Protests can present a whole range of issues, not least to a hyperlocal news site. But one thing’s for sure, they should be covered, and if done so properly, will hugely benefit your website.
Protests provoke opinion, debate and curiosity – which results in hits.
When my Blog Preston colleagues and I caught wind of news that the English Defence League, and Unite Against Fascism were coming to the city, we knew we had to cover it. After some discussion, we decided to set up a live-blog using Cover It Live, a piece of software we had used before in our election coverage.
As everyone was keen to get into the thick of things and actually report from the protest, we started the blog in the morning, and set it up to pull in tweets with a specific hashtag (#edluaf) and from specific users, so that no-one could ‘hi-jack’ the feed. By setting Cover It Live off in the morning and into ‘auto-pilot’ it allowed us to actually get out and ‘do some journalism’.
The coverage was a roaring success; pulling in our largest audience to date, with the follow-up post going straight into second place in terms of hits. Our Twitter feed was jam-packed with replies and we received plenty of plaudits for our efforts.
But what did we need to achieve this?
The answer: very little. On the day, six contributors assisted with the coverage – including my co-editor Joseph Stashko and I – and all we had equipment-wise was a phone each, three cameras in total, and a handful of dictaphones.
This proved to be more than enough. We were able to delegate certain people to certain areas, while getting some fantastic audio, photographs, and video footage.
Protests often split communities, both in terms of opinion and physically splitting them. On the day of the EDL/UAF protests, Preston city centre was a ghost-town, other than the protestors, journalists covering the event and a handful of curious locals wanting to see what was going on.
But what about those that want to know what’s going on, but don’t want to risk being hit with a firework? Well, that’s where hyperlocals come into their element. We were able to get the key information to the people that needed it, at the push of a button. While traditional media were forced to call their copy in by phone, we were on the scene – providing information, to those who matter as soon as it happened.
Protests may cause division among communities, but hyperlocals bring them back together.
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