It’s a pretty complex machine, a newsroom, with hundreds of cogs working together to deliver that folded paper that accompanies your morning coffee. That may be becoming a slightly antiquated image these days, but in Estonia it’s still relevant and it’s the image that kicks off Postimees’ 24-hour live coverage from their newsroom.
Last month, leading Estonian daily Postimees ran a 24-hour live event, providing its readers with a digital all-access pass to their newsroom. The paper’s staff wanted to show its readers how the newspaper is made and, as Aivar Reinap, head of digital production explained, they couldn’t “invite hundreds of readers to the newsroom.” So, in creating a Scribble event, they did the next best thing.
According to Reinap, they wanted to show how their editorial decisions are made and give the behind-the-scenes staff a bit of acknowledgement. After all, you’ll recognise the name of your favourite journalist, but you might not think about the ad sales team who keep the publication in circulation or the designer who creates the layout of the page. There are a lot of human stories behind a newspaper, and who better to tell them than the newspaper itself.
Liveblogging a day in the newsroom
The coverage begins and ends with a Postimees journalist picking up the morning edition from his mail box, 24 hours apart. In between you get access to editorial discussions, lunch dates, design meetings, the printing presses and, finally, the postwoman on her morning route. According to Reinap, 30 members of staff contributed to the event – he taught them ‘in a couple of minutes’ and they all found it ‘very easy to use, enjoying sharing their daily life with readers.’
Postimees was upfront about details that readers would normally never know. Anvar Samost, the editor-in-chief, reveals in the morning that there are ‘already more than 2,000 concurrent readers’ which, apparently, is ‘normal’. Later in the afternoon, he says they have ‘10,000 simultaneous readers,’ which is better than ‘last week … at the same time.’ Just before the first editorial meeting of the day, however, he admits that they won’t be covering it live, as ‘the competitors are reading too :)’ At one point you see a page layout scribbled with a pen on an A4 then a couple of hours later you see it designed and printed as it appears in the paper.
They ran this event to show their readers the machinations of a newspaper, so it stands to reason that their readers’ voice also plays an important part. On a rail on the right hand side of the page there’s a space where readers can leave comments and interact with the journalists. Some asked about the logistics of newspapers, some probed into Postimees’ internal politics and others left their thoughts on this day in the life: ‘Good PR move by Postimees, original and interactive. Kudos’
So, happy readers, happy journalists and—that’s right—happy editors. They promoted the event well, keeping it on the first or second place on the homepage throughout the day which helped drive a lot of traffic. Over 225,000 uniques visited the page, clocking up more than 3,000,000 UEMs; for a country with a population of 1.4 million, one third of whom don’t speak Estonian, those are some pretty impressive numbers.
The following day they were the talk of the town: journalists were discussing it on the radio and on TV, politicians brought it up in conversations with staff and, the biggest compliment of all, they’ve heard rumours that others are now planning similar projects. As for Postimees, it was such a success that they’re thinking of making it a regular event—maybe once a year. Is there anything they’d change? More videos — everyone loved the printing press videos.