Daily Cover it Live Show: Lessons Learned

After close to nine months of doing am:gi, a daily morning “conversation” with our readers, we ended the show a little over a week ago. Why? Because it’s time to take what we’ve learned from it and evolve the concept a little.

There was some pressure from above to do something with the show. Either change it up or kill it. We decided to do both. We could not seem to grow our viewer numbers. We needed big numbers to show advertisers to sell it and with the format of am:gi, (90 minutes every weekday, occasional guests, too much free-form conversation) we simply couldn’t get enough participants or replays to entice advertisers. The time involved for the two of us who ran the show every morning was another factor.

So we killed it. We killed it a lot.

But there were some awesome things that came out of having a daily conversation and we are now going to take those awesome things and spin them into four separate things that will be so awesome it might just make you explode with, well,  awesomeness.

First thing’s first: We love Cover it Live. We love it so much, we’re using it in all four new ventures. So big giant HURRAY for Cover it Live.

  • Breaking comments. One of the ventures we are implementing right now. As some of you know, we’ve back and forth-ed on commenting for a long time. We simply can’t moderate every single comment as decried by our corporate owners because we simply don’t have the manpower. Also, the commenting system that comes with our software is… antiquated. But we really do want to have some form of commenting available. Our solution? We will embed a Cover it Live ‘chat’ on hot topic stories. The ‘talkers’, if you will. We’ll have one for Breaking stories, of course, but we’ll open up the conversation for severe weather, for example, as well. It will be moderated so we’ll remain in compliance with corporate policies, but we’ll at least be offering some way for our readers to engage and talk about a story.
  • Live Coverage. Another “spinoff” of am:gi will be live coverage. Our highest replays ever came from the day George and I went to Husker Harvest Days. George manned am:gi,  I went roving around, sending pics from HHD to Twitter which fed into the show. We learned that the people, they like this! Hopefully with the help of the Verizon MiFi (ohpleaseohpleaseohplease) and Cover it Live, we will continue to be a presence at events such as Black Friday, Expos, and the biggie: the State Fair’s first year in GI next year. The MiFi will let us not have to worry about whether the event has wi-fi and allow us to be pretty flexible. Plus it’s just cool.
  • Newsmaker Interviews. “Newsmakers” will be a spinoff of our guest segments from am:gi. We will do simple interviews and Q&A’s with people in our community who are in the news. We’re shooting for two per week. We will solicit questions from the community ahead of time (using email, a submission page, a Google Voice number to leave question) and during the show. The real value for this is in the replays and in the reverse-publishing.
  • Ask the Independent. Ask us anything. We’ll find the answer for you. Need to know how to contact a City Council member? We’ll get you numbers. Want to know where the money to move the State Fair came from? We’ll get that info for you. We may not be able to help you find your socks, but we can tell you which color looks best with khaki trousers 🙂 This show will be once a week and we’ll take questions via email, our Google Voice line, and a submission page on our website – oh and live during the show, time-permitting.

So those are our four spinoffs. The timesuck and manpower is lessened, but we feel the potential for advertisers is a lot bigger than it ever could have been with am:gi.

Don’t get me wrong, we loved am:gi and we met great people and discovered a little about what our community was talking about. But now it’s time to take those lessons and try the next thing. I’m very excited about these ideas.

4 Replies to “Daily Cover it Live Show: Lessons Learned”

  1. Those are awesome ideas! I especially love the comments on breaking news and the live coverage. I could see where the breaking news comments could actually aid your newsgathering with tips to pass on to reporters and photographers. Can't wait to see you put these to use.

  2. Very similar experiences with CiL, although we never had the resource to man a daily chat.

    We had run a few 'newsmaker' type Q & A's which were positive and gained a decent audience. I want to use them for breaking news and events coverage when the opportunities arise. am just trying to get more of the newsroom interested/involved.

    Managing user comments is also a similar problem as we have around 100 unmoderated comments most weekdays, which is too many to go through myself, now I'm temporarily managing our site on a daily basis. Luckily our user flagging system has helped and we haven't had too many people abuse the system.

    I like your 'ask the independent' idea, quirky but potentially full of great content and interaction. Getting some decent participant numbers is the key to pulling in some advertisers

  3. One question we always get when we want to cover live events is “If they wanted to go, wouldn’t they be there already?” How do you deal with questions like that?

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