Kind of a cool thing happened a few weeks ago.
We found out the Appeal-Democrat was going to be featured in Editor & Publisher’s annual “10 Newspapers That Do It Right” feature, which recognizes newspapers that are doing particularly innovative work.
Even cooler is that several of the features E&P gave us the award for were projects I was a part of. So I’ll pull the excerpts from the E&P article and explain in detail what I do that’s a part of these projects.
The paper teamed up with two chambers of commerce to produce nearly a dozen political forums during the primary and general elections last year. Employees, including the editor, lugged the necessary equipment to various locations so they could do live webcasts and live blogging.
Yeah, lugging that equipment around was a pain, trust me. The origin of these political forums was the general demise of all local programming in the Yuba-Sutter area by Comcast. Before, there would be televised candidate forums on good ol’ local Channel 19. Well, Channel 19 is basically no more now, so that left a hole in who would produce it. Well, it wound up being us.
My part in this, besides being one of the many equipment haulers, was the liveblogging section of the webcast. I managed the CoverItLive liveblogs. I would create poll questions to pose for those watching the livestream, relay suggested questions for the moderators from the online audience, and moderate the user discussion going on.
It was definitely warmer inside the Yuba County Government Center than when I was liveblogging the section title football game a couple of years ago.
Last September, the newspaper began using QR codes, two-dimensional bar-type codes that enable smartphone users to link content, enter online contests and view photos.
Ah, QR codes. Fascinating things. I’ll admit, I was a little cold to their use at the beginning, at least on the news side. I thought they would have more use on the advertising side.
But I’m a convert. I now see QR codes as being probably the best possible way to blend a print publication with an online counterpart. There are those who still prefer a print newspaper over reading it on a computer or on their smartphone or tablet (I don’t know how many, I just know they exist). But now, if those same people have a smartphone, they can now get the whole interactive experience. Say a reader wants to watch a video, but doesn’t feel like firing up the computer to do it. Well, now if they have an iPhone, Blackberry, or any smartphone that runs Android, they can use a scanner app (there’s several free ones), one quick scan and they’re watching our video on their phone.
I think publications intended for readers on the move, such as business journals or free music publications, could find even more benefit from QR codes than we have.
In the sports department, we use a lot of QR codes, since we produce a lot of video and the photographers do a lot of game slideshows (Photography is a major traffic driver at ADVaristySports.com). Every video and slideshow is given a QR code in print. We link to our weekly podcast with a QR code, and we have a standing QR code linking to our blog The Press Box, that can go in whenever the situation calls for it.
It’s my job to obtain the QR codes. We get unique QR codes for every new video or slideshow, through a vendor named interlinkONE. I then download the QR code graphic, run it through Photoshop to give it the proper specifications to make it play nice with our pagination software, and it’s ready for the newspage.
It’s pretty cool to have been a part of something that results in this kind of recognition. I’m thinking it won’t be the last time in my life something like this happens.