Designing live journalism for digital and in-person audiences
Parts of the world are cautiously reopening, so publishers have been debating the merits of in-person versus online versus “hybrid” events. At ONA21, experts from The Wall Street Journal shared their best practices for making live journalism sing, whether for in-person or online audiences (session recording and full transcript available):
Build “classrooms.” The team at the Journal created a format—the “classroom”—in which a small number of attendees would pay a premium to access and participate in a session, while many more could pay to passively stream. In one such session, chef Rodney Scott made a fried catfish and tomato salmon salad for a small group. These attendees were told to buy catfish and tomatoes in advance so the chef could walk them through the cooking process virtually, while everyone else watched.
Take advantage of streaming and drive-ins. Drive-ins, if available, can be an ideal venue for events with both in-person and online elements. The Journal partnered with the Skyline outdoor drive-in movie theater in Brooklyn. They hosted a conversation with the writers of Judas and the Black Messiah that could be streamed, but kept the screening of the film itself as an exclusive in-person event.
Video questions. Audience engagement keeps panels from feeling stale, and audience members asking questions in several formats is even better. For town halls, the team asked audience members to submit questions in multiple ways: They could send in written questions in advance, write in the chat, or log into a platform and submit a video question using a tool that automatically branded the contribution with the festival logo and made it fit production values. This approach created a sense of novelty during the question-and-answer portions. Similarly, careful use of video interstitials can break up the monotony.
Dig deeper: Master the Moment: Maximized Video Storytelling for a Remote, Digital World (ONA21, 50-minute video)
- Experts: Rakesh Agrawal, John Battelle
- Takeaway: The power of high-quality journalism using video techniques is still mostly relegated to traditional cable news, but so much more is possible.
ICYMI: ONA is among the journalism organizations planning a return to in-person events in the next few months. We’re gathering the community for the ONA Insights conference Oct. 14–15 in Philadelphia. Read on for the best opportunity to contribute to the programming.
We’re always on the lookout for helpful resources and tips. If you have other examples—ideas, best practices, or recent lessons for live journalism—to share, please reply directly to this email.