BROOM: More than a paper
The Cavalier Daily’s use of social and mobile media makes for effective reporting
This week, by reading just about everything The Cavalier Daily had to offer, I found that I sometimes learn more from the staff’s Twitter feeds than I do from the website or news magazine. The digital-first initiative was never intended only to include a website, as I understand it. The digital platform doesn’t only offer the editorial board, writers and photographers a way to publish their work more quickly throughout the day; it also offers an opportunity for more interaction with readers.
A good example of this interaction is Greg Lewis’ Twitter feed during the AccessUVa student protest outside the Board of Visitors meeting this past week. Lewis is The Cavalier Daily’s social media manager, so perhaps it should come as no surprise that he is an effective communicator on Twitter. His live-tweeting from the protest,” including a photo of former Rector Helen Dragas listening to the speakers at the event, proved informative and offered texture one doesn’t often find in a traditional news story. This is also the sort of thing I think The Cavalier Daily can do that other news outlets likely cannot do as well: have immediate access to such events and offer an on-the-ground view to readers. Lastly, Lewis’ tweets weren’t static. He interacted with followers on Twitter, responding to comments and engaging in discussion. This is a dimension of coverage and interaction that can really set the Cavalier Daily apart and one that I found intriguing and valuable.
At about the same time that Lewis was tweeting from the student protest over AccessUVa cuts outside the Rotunda, Assistant Managing Editor Matthew Comey was in the Board of Visitors meeting and also tweeting in real time. These tweets were somewhat more dry than Lewis’ — largely, I think, because a BOV meeting is quite a lot dryer most of the time than a student protest, but they were also informative. The combination of real-time tweets from both inside and outside the Rotunda was fascinating to me and is something I think readers can and should look for as a part of the digital first initiative here.
There is a Twitter feed section on the Cavalier Daily home page online. Personally, I’d like to see that given a more prominent placement and more emphasis. In the time between when articles are published, the Twitter feed is one of the best places to find out what’s going on at the University in real time. It also offers a way to interact with the news stories and the people covering them. The comments section on the various articles online don’t seem to generate much in the way of ongoing interaction. Perhaps Twitter can.
There are also, I discovered, several longer videos on the Cavalier Daily site — including an in-depth look at Living Wage U.Va. and a video of the BOV meeting. Even though I’m charged with looking at everything the Cavalier Daily is doing, I hadn’t really paid much attention to the videos online. They’re worth viewing.
The Cavalier Daily also launched its new mobile app this week. It is, as you’d expect from a newly launched mobile app these days, slick but not without a few bugs. I expect those will be smoothed out in the coming weeks. It is also an important step in moving The Cavalier Daily forward in a digital sense. I teach on Grounds and I cannot tell you the last time I saw a student carrying a physical newspaper of any sort. But virtually every person at U.Va., regardless of role, has a smartphone and/or a tablet of some sort. I urge readers to download the app.
Christopher Broom is The Cavalier Daily’s public editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @CDPublicEditor.