Behind-The-Scenes at “Largest Live Operation” on the Web

By SteveK 

Tammy Haddad left her post as Washington VP at MSNBC over a year ago, and is back covering the conventions in 2008 in a very unconventional way.

As one of the executive producers of the Convention live webcasts for last week in Denver and next week in St. Paul, Haddad is looking to make the web the newest way to bring TV news to an audience hungry for political coverage.

We stopped by Thursday’s web cast as it went live at 6:00pmET. “We are on the internet,” assistant managing editor for news video for Chet Rhodes tells TVNewser. “We’re not trying to be NBC News.”

Rhodes, who also serves as an executive producer on the show, says the staff consists of people within the company. “We take people inside the company and train up on video,” he says. “This is the largest live operation of any newspaper.”

“We have what everyone else wants,” says Haddad.

What features distinguish it from the cablers and networks?

For one, it doesn’t have to worry about the balance of showing video of the speeches or providing commentary. With tabs, viewers can flip back and forth between what’s going on live on the convention podium and what’s being discussed during the show.

Also, viewers can provide instant feedback about what they’re seeing, and the producers can adjust accordingly.

“We can give the best of both worlds,” says Rhodes. “And we can do that because we’re on the web.”

As for the ratings — Rhodes says the number of viewers are not released by But he says the numbers are on par with the primaries, “or more,” which amounts to “thousands of people.”

On Thursday, The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza anchored with Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff.

Below, video of the webcast as it goes live: