Real-time reporting is a lovely, crazy beast: in addition to worrying about the scandal that just broke, you need to ensure that your reporter’s copy is flawless, your photographer’s pics are properly cropped and your entire team is working as efficiently as possible.
And if anyone knows just how crazy it can get, it’s the members of the Rock Content digital journalism department! In fact, we’re constantly trying to think of ways to make real-time storytelling easier for our clients. Sometimes we accomplish this by asking our team of developers to create new features for the platform; other times, we need to think outside of the box. To this end, we often make use of an idea called a ‘raw feed’.
At its most basic, a raw feed is a dummy event that you can dump posts into without them being published for your readers to see. You can fiddle, tweak and perfect the content before pulling it out of the raw feed and into a live event on your website. You can create one to act as an editorial safety net, edit posts before they go live, pre-package posts that can easily be pulled in and customize coverage you’re picking up from syndication.
Because raw feeds are incredibly helpful and often used, we’ve developed some instructions and scenarios on how they can be incorporated into your coverage. The information below is nowhere near exhaustive but meant to give you an idea of the power of this technique.
If you’d like to learn more, take our advanced ScribbleU course. And if you’ve used raw feeds in an new and innovative way not showcased here, let us know!
Getting yourself ready:
1. Create an event (let’s call it “Raw Feed”) and don’t connect it to a white label or embed the iframe on your site. This way, your viewers can’t see it but your reporters can file to it.
2. You can now upload raw content to this event via the desktop, the app or an email address
3. Create an event that your audience is going to see (let’s call it “Live Event”)
4. When you’re running your Live Event, you can access your Raw Feed by clicking on the ‘S’ icon on the right side and then choosing Raw Feed from the live events drop-down menu. From here, you can drag and drop any polished, pre-packaged post into your live event. **If you drag an image to the post box, please ensure that the grayed-out box where you drop it says ‘Top.’ You have the option to drag and drop an image to the centre but also to the right or left, in which case the size of the image shrinks down automatically.**
5. Now editors can also format posts ahead of time by creating an Article, pulling in content from the Raw Feed and then connecting it to the Live Event.
(For more visual learners, there’s an instructional video below)
Types of raw feeds
Reporting raw feeds: Have reporters and photographers send in all content to a raw feed that your editors can copy edit, format and load into your live event when deemed appropriate. This can help your newsroom craft a meaningful narrative of a live event, rather than having reporters, photographers and editors duplicating one another’s efforts.
Social raw feeds: Auto-follow multiple hashtags, Twitter handles, Flickr accounts and Facebook keywords, have them flow into a raw feed and then select from the most appropriate ones from this list for your front-facing event.
Syndication feeds: If you’re picking up a syndicated event from another property, have it go directly into a raw feed and customize it specifically for your viewers by selecting only the most relevant posts and adding your own spin.
Here are a few scenarios in which raw feeds might be useful for your coverage:
Reporting live from the courtroom is a relatively new practice and is not yet allowed everywhere (i.e. know the rules surrounding live updates/tweeting from court. If they’re unclear, ask the judge). That said, many newsrooms are still tentative about providing real-time updates about legal proceedings—and with good reason. Court reporting demands that your reporters get things right when they post to your event. To ensure this, add an extra layer of editorial support by getting them to load their updates into a raw feed, where an editor in the newsroom can approve them before going live to your readers. (For more info, take the court reporting ScribbleU course)
The best way to cover an award show is to be prepared and create as much content beforehand as possible. To this end, you can create a raw feed that contains bios of every candidate for each award of the night and when the winner is announced, simply pull in the appropriate post. (For more info, take the arts and entertainment ScribbleU course)
Everyone loves to give their opinion! Create a slew of polls in a raw feed and pull them in when you want to encourage audience participation. This can be especially useful for a second-screen experience—during a commercial break, ask your readers about the program they’re watching and get their real-time feedback.
Crossing language barriers
You may want to pull in syndicated coverage that may be in a language different than that which your audience speaks. Syndicate the incoming coverage into a raw feed and then pull out the rich, expressive media posts that require no translation.
For product launches, press conferences or any type of branded presentation, pre-package the important details in a raw feed: product specs, presenters’ bios, infographics, backgrounders, polls or any content that will enrich your readers’ experience. This means you’re prepared to share every nugget of useful info in real-time as the announcement unfolds and media, brand ambassadors and your audience will be equipped to share every accurate detail of your announcement.
In the classroom
You’ve just led your students through their first liveblog and it was a riveting success! Now, you want them to create summaries of what they consider to be the highlights of the event but you want to ensure that readers can’t access this. Create an Article from the live event and post into a raw feed that only you and your students can see.