June 30th, 2009
It was a hot day in Dallas when a bipolar driver decided to lead constables on a 90 minute high speed chase. Local TV stations went to live coverage as the drama unfolded. It was great televsion – with the driver narrowly missing smashing into a semi trailer, and then sliding through the grass where he knocked down a road sign before getting back on the highway once again.
While the chase dragged on, the local Dallas Fox affiliate streamed the chase live on their website (in addition to their on air coverage) and invited people to join a chat session about the chase. And that’s the point of this message – in the early afterrnoon on a Monday in Dallas – nearly 3,000 people joined the conversation. Once again showing the power of social media to quickly draw a crowd.
As in all these instant chats – some are asking serious questions, some are trying to be funny etc. But the bottomline is that Fox4 got almost 3,000 people to engage on their website at two in the afternoon – out of nowhere – simply by giving them a chat opportunity next to the streaming video of the car chase. They do the same thing during severe weather – and is also draws a sizable crowd. So – when we encourage you to interact with people on multiple platforms – it is important that you add this technique to your playbook.
This chase ended when the car ran a stoplight on a surface street – and was t-boned by a pickup truck. The chase driver is in critical condition. Using social media in this way is powerful topical promotion to help draw viewers to your newscast because they’ll want to find out the person’s condition, see highlights of the chase again etc. Don’t let these opportunities pass you by.
June 17th, 2009
Juli Buehler, longtime news director at WLUK, Fox11 in Green Bay, had spent her entire career at the station in a windowless, cramped basement newsroom. It was a drab work environment that was unable to keep up with today’s technology. As of a month ago, Juli and her staff work in one of the most modern, well-planned newsrooms in America.
Station owner LIN Broadcasting went ahead with plans to build the Fox11 News and Content Center this year – despite the dire economy. Juli spear-headed planning for the facility and it is truly a gem. Most importantly, it is one of the first newsrooms built from scratch in recent years that encompasses today’s and future technology – allowing Fox11 to push news content quickly and efficiently on all platforms. Juli explains the open concept of the building addition allows journalists to work on multiple platforms, simultaneously. “We are now better able to move our digital news content quickly to the online platform. And not only can we broadcast live from the News and Content Center, but we can stream that material directly to fox11online.com.”
The Fox11 News and Content Center offers many ideas that would aid your planning for the newsroom of the future. Here are some important points of their facility:
- The Feed Room is only steps away from the centrally-located assignment desk – allowing them to take in all feeds (ENG, broadband, BNN and satellite).
- The Ingest Center allows reporters and photographers to ingest material from any format to the Avid system.
- Internet producers work in the same pods as broadcast producers allowing constant communication.
- A monitor wall in the center of the open newsroom allows for multiple presentations. They can feed the monitors from their own computers in the feed room, or from tape decks, or make one monitor the assignment board, and also feed video, graphics and live shots to the monitors making it a presentation area during newscasts.
- Cameras in the Content Center are suspended from the ceiling (to save space) and can be remotely controlled by the assignment desk and producers.
- The sports department has its own feed area eliminating any traffic jams with news feeds.
- Low profile work spaces add to the open feel of the Content Center and allows easy communication throughout the room.
- The weather center is an integral part of the newsroom for easy communication with producers and the desk during severe weather. The meteorologists control their own flash cam which is suspended from the ceiling. They have the ability to go live from the weather center any time – even if they are alone in the middle of the night. The station has no master control – it is part of a LIN Hub – and the Fox11 meteorologists can interrupt the station’s feed to the Hub. This adds great speed to getting weather information on the air.
- The art department is also in the Content Center for easy communciation with producers.
The Content Center has two conference rooms – a smaller one for daily editorial and other planing meetings, and another which is larger and truly unique. It has a suspended projector plus a flatscreen/monitor for multiple video feeds. But what is most unique about it – there is no conference table. The room features large, very comfortable chairs with writing space and wheels. I have conducted workshops in this room – and the ability to move the chairs around makes for a very easy, friendly environment that sparks creativity and input from everyone. In the old conference room the table was a barrier – not everyone fit around it and those not at the table felt disconnected. I held a workshop with 32 people filling the new conference room – and it was a lively session that everyone felt a part of.
It is truly moving to heaven for the folks from Fox11. Juli says, “Remember we were roughly 60 people in a basement, with no restroom facilities. We were three to a desk. Since LIN purchased our station we’ve seen a huge investment in technology, which is exemplified by their dedication to creating this new environment for creating news and other content.”
To see more pictures of the Fox11 News and Content Center go to this link: http://www.fox11online.com/dpp/news/news_wluk_ashwaubenon_content_center_opens_200905121305_rev1
P.S. Back in the day, I used to work in the cramped basement at WLUK as I started my TV career – that was almost 35 years ago! It was definately time for an upgrade. Kudos to LIN Broadcasting for making it happen.