Anatomy of a web story

Online news has become the 21st-century wire service.

It can take on the speed and succinctness of radio, the depth and length of printed news, the impact and vividness of television, and combine it with the connectivity and interactivity of the Internet.

For their growing accessibility and potential as cash cows, news websites are increasingly becoming an output of “integrated” newsrooms known for traditional media.

ABS-CBN’s TV reporters are encouraged to think and work multi-platform. That means aside from Tagalog pieces for Channel 2’s TV Patrol, they file English reports for ANC and ABS-CBNnews.com, one of the Philippines’ first news sites.

The advisories reporters send to the news desk are incorporated to the website’s breaking stories. Or if they come out with fairly-written English pieces, they land full on the site.

When requirements on the field allowed, I’ve tried contributing too.

Often they are pictures taken with my Nokia 6730, like Noli De Castro’s last Araw ng Kagitingan in Bataan, the bombing of a judge’s car in Rizal, the search for bodies lost in a flooded abandoned building in Manila, and these 2:

On assignment in Lanao del Sur, I sent in my first News.com story. (Read the backstory here.)

A virtually humdrum traffic assignment at the Mendiola bridge on June 24 turned out another.

The news desk told us to expect a 10 a.m. rally commemorating the Maguindanao massacre. No reporter or cameraman was coming, so could my team gather footage and details then send it back?

Sure. But something other than activist activity happened.

The colleges at Mendiola were inaugurating the recently-built gate by the bridge. A quick check online yielded a story on the last Bandila of groups crying foul over the gate.

While my teammates shot, I took mental notes and captured snippets with my Nokia 6300.

Sizing up the story, I figured 2 or 3 interviews could answer specific questions, all with a focus–what this “Mendiola Peace Arch” meant for students and rallyists.

We got SOTs (sound-on-tape, aka soundbites) from the organizer, a school official, and Manila Mayor Fred Lim himself.

Their statements, with a few background notes, formed the advisory e-mailed to the desk, and posted on dot-com.

(Click to read)

To beat the deadline to release the story first, you write it out in your mind even before hitting the keyboard.

We were diverted from another traffic duty a week later. This time, we pinch-hit for the team covering the change of guard at the Department of Justice.

The program was routine: mass, speeches, and the symbolic flag turnover. Any story from the event would likely highlight the speeches of Justice Secretaries Leila de Lima or Alberto Agra.

I proceeded jotting them down on my pad with a pen that lost ink midway and flowed again near its end.

Consulted them after for the biggest points and the most quotable lines. Thought up a good lead during a quick lunch. Typed it all back at the van with Googled background. Checked the quotes with our video. Loaded and edited my own shots. Then sent it all via e-mail.

I had to be through before we fed the video material using the same laptop. It was up on ABS-CBNnews.com in an hour.

Comparing my story with those by GMAnews.tv and by Inquirer.net, I was pleased to discover different takes of one event. One soaked in background, while another focused on the DOJ. And I realized that some words they used never crossed my mind when writing mine.

Shows how online news also provides the puzzle pieces to history in a hurry.

(Click to read)

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4 comments on “Anatomy of a web story

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