The Register-Mail’s coverage of a massive fire in its hometown of Galesburg, Ill., is a strong example of reporting and disseminating news across all platforms.
The staff informed its readers from the start as fire engulfed and destroyed a former manufacturing complex at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday in near downtown Galesburg. The fire burned for more than two hours, but the coverage continued through the next 48 hours for The Register-Mail.
WHAT THEY DID: The entire front page of Wednesday’s edition focused on the fire. Four inside pages also contained coverage of the blaze, including a photo spread on the back of the section. Before the edition ever hit the streets, however, the community was well-informed through R-M updates on the Web, microblogs through Twitter and updates, photos and video on Facebook. Beyond staff coverage, the R-M asked for reader-submitted photos and video.
"We had two photographers and two reporters at the scene, who were reporting back to my editors, one compiling information and one posting everything coming in to the website, Facebook and Twitter," R-M executive editor Tom Martin said.
By Thursday morning, the community had complete coverage of the fire through stories, columns, second-day follows, 30 reader-submitted photos, 70 staffed-produced online images and numerous social media updates.
"We doubled our pageviews (89,607) and picked up 40 Facebook fans," Martin said. "This is a good staff that rose to the challenge of covering a big fire."
THE TAKEAWAY: It takes everyone on a staff to offer coverage of this magnitude. It also helps to involve the community. Coverage plans, however, often can slip into a print mode of thinking during the heat of the moment, so take the time to create an action plan before breaking news hits.
Then, when a disaster strikes, your staff is ready to supply news on all platforms. Just like the Register-Mail.