Monday, September 9, 2013


If there's one area of journalism that has undergone the most change during the 'digital revolution', it's breaking news. Breaking news has become more time sensitive than ever, and the online environment has opened up a whole host of new ways for journalists to share stories with their audience as events unfold.

This morning our guest lecturer was Marissa Calligeros, breaking news journalist at brisbanetimes.com.au. It was really exciting to have Marissa share her experience with us and for someone so young she had a wealth of knowledge to share.

Perhaps the most important objective of breaking news in an online world is to break news first - and stay ahead. Marissa works to the motto of making sure brisbanetimes.com.au has the latest on the biggest stories of the day. Essentially, the 6pm news should become redundant.

Aside from speed (which, let's face it, has been done to death on this blog), Marissa talked us through the ins and out of covering breaking news.

Often, she'll be covering a story on the scene and that means filing stories on an iPhone or iPad (ironically, I had to use my phone to take notes in the lecture this morning after forgetting my book). Covering breaking news can tend to be a one-man job, so it's important to be across everything. Phones can be used to take perfectly fine photos and videos, but a decent camera will always be preferable. Aside from the usual journo staples of a notepad and a recorder, one of the best tips I picked up from Marissa is how incredibly useful phone apps can be for journalists. Aside from social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram which can be updated on the go, there are radio apps to keep a track of other news and apps like Evernote for writing or Qik for video-sharing.

Marissa also encourages us to think about how our stories could be best communicated. Big breaking news stories tend to be covered by a number of different news outlets, so offering an immersive, more complete, reader experience can give you an edge over the competition. This might include:
  • A livestream video
  • A live blog
  • An embedded Twitter feed
  • A Google map or photo gallery
  • Reader comments
  • Poll questions
  • A video VOX pop
  • Video or audio coverage
Breaking news is an exciting and fast-paced area of journalism, and the online environment has only served to further increase the intensity and demand. It isn't something I'd really considered pursuing, but my interest has been piqued by Marissa's lecture.


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