How Different News Orgs and Websites Covered The State Of The Union Address

Planned political events like the annual State of the Union address aren’t the most compelling events to cover, but they can be a low-risk way to plan and test different coverage formats that you can later whip out for unpredictable breaking events. Below are a few of examples, ranging from Bing News to the Washington Post, of how various websites covered this year’s SOTU. The common theme: A live video stream and a live blog combined with some form of reader engagement. Many of the major sites also had a sponsor for their live coverage. Cha-ching!

NPR: Live audio stream with a live blog and live reader chat. 

I appreciated the live blog, though the discussion functionality at a national scale was a little disorienting. An enhanced broadcast that contained realtime captions, charts, graphs and other data. Social media participation and behind the scenes galleries.

Obviously they had a bit of an access advantage, but I still appreciate how they take an out-of-the-box approach to a standard event. News organizations could steal this concept for after-the-fact video coverage recaps.


Bing and Fox News: Realtime audience pulse and tweets from political experts.

Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, put together its own realtime interactive in partnership with Fox News, where you could specify your political affiliation and gender, then vote on a spectrum about your reaction throughout the address. The design was clunky, but the concept told me a better story than WaPo’s version of realtime reaction (below). 


Washington Post: A bundled homepage package featuring a realtime reaction meter, plus a live blog

I really loved the realtime reaction meter, which showed how readers felt about certain aspects of the speech, though Bing’s implementation painted a better picture. A no-no: WaPo left its reload function on the homepage, meaning the video was continually interrupted every few minutes when the page auto-refreshed. Had to switch to a different stream. 


Huffington Post: Homepage video and live updates. Huge headline.



NYTimes: Realtime dashboard, updating with analysis from Times staff. Featured reader reaction and a live video stream.


Politico:  Live video and relevant tweets.

This was a little strange, because it was sponsored by Bing, containing a link to Bing’s interactive and live stream referenced above. 


LA Times: Secondary homepage package featuring live video and tweets

I wanted to call this example out because the LA Times was dealing with a unique situation. They had news of national interest breaking locally — fugitive ex-LAPD Officer Christopher Dorner’s body may have been found in rubble after a standoff (UPDATE: Conflicting reports out now. LAPD says no body was found). They had to compete with that and SOTU at the same time.  I think this is perfect treatment. 


 UPDATE 8:30 p.m. PST: 

The Guardian US: 6-second video reaction

The Guardian US is doing something cool to capture user content using two different tools: Vine and Rebel Mouse. In six seconds, they asked people to tell them what they wanted to hear abou in the State of the Union address. Then they collected those videos on a Rebel Mouse page, which lets you aggregate your links from social media.