shot photos and video, and blogged. Welcome to the new “news ecology” … let’s do it again tomorrow.

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