Staff at Suburban Life Publications, which covers more than two dozen towns in the Chicago suburbs, rallied for coverage of the NATO summit during the weekend.
The summit attracted thousands of protestors and crippled transit throughout the area.
WHAT THEY DID: Knowing the summit and the protests would be visual, the group decided to take a web-based, multimedia approach to its coverage. Throughout the weekend, photographers and reporters posted six photo galleries and eight videos, to complement four full-length stories and multiple web updates.
Before setting out, the editors planned a detailed story budget and assigned specific tasks and publication times to staff members, so coverage was spread out evenly. Editor Amber Krosel was the point-person and directed the coverage. Staff photographer Erica Benson and Reporter Lloyd Nelson provided the coverage.
To differentiate coverage from their competitors, the Chicago group focused on community-oriented stories – like one about the leader of Macedonia visiting a suburban church. Staff also interviewed local protestors on camera.
Staff looked for unique video opportunities as well. While they did have a video of the protestors, like most of news organizations crowing into Chicago to cover the summit, Suburban Life staff also shot a video of NATO-sponsored kite flying.
A crucial part of the group's coverage included keeping readers up to date on road closures and other travel nightmares – coverage that continued as the summit winded down Monday.
THE TAKEAWAY: Having a plan of action before embarking on intense coverage is key, especially when involving multiple members of a newsroom. Balancing written word with lots of multimedia creates a comprehensive package for readers.
When it’s a big event, with lots of media competition, focusing on local angles and unique story, video and photo ideas will differentiate your coverage.