Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s visit to Salem on Tuesday gave our newsroom a good opportunity to expand how we use social media tools in our reporting.
Six staffers attended the Romney event at Carter Machinery, each armed with a smart phone and, thanks to recent training sessions from online editors Stephanie Ogilvie and Caitlin Saniga, ready to use Twitter to post updates and photos from the scene. Editors behind the scenes in our downtown Roanoke newsroom worked efficiently to pull tweeted images into Storify and continuously posted updates on roanoke.com.
There were some 200 tweets about the event beginning in the minutes after Romney took the stage. There were many tweets before he appeared too.
Roanoke Times’ staffers snapped and tweeted about 20 photos that were added first to Storify and later to a photo gallery.
Editor Carole Tarrant said today’s coverage was “a new record of getting that many photos on the site that quickly.”
Photography editor Natalee Waters managed the Storify feed of Roanoke Times photos fed to her from Salem, while Stephanie Ogilvie updated the Website with breaking news posts and other information. Thanks to NRV editor Todd Jackson for suggesting Storify during Monday’s planning session.
The staffers on the scene in Salem were:
- Emily Mosh, a summer intern from Washington & Lee University, live tweeted the play-by-play on the @RkeTimesLive account.
- City hall and politics reporter Mason Adams wrote a quick speech overview for the Web site and the turned his attention to a write-through for tomorrow’s print edition.
- Salem reporter Matt Chittum also wrote a scene-setting story about the crowd of more than 1,500 people gathered that was posted online in the late afternoon.
- Photojournalists Rebecca Barnett and Kyle Green captured visuals, tweeted and transmitted images to the newsroom.
- Community journalist Miranda Beck also covered the event for So Salem blog.
Roanoke Times staff decided Monday to use the hashtag #romneysalem on Twitter.
“It worked,” Tarrant said.
Today’s approach was noticeably different than 2008 when the Roanoke Times covered then vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s visit to the Roanoke Valley. Two reporters and two photojournalists staffed that event, with one pair at the Roanoke Regional Airport and the other at the Salem Civic Center where Palin spoke.
What do you think of today’s coverage of Romney’s visit? We want to hear from you.
– Courtney Cutright, reporter and member of the RefreshRT team