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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



The Web, government and you

In the new world order of electronic devices, we here at the newspaper have made increased use in the last couple weeks of live online coverage of the same-sex marriage debate. Perhaps you were among those who tuned in.

It was an interesting ride. We received a lot of comments from people who appreciated being able to watch hearings and floor votes online, where they could see the action on camera and listen to the, all while sharing comments with other viewers and deeply insightful interpretation by yours truly.

I have no idea if the Web will be what saves newspapers or kills them, but I found this use to be a good thing.

People who don't normally follow the workings of government had a chance to see it for themselves. They learned it wasn't fast or convenient, but instead sometimes long and boring. Frankly, if it weren't sometimes long and boring, everybody would want to be there and you might not need people like me translating it for you.

But if the Web can help us bring you directly to the seat of government occasionally and uncover the mysteries of what goes in, that's a good thing.

- Terri Hallenbeck

I'm a frequent critic of the Free Press, however, the streaming coverage of the marriage bill debate that you provided was really good.

There are obviously some things to work out. You had limited camera angles due to house and senate rules. You had only one camera. The audio was ok, but not great. There were no captions – so viewers didn’t always know who was talking.

The process wasn’t always described very well. People who tuned in didn’t always know exactly what was happening (are they voting on the bill or an amendment to the bill? What is the 2nd reading?)

But overall it was a big breakthrough for the BFP. You're “off the page now”. You are no longer just dealing with the written word. Covering events live, as they happen.

The web isn't going to kill newspapers. Unimaginative news providers will. Adapt or die.

This week and last, the BFP showed that they are not unimaginative.

Thanks for your coverage. I look forward to seeing more great coverage in the future.
Thought you might be interested in knowing that I received an e-mail from someone in the U.K. immediately after the vote telling me she had watched it there. Your reach now is worldwide!

Rep. Dick Marek
kudos to the bfp for coverage throughout the freedom to marry debate including editorial stance and live stream.....roberta dubrowsky, wrj
this is a a great service that aids in achieving the goal that all journalistic organizations should have: do everything possible to keep citizens as informed as possible about government activity. my only concern is that newspaper brass might decide that this raw coverage is a substitute for the good reporting done by Terri and Nancy. it would be a terribly misguided move to cut back on their reporting which provides necessary context and sifting of spin. if it is used to supplement coverage, then great.

the folly of cutbacks at newspapers is that the paper has less and less local, quality content worth reading and paying for. it seems to me the only way forward for newspapers is to provide interesting, distinctive content. it seems to me the video streams fit that category.
All the web stuff has been very impressive, especially when you compare to other papers generally, and especially-especially when you compare to other papers in comparable markets.
Those of us limited to dial up can dream at least.
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