Case Study of LSC-TV’s Town Meeting Day
The Gannett Social Media Breaking News Playbook is an extremely useful set of guidelines usable by any news station. This Playbook shows how a station should use social media in the event of breaking news. I’ve only read these guidelines recently, but I can truly see the potential they have. So with that it mind, I’d like to put my college’s news station to the test. I will be conduction a case study on LSC-TV’s coverage of Town Meeting Day. This is a time where quite a bit of breaking news would happen around the area, and social media would be the best way to inform the public.
What’s convenient about LSC-TV’s coverage of Town Meeting Day is that there is a reporter on every town, meaning no other news stations need to be contacted to confirm any reports. I will be going through each part of the checklist and matching it with how LSC-TV dealt with the same issue. With that in mind, let’s begin.
First Five for Reporters:
The first rule is to, as soon as possible, Tweet or Facebook a breaking story. News 7 went through this pretty well. Information on the big issues of towns were posted on both Facebook and Twitter. It’s important to also apply relevant hashtags, which is what is done in the post below.
The second rule is to, upon arrival at the scene, immediately Tweet/FB photos and/or short video. Not all the reporters did this. In fact, I think only one did.
The third rule is to send photos or story information to the newsroom. Again, this was only done partially. The reporter at Newbury and Bradford sent pictures of the meetings but that was the extent of it. The only other time pictures would be sent it is to accompany a piece of news.
The next rule is to ask sources on social networks to confirm information, but since there are reporters at all the stories this isn’t something that had to be worried about. The final rule is to post updates on Facebook and Twitter as new details emerge, which is essentially what was shown earlier. Any time there was an update it would be messaged out in one form or another.
First Five for Social Media Managers and Newsroom Managers
The first rule is to send breaking news alerts via text and email. Text and email alerts aren’t particularly utilized other than for communication within News 7. The public generally finds out breaking news first through social media. The second rule is to turn off any scheduled/automatic posts and to be aware to pull inappropriate ad campaigns, neither of which relate to News 7. None of the posts on social media are scheduled or automatic, and the only ads played during the show are PSAs. The third rule is to retweet reporters and photographers on the scene, which is what was done by the social media manager.
The next rule is to post updates on Twitter with the hashtag #breakingnews. None of the posts that day included the hashtag, on Twitter or Facebook. By doing this, there is the possibility of gaining more coverage. The final rule, again, is asking other sources to confirm information, which does not apply to News 7.
Report the News
The first rule is to tweet every 5–15 minutes with updates. For Town Meeting Day, this isn’t really something that should be followed, since all that matters is the results of the voting. The next rule is to mention relevant Twitter profiles in posts, which was done in the format below.
Next, the guidelines recommend sending regular updates to followers on Facebook. If “regular updates” means the status of each towns voting, then this rule was followed. The next rule is to post stories on the Facebook pages or accounts of those affected or care about the story, which I do not believe was followed. Posts on Facebook usually just go directly on the page. The last rule is to post videos of reporters on the scene. A picture from earlier showcased this.
Curate the News
According to the Playbook, it is important to create or determine a relevant Twitter hashtag. Take a look at the post above you can see the hashtags #SuperTuesday and #TMDVT, which were used throughout the day. Next, rules recommend asking viewers to submit pictures and video, which doesn’t get posted. Some of the next rules relate to platforms that News 7 doesn’t utilize, such as Geofeedia, Ban.jo, Foursquare, LinkedIn, Rebelmouse, Storify, and Instagram (News 7 now has an Instagram account but it was not created during Town Meeting Day). The last rule relates to Twitter lists of reporters/editors covering breaking news, and community members that are affected by it. While some members at News 7 do have professional Twitter pages, they are not included in any lists, and neither are members of the community.
Tools for your Site
All of the aspects of this section of the Playbook do not appear to be utilized by News 7. The website does not include any polls, live chats, livestreams (of stories, there is a 24/7 livestream of the newsroom), Google Hangouts, blogs, or Google maps. In all honesty, a station like News 7 doesn’t really need to use all of that because of how small it is compared to other news stations. All these features would just remain stagnant with little interaction.
Now for the verdict. Some parts of the Gannett Playbook simply aren’t needed for a situation like Town Meeting Day. There are cases of breaking news in the form of votes, but there isn’t a need to supply a constant flow of pictures or updates from the situation. One big benefit I can say is how every town in the area has a reporter covering it, so there isn’t a need to confirm the details with other sources or news stations. Next, it’s important to say that LSC-TV is a small station. Maybe for a larger station it would be more useful to include more social media platforms and website tools, but it would simply be too much for a station of this size. There is some room for improvement when it comes to breaking news though. It would have been helpful to have a picture from every town for Town Meeting Day, and updates from each town’s voting would have greatly helped. Finally, a small video from each reporter in a town wouldn’t have hurt either. The Gannet Social Media Breaking News Playbook is an extremely useful tool for any news station, but some steps are unnecessary for stations that are small or cover less of an area.