Two phonecalls, four coffees, four laptops, a camera and a mobile phone. This is all it took from an initial idea on Tuesday to liveblogging the election on Thursday.
Having an initial idea on blogging the election I contacted the Preston Council press office and a few friends and got together on a battle plan.
We’d be covering it for Blog Preston, a local blog site which is aiming to move into hyperlocal news territory. Dave Stubbings would be our photographer. Joseph Stashko would be our “colour commentator” and mobile media recorder. Andy Halls would be updating a WordPress blog and I’d be charged with monitoring the CoverItLive liveblogging platform we were using.
We didn’t know what to expect. Would there be WiFi? Would we actually have anything to cover? Are there too many or too few of us? It turned out we got the balance just right.
I can’t emphasise enough how important the balance of the team was with each member working to their strengths. I was very impressed with the CoverItLive platform (despite the site crashing 30 minutes before we were due to blog!). We were able to pull in peoples’ tweets and comments using the #Preston10 hashtag, embed audio and video which we’d recorded on Joseph’s phone and have a running ticker of results.
Using Joseph’s Android phone the HTC Legend and the apps Qik and Audioboo we were able to instantly record and upload interviews with the candidates live from the count room at Preston Guild Hall. The BBC were represented there, the Lancashire Evening Post too but it was us that got the results and interviews out there first. Not five minutes after Mark Hendrick’s re-election was announced I was interviewing him and the video was instantly uploaded to Qik and embedded on our liveblog.
It was the Lancashire Evening Post that failed the most covering the election. Their poor correspondent was left twiddling her thumbs for most of the night only to have to desperately file copy at 5.30am for the morning’s paper. Why didn’t they employ someone to liveblog the event and drive traffic to their site? It required very little technical know-how to get the system up and ruinning. Their loss, our gain.
Finally credit must be given to Preston City Council as they tweeted and used facebook to update people with from the counting hall. We got them to use the #Preston10 hashtag and were able to pull their tweets into our coverage. Very slick.