Updated February 23 at 11:56am
2/10/10 04:17PM

Wlne/abc6 provides innovative approach to weather coverage

(Providence-RI) WLNE-TV/ABC6 in Providence has taken an innovative approach to covering the winter storm pounding the east coast while avoiding the expenses traditionally associated with extensive …

(Providence-RI) WLNE-TV/ABC6 in Providence has taken an innovative approach to covering the winter storm pounding the east coast while avoiding the expenses traditionally associated with extensive weather coverage. The Global-owned ABC affiliate used a live newsroom camera, iPhones and social media tools and streamed 5 ½ hours of live storm coverage on the station’s website (ABC6.com). The coverage featured newsroom employees with a live camera covering meetings, conversations, and updates from meteorologists, while other staffers feed live video from the field via cell phone.

“It’s an experiment. Our goal is not necessarily to put on a “show”, but rather to provide a constant stream of live content without having to expend the resources traditionally associated with storm coverage on television,” said Steve Doerr WLNE-TV/ ABC6 Vice President and General Manager. “While we usually had someone narrating the action, a lot of what we streamed was the casual but vital interaction of the people on our news team as they built our coverage over the course of the day. The whole editorial process was streamed live in real time. It was reality programming at its best”.

“It’s an exercise in the power of social media tools in the hands of traditional media journalists. We promoted this event entirely through Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and our web sites. After the morning news meeting, we all signed onto our personal social media accounts and notified our “friends” and connections of the web event, and asked them to spread the word virally. We got hundreds of hits,” Doerr explained. “We were able to offer hours of live, real time coverage of a breaking news event without so much as a dollar of incremental expense. That is a very important part of this.”

The content is set against the backdrop of a live streaming feed from the newsroom, with input from hundreds of online users chatting, uploading pictures and videos and providing the station with live weather reports from throughout Southern New England.

News Director BJ Finnell offered running commentary on the planning, the production and fast paced action going as it happened in the newsroom. With a camera on his shoulder, Finnell provided an intimate view while the producers, reporters and meteorologists planned the coverage.

On the stations broadcast platform, staff members with iPhones sent live video into a server as they traveled around the market. These live phone feeds were used to supplement what the stations traditional ENG crews were doing with no additional expense.

“It didn’t always work perfectly. There were times when we had audio or video problems, but we were able to correct them quickly,” according to Doerr. “Like a lot of stations in markets our size, we’re not exactly swimming in resources or equipment. We do have terrific technicians, and were able to do all this fairly easily. “

In addition to this streaming media experiment, WLNE-TV/ABC6 in preparation for this storm launched its latest hyper-local web site, http://transportation.abc6.com. The site offers the latest information on road conditions, bus, air and rail services. “We developed the site to provide Southern New Englanders one source for up to the minute transportation information and road conditions. Now travelers can make informed decisions with one simple click, before they head out,” stated Melissa Manfre, Director of Digital Media.

Global Broadcasting of Southern New England is a Delaware corporation that specializes in broadcast property acquisition. Global Broadcasting LLC owns and operates WLNE ABC6 (http://www.abc6.com) in Providence. Additional information is available at www.abc6.com.

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