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March 12, 2009, 8:17 a.m.

Baltimore Sun takes its readers behind the curtain with streamed news meetings

The sound is barely adequate. The cinematography is basic. But the new daily show coming out of Baltimore should be of interest to anyone who cares about journalism.

About two weeks ago, The Baltimore Sun (disclaimer: I used to work there) began live-streaming its Monday-Friday daily news meeting, at 3 p.m. EDT. It’s been described as experimental by some of the people involved, meaning it may or may not be there for the long haul. But for now, a link to the stream appears on the site’s home page just as the meeting is starting, or you can get there ahead of time at the direct link, baltimoresun.com/pageone.

Traffic to the stream is most charitably described as “small, but growing” at the moment (perhaps due to little promotion outside of Twitter and Facebook), but for those who do watch — especially those who haven’t been able to attend or participate in an actual news meeting — the visit can be eye-opening. They’ll learn how such meetings can be simultaneously rote — as section editors rattle off slugs and brief descriptions of what they’re offering for Page One — and engaging, as, for example yesterday, the editors discussed whether tips about a local movie theater’s possible foreclosure were true (they were), or the online editor explained to the rest of the staff which stories were actually being read that day, and how much.

Opening the process to public eyes has its risks of course, not the least of which is competitors tuning in for tips (I assume enterprise will be discussed with circumspection, if at all, while the camera is on), but it seems to me that the upside is even greater, as readers discover that the “Ivory Tower” they’d disdained or dark conspiracy they’d suspected was, in actuality, a room full of mostly smart people trying to get at the truth. It’s also a model for how to get through a packed meeting in 20 minutes or less.

Once they fix the sound (more microphones please) and the video (try the camera off the tripod, or at least use the zoom occasionally), The Sun just might have a hit on its hands.

***

Elsewhere:

Liverpool Daily Post daily editorial meeting

Spokane Spokesman-Review daily editorial webcasts are promoted on the site, but according to this page are “discontinued for now”

Any others out there?  What do you think — is live-streaming the news meeting a good idea?

POSTED     March 12, 2009, 8:17 a.m.
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