We created this breaking news guide for our newsroom and thought we’d share it with others. So, here you go:
The news breaks at 2:11 p.m. Dec. 3: Marcus Mariota will stay for his junior season.
How fast can we get the news up? How do we do it? In what order? And who does what tasks?
Breaking news protocol: We’ve established one. Read it now so when news breaks, you’ll understand what to do.
How to apply it to Mariota
The steps from the start.
1. Find and confirm the story
Find it: We heard about it first from a random Facebook post. This one:
Confirm it: Next, we must confirm that it’s true. (NOTE: Very important. You must confirm the report is accurate before you can publish it in any form.) How do we do that? First check Twitter. It’s the fastest source for real-time news like this. Check your feed for credible sources on that topic. In this case, that would be @WinTheDay, @DuckFootball, @jwquick, @rgduckfootball. If you don’t see it there, go to the Twitter search bar and type “Mariota.”
For this story, we quickly found the tweet that led us to GoDucks.com and this story.
We’ve now found the story and confirmed its accuracy with a credible source.
2. Alert your editor: Text your direct editor within 5 seconds. In this case, it would be the sports editor. The sports editor will then take the lead on managing the story, collecting archive photos, preparing social media posts and coordinating with any other desks necessary. Your job: Focus on reporting and writing the story.
3. Write the stub: Open WordPress and start a post. Write the headline. Be sure to use the person’s full name and “Oregon Ducks football” to ensure your story shows up in search engines. (AKA: SEO). Then write one sentence that summarizes the story. Hit PUBLISH and make the the story go live. In this case, here’s a sample of a headline and stub.
Headline: Marcus Mariota, Hroniss Grasu will return next season to Oregon Ducks football team
Stub: Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and center Hroniss Grasu announced today that they will return to the Ducks next season, according to a statement released by the Oregon athletic department.
After you confirm the story, your goal should be to write the headline and stub and hit publish within 90 seconds.
In this case, that’s all you need. Why? Your objective is to own the story on social media to collect all the shares, likes and retweets. That way, all Oregon football fans will first discover your story.
4. Alert your editor so they can push to social: As soon as you hit PUBLISH, send your editor a text to confirm the post is live. Your editor will push out your story on social media within 90 seconds. By now, your editor will have found a photo for the story.
First: Shorten the link on Bit.ly. (NOTE: This needs to be on the Emerald Bit.ly account. If you need more training on that, please ask.) This shortened link becomes the ONLY link we use on social media.
Second: Post on Twitter. The editor should do this. This should happen within 3 minutes of when you first confirm the story. For a story of this size, be sure to post it to @dailyemerald and @odesports. (NOTE: Very important to post the story link. Links help drive engagement. Our tweet on this story without the link drew 3 retweets and 5 favorites. The tweet with the link drew 21 retweets and 14 favorites.)Mariota and Grasu to return in 2014 for the Ducks | Emerald Media (via @Jon_Hawthorne)
Third: Post on Facebook. The editor should do this. This should happen within 4 minutes of confirming the story. Required: Post it with a photo. Photos make the posts bigger in people’s feeds and increases the clicks, links and shares.
Fourth: Post to Instagram. The editor should do this. Take the same photo and post it on the @DailyEmerald Instagram account. This should happen within 5 minutes of confirming the story. In this case, we did not have a photo posted to Instagram.
Recap: By this point, 5 minutes have passed since the you confirmed the story. You’ve done five things:
1. Posted a stub.
2. Create a Bit.ly version of the link.
3. Posted the link to Twitter.
4. Posted the link to Facebook with a photo.
5. Posted the photo to Instagram.
5. Go from stub to story
As your editor is pushing out the story out on social media, the reporter should flesh out the stub into a more complete story. With every paragraph added, hit UPDATE to update the story in real-time. Repeat that step until the story is complete with context, stats and more. Here’s our final version of the story.
The basics are done. Here’s a few other things to consider. One approach: Ask the original writer to continue updating their story and pull in other reporters and editors to brainstorm these next steps.
Follow up reporting: Call sources to see why Mariota decided to stay and what it means to the program. Update your original post.
Write a column: What’s your take on this. Here’s what John Canzano did less than two hours after the story broke.
Follow-ups: What other stories could you spin out of this? A recap of the five best Mariota moments, a column on what it means for Mark Helfrich or a piece on what this means for the back-ups who may have gotten a shot otherwise.
Print: How will you spin this story forward for the next print edition? Think about: What does it all mean for the Oregon program?
Photo galleries: Create a gallery of our best Marcus Mariota photos from the last two years. Post that on our website, then push out that link on social media. Remember: Photo galleries draw huge traffic. Use them to flesh out big stories.
Engage: Talk with readers directly on Twitter and Facebook. Respond to readers comments. Retweet funny or smart comments.
Storify: Collect posts on Twitter, Instagram and elsewhere and publish a collection on our website with Storify. You can find it by searching “Mariota” on those sites.
Curate: Search the web for stories and columns that other people are writing. Easy way to do that is to search Google News for “Marcus Mariota.” Or visit the best writers on the Ducks that you already know about. Write a post that links to all the relevant stories and columns from around the web.