The Olympic sport of biathlon combines the skills of cross-country skiing with rifle shooting.
Thus, relatively speaking, it didn’t seem quite so bizarre when we decided to combine a features producer, a community engagement manager, our world news channel manager and four sports staffers into a 24/7 desk to produce Olympics content for 11 channels to 70-plus DFM sites over 17 days.
That eclectic group is February’s winner of Thunderdome’s cross-team collaboration award. (Last month’s award went to “Kitchen Pop.“)
In his nomination, sports producer Matt Walks noted that the team produced about 500 pieces of content during the games and maintained an always-active liveblog. The team worked directly with reporters in Russia, which Matt said “helped increase awareness and understanding of Thunderdome throughout our realm.”
Sports borrowed Kelly Metz from Features and Chris March from our engagement desk to steer the liveblog on weekdays, and they kept readers abreast of the action in Sochi during the busiest part of the day, which coincided with our peak traffic period. The ScribbleLive blog racked up 1.6 million engagement minutes during the Olympics.
Chris Hopkins brought his experienced editing eye from the news desk over to sports, where he teamed with Matt Walks, Jeremy Binckes, Ross Maghielse and Johannes Neukamm to showcase the work of reporters and photographers from the Denver Post, the San Jose Mercury News, the Salt Lake Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
The team beat out a tough field of cross-team collaboration nominees, which included:
- Kim Bui and Amber Phillips for their State of the Union coverage (nominated by Ryan Beckwith).
- Jeremy Binckes, Meena Thiruvengadam, Brooke Howard, Angi Carter, Nelson Hsu, Vaughn Hagerty, Tom Meagher, Courtney Wells and Laura Li for their work on Super Bowl ad factory (nominated by Jeremy Binckes and Jillian Sederholm).
- Meena Thiruvengadam for helping out sports during the Super Bowl; nominator Dan Lewis said Meena “wasn’t afraid to come over and ask me to help try to find a story for the sports desk.”
- The team that worked on Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death. Nominator Dan Lewis said “John Hendrickson, Meg Wagner, Jillian Sederholm and Julie Westfall did a great job on covering (it) … John went out and was the man on Tout coverage, while the news team was on top of Spundge updates.”
- John Hendrickson, David Freid, Sarah Glen and Yvonne Leow as the team behind the Jimmy Fallon slow jam video, nominated by Matt Grisafi, who called it a “brilliant idea culminated by Fallon tweeting it himself.”
- Bianca Prieto, Jason Fields, David Freid, Nelson Hsu, Courtney Wells and Yvonne Leow for the Firearms in the Family package, nominated by Yvonne Leow.
Tip of the week
When planning coverage for a big event such as the Olympics that requires coordination of efforts from multiple properties, Too Much Information is a good thing. In short, overshare.
In preparing for the Olympics, we organized weekly phone calls with top editors to keep them abreast of development plans and to seek their input on coverage approaches. These phone calls were followed up by e-mail recaps, and those recaps were stored in a Google doc accessible to all. Why the redundancies?
- Carpet-bombing technique catches editors who couldn’t make a call or may have been distracted during a call.
- Digital record helps clarify any confusing points, establishes a record of conversation and followup plans.
- Reinforcement makes it easier to recall key coverage points and keep everybody on track, resulting in less time being devoted to retracing old ground.