Newspaper Brands Online: A day in the life www.thesun.co.uk
campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 04 September 2009 12:00AM
Jade Goody's funeral was given unique treatment by The Sun. Its online editor, Pete Picton, takes us through Saturday 4 April, when the website produced and broadcast its own live footage of the event.
The online team that's going to cover the funeral arrives at The Sun editorial offices near Tower Bridge. That includes Vikki Thomas, who will be running the online news desk, the designer Jamie Griffin, Neil Hudd on the picture desk and David Ross, the head of video. We already have a Jade Goody microsite up and running, together with other background articles including a life in pictures commemorating her death, at just 27, of cervical cancer. We know from our traffic figures that Jade is of huge interest to our readers; before her death we'd had more than 10,000 messages of support. Video's been highly successful for us, so while the newspaper brings out a unique Saturday edition, we've decided to film the funeral procession and the service to show live. Plans to partner with a broadcaster haven't come off, so we're going it alone. KIT Digital, which provides our video solutions, has had just a few days to cope with the logistics of setting up outside broadcast vans, and to make arrangements to get a signal back to The Sun office.
The camera is getting the first shots of the start of the procession, filming vox pops and general views of the crowd. The signal is due to go live at 11.30, but meanwhile we're recording footage to take back to The Sun's office, half an hour away, so David's team can edit it into highlights. We've got a bright red Mercedes OB truck in place near St John the Baptist church in Buckhurst Hill, where the service is held, and one roaming camera unit, waiting for the start of the funeral procession in Jade's home town of Bermondsey. This camera unit, as well as following the procession, will get shots at the church of the cortege approaching, of the crowd and of the big screens.
The Sun picture editor, John Edwards, will be at the funeral service. I send him an e-mail asking for a piece to camera as he comes out of the church. With no cameras allowed in the service itself, this piece, together with good shots of the big video screens relaying the service outside the church, are going to be key.
Vikki and Jamie change the splash at the top of the site, as we wait for the first still picture of the coffin leaving the funeral parlour in a 1932 Rolls Royce hearse. www.thesun.co.uk has a carousel featuring four splashes at any one time; on the day of the funeral, Vikki and the reporter Harry Haydon rewrite splashes 27 times.
The camera crew is getting shots of the huge crowd following the 21-car procession, filming mourners laying flowers and releasing doves. Despite problems booking a slot to fly above the crowd, they've also managed to get aerial shots.
The live signal is up and running and we can have a look at the video coming through. We've only produced our own live streaming video once before for the site (covering the Labour Party conference last year), so it's great news to see it's working well. We're mixing shots from the fixed camera at the church, with pictures of the procession taken by the roaming camera.
Having changed the splash to show the reaction from the crowd, it now reads "Jade will have a big smile on her face" and underneath: "TV star would be overwhelmed at funeral crowd turn-out." We've also put up a slideshow carousel of the main pictures at the top of the page. So the site now has a slideshow carousel to click through, the main splash stories and then, to the right of that, you've got live streaming of the funeral. At my desk, I've got other live broadcasts playing to see how our coverage compares. Ours is looking good.
We start to get pictures of Jade's mum, Jackiey Goody, crying and Jade's husband, Jack Tweed, walking behind the coffin. The splash reads: "Be strong, she's looking down on you both." Neil, on our picture desk, is flying pictures out as quickly as possible to keep up with Vikki and Harry. You can see the significant moments on the live video as they happen, but the still pictures for the splashes take a bit longer to come through. So, at some points in the day, we're using screen grabs from the live video footage to keep up with the story. They might not be perfect, but one great thing about online is you can replace quickly, when a better still arrives.
Camera number two steps out of range for a few minutes, so we switch to longish, holding shots while we get the camera back.
Jack reads his poem to Jade and we set up another splash, "My life will never be the same", with a picture of Jack sobbing as he bears the coffin. The video that we're getting from the screens outside is looking pretty good, so we make sure the cameras concentrate on the screens for the crucial bits of the service.
The live link finishes and we switch to showing Sky's footage of the service, as well as the edited highlights of our own coverage.
I speak to the guy who runs our search and seeds our content to make sure that the story is going to various sites. We already have three stories on Drudge (a website run by the American journalist Matt Drudge), it would be great to get a Jade story on there as well. Despite being an American site, he has picked up Jade stories before.
John Edwards does a commentary piece to camera for us outside the church, as well as sending over copy for both the paper and the website.
The Sun's head of news, Chris Pharo, comes over with a piece to put up on the site about Jade's children - Bobby and Freddie - who were in Australia for the funeral. All the time, The Sun print operation, which works side by side with online, is putting together its special Saturday afternoon edition, led by the publishing director, Steve Waring. We're both aware of what's happening on the other's desk, but I'm so busy that I don't actually see their front page until after it's gone.
All through the day, The Sun community site, "My Sun", is being flooded with readers' messages for Jade and about the funeral, including large numbers of condolences. The special print edition picks up a lot of these messages, which are piped into more than 20 pages.
As usual, Google ads is feeding ads through that are relevant to key words in the content. But one of the messages on My Sun is from an unhappy reader who thinks that a Google ad about cremated ashes is inappropriate. We decide to turn the Google ads off from the story, while we look into the situation.
The final splash headline goes up, with Jade's words played on a film montage at the end of the funeral: "That's it from me. See you around maybe. Bye."
David is finishing up the highlights package for the funeral service. All day, the production team has been editing the footage to put on the site. So the full version of Jack's poem is now embedded in the site, along with Max Clifford's speech and other significant moments in the day.
I'm now out of the office, but wanting to make a change to the site. The team on the sports desk deals with it, so that there's a rewrite and a new carousel.
Early Sunday morning
Harry is back in the office updating the story.
This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk
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