Frank Otto and Steve Moore of The Mercury won the 2014 Use of Social Media DFMie for their late-night curation of social media from the manhunt for Boston Marathon bombing suspects.
The nomination explains:
Sometimes a national story becomes an important local story because everyone is talking about it. And when two reporters stay up all night curating coverage, it personalizes that coverage for our readers.
The brief nomination included a link to Editor Nancy March’s blog post, which offered further explanation. The two journalists separately noticed late-night coverage of the unfolding events and quickly started coordinating:
“Frank and I decided on what to tweet and retweet,” said Moore. “The Boston Globe and The Associated Press are trusted sources; anything else, use caution. We’re not trying to break anything,” Moore said. “We just thought, ‘Hey maybe if somebody wakes up and has no idea what happened, at least they will know what’s going on.”
From 1:30 to 4:30 a.m., Moore updated the top story on The Mercury website six or seven times. The final version at 4:38 a.m. reported that one of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings was dead after a police shootout and the second was on the run, a massive manhunt under way.
During the same time frame and continuing until about 7:30 a.m., Otto posted @MercuryX, unfolding the story for our readers from news accounts, the police scanner, and other reporting sources.
“It kinda rolls out like a mosaic — you have to sort through it all, and you need context,” Otto said.
Responsibility and accuracy are critical.
“I stayed away from specific addresses or anything that might hurt what was going on,” Otto said.
Both Otto and Moore were careful to avoid rumor and unattributed information. “We’re all about confirming,” Otto said. He sought out known reliable sources, including a reporter on the scene for Digital First Media, The Mercury’s parent company.
Mercury staffers Frank Otto and Steve Moore did an excellent job of triangulating on huge amounts of information while also paying careful attention to accurate sourcing. Otto and Moore did a nice job of dividing the work of managing three different digital platforms while breaking news unfolded. Most impressive is the independent initiative both took during off hours and without an assigning editor.
This is one of two DFMies for The Mercury and one of seven for the Pennsylvania newsrooms.
About Frank Otto
Otto is a general assignment reporter with The Mercury. He works four beats and occasionally moonlights with the sports department.
Entering his third year with the Mercury, he started out as an intern with the Delaware County Daily Times after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011.
About Steve Moore
Moore is the News/Sunday Editor of The Mercury, in Pottstown, Pa. He took that position in the fall of 2013, but has been at The Mercury since 2009, serving as a sports reporter, copyeditor, and assistant sports editor.
Before The Mercury, he worked as a sports reporter and copyeditor in another DFM newsroom, The Daily Local News in West Chester, Pa., as well as the Williamsport Sun-Gazette (Pa.).
Moore, who grew up in the Philadelphia area, graduated with a journalism degree from Boston University’s College of Communication in 2005, where he covered sports and served as editor in chief of the student newspaper, The Daily Free Press.
In addition to his work at The Mercury, he writes about soccer for the popular Philadelphia sports site, The700Level.com.
He lives in Conshohocken, Pa., with his wife of six years, Andrea, as well as his 2-year-old son Cameron, and daughter, Sarah, born Wednesday.
Other finalists for use of social media were:
- Andrea Gillhoolley of the Lebanon Daily News for her coverage of a flood.
- The Los Angeles News Group for its graduation coverage.