SRCCON Recap: Developing New Live Coverage Story Formats

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By TIFF FEHR

Six generations of New York Times live coverage story forms.

The Times uses many different page layouts and media in our report. Of course this includes articles, our essential story form, but we also spend significant resources and time supporting other important forms: photos, slideshows, video, audio, interactives, story collections and much more.

Some entries in that list may be familiar, but one type that might not be as obvious is our live coverage story forms, which encompass a range of events like breaking news or time-boxed events like the Oscars and Super Bowl. Both newsrooms and readers need live coverage efforts to keep evolving, so our related story forms have become a product largely developed within the newsroom itself.

We are fortunate to have a number of developers working in our newsroom, as well as many journalists with significant digital skills and reporting perspectives. Collaborations between these groups has driven the evolution of our live coverage story forms across multiple generations of approaches (as we tend to call them).

Within each generation (at least six we can recall), we were able to address some of live coverage’s significant challenges by adopting new web technologies as we built increasingly complex reader experiences. Those efforts provided some great lessons about our readership, reporting and scaling to handle unique traffic surges. Our technical explorations have included early adoption of mobile-first design/development, websockets for data communication, nascent React-based integrations and bleeding-edge browser capabilities.

In August 2017, newsroom technologists Tiff Fehr, Ham Boardman and Alastair Coote (and NYT alum, now at The Guardian) led a session about this live-coverage landscape at SRCCON. SRCCON is a small, highly collaborative conference organized by OpenNews, a grant-funded project that helps newsrooms participate in open journalism efforts.

We wrote up our session and its robust discussion points for OpenNews’ Source. Read the full thing at OpenNews’ Source: https://source.opennews.org/articles/live-coverage/

Tiff Fehr is a assistant editor and lead developer with the Interactive News team. Previously she worked at msnbc.com (now NBCNews.com) and various Seattle-area mediocre startups.


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