The new-age of reporting

9 May

The 2010 general election was the first election I was actively involved in, both in a democratic sense, and in a journalistic capacity.

Myself and three other student journalists, (Daniel Bentley, Joseph Stashko & David Stubbings) headed down to Preston Guild Hall on Thursday 6 May to keep the readers of Blog Preston informed as to what was going on.

After a brief meeting in Starbucks the day before, to clarify with one another how we were going to approach the evening, we decided on several things.

We were going to use Cover It Live software as the main way of keeping in touch with our audience, as it was the most immediate option to get information into the public domain; Daniel was in charge of keeping this live blog up to date.

I maintained a text update post, as text on Cover It Live does not get picked up in search engines. This post was updated every twenty minutes, with the latest news and rumours reported; with breaking news reported as soon as possible, both on Daniel’s live blog and my text-updates.

The Blog Preston team

Dave was charged with the task of photographing everything, without breaching any election laws! He snapped some great shots, setting the scene and giving those reading the updates the feeling that they were there in the Hall with the action.

Twitter played a big role in the evening too, we used the #preston10 hashtag, which was eventually well-used, with party supporters in the room, members of the public, and Preston City Council all using it. This allowed us to easily pick useful tweets and comments and bring them into the Live Blog to broadcast some voices other than our own.

I think, although obviously biased, that we trumped the mainstream media by some distance in our coverage of the evening. It was alarming to see other members of the press resorting to such old school, traditional ways of telling a story that demanded immediacy. In just using the very limited supplies we had, four laptops, a camera & a mobile phone; we managed to pip the BBC to announcing the result, get the information that the LEP published almost many hours later; and get the first, exclusive interview with newly-elected MP Mark Hendrick before any other media outlet.

I can only hope that the mainstream media, such as the Lancashire Evening Post, couple the traditional means of journalism with those of the current environment.

We are past the days of writing our copy by hand, and phoning it into the news desk, as witnessed in the early hours of Friday morning.

Grab your laptop, don your camera, and get with the times.

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