Thunderdome’s 24/7 Olympics desk earns the cross-team gold

Fireworks explode during the Closing Ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Olympics outside of the Bolshoy Ice Dome Sunday February 23, 2014. (Photo by Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune)
Fireworks explode during the Closing Ceremony of the 2014 Sochi Olympics outside of the Bolshoy Ice Dome Sunday February 23, 2014. (Photo by Chris Detrick/The Salt Lake Tribune)

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.

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The winner
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.”

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Russia’s Yulia Lipnitskaya performs for the Team Ladies Short Program at the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi, Russia on Saturday, Feb. 8, 2014. (Nhat V. Meyer/Bay Area News Group)

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 nominees
The team beat out a tough field of cross-team collaboration nominees, which included:

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.
Gary Kicinski

By Gary Kicinski

Over the past 14 years, Gary Kicinski has held the top digital sports position at the nation's two largest newspaper companies.

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