16. Moderating an event discussion

As everyone can bring the news, the journalist’s role becomes more and more about sorting out, verifying and hierarchizing the amount of information constantly available on the web and on social networks : in a word, to be the conductor of the news orchestra.

Live covering tools

Though social networks are a constant source of information, especially when the news are huge, it’s becoming harder and harder to get relevant and trustable news out of them. Various tools can help us with this task :

  • Coveritlive is a chatting platform that allows you to aggregate live discussions between the newsroom and its readers. Advantage : it’s easy to use and is self-updating thanks to web users. Inconvenient : no moderation.
  • Storify is a narrating platform that allows you to aggregate various type of content coming from social networks under one author’s control. Advantage : the journalist chooses the content Storify arranges in order. Inconvenient: it’s not open to web users.

In both case the writing principle is “curating”. In other words it’s about sorting out the amount of data coming from social network to make it into news. Sometimes it’s quite a lot of word, because you also have to verify fishy information. In this case, the help of your reading community is precious. For example, if you need to check whether police officers actually, you can launch a call for testimonies on social networks while you’re fact checking with officials.

Similarly, if you’re covering a political debate on TV, fact checking is incredibly efficient. Every time a politician makes a claim (“Thanks to us the unemployment rate was lowered by 10 points in 5 years”), the newsroom, its experts and web users can check whether it’s true. And say it’s not if it’s the case.

Managing tasks: production, editing and moderation

When using those type of live coverage tools, the newsroom must be perfectly organized. To be fast and efficient, you need to separate between :

  • Production : those who take notes, look for sources, fact check figures and give their go for the information to be published.
  • Editing : those who put in perspective (and online) the information and manage the correction/verification filter after the writes.
  • Moderators : those who answer web users’ messages, sort out information, and prowl social networks looking for interesting trails.

One or various journalists have these tasks assigned to them. They work under an editor-in-chief who coordinates the whole and makes it readable by dividing the homepage in immediately understandable segments.