In a recent blog post, the Washington Post’s Rob Curley applauds the Las Vegas Sun newspaper for its coverage of a fire at the Monte Carlo hotel, Las Vegas. Curley heaps praise on the layered and multimedia approach the paper took in its reporting, as well as the speed with which it was produced.
This is his breakdown of how the news was reported by the Sun:
1. Began with a live blog, regularly updated by the newsroom staff.
2. Addition of photos – the newspaper also set up a way for users to submit their own images through Flickr.
3. Overview of the situation and context e.g. history of the Monte Carlo hotel.
4. Addition of videos – all put up, as Curley points out, while the building was still burning.
“To me, this was a nearly textbook example of how a local newspaper should cover a big breaking news story in its community in the iPhone era,” Curley writes.
His advice to other newspaper newsrooms: be prepared for breaking news.
- Ask what the contingency plan is for a sudden surge in traffic coming to your site – can it cope?
- Have breaking news page templates to hand – something that Curley used in his time with the Naples Daily News and the Lawrence Journal-World.
- Offer real time coverage to beat rival media.
- Don’t just treat the story in print – this will be after the event has happened and too late.
Why bother? Because, says Curley, local news organisations should use their proximity to events to beat off the competition and serve their audience best.
A comment on this article from Saturday’s print edition of the newspaper, which was used to complement the web coverage, neatly sums up Curley’s argument: “I couldn’t have got that from CNN or any other news station. I was hooked from the start.”