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Gannett Sites Tapped Arsenal of Tools to Capture Excitement Surrounding Obama Inauguration

Staffers traveling with groups from Gannett communities posted blog items and photos and twitter messages as they traveled from the Deep South, New England and the Midwest to Washington, D.C., to be part of the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States.

In local communities, Gannett journalists talked with high school students and church groups and civil rights-era veterans about what Obama becoming president means to them. Sites reported on local gatherings of people who wanted to experience the day with others.

Honolulu and Wilmington capitalized on their unique relationships with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to provide extensive coverage and reaction from their communities.

Gannett sites, Gannett News Service, USA TODAY and Gannett Broadcast shared content through an inauguration portal that included analysis, editorial cartoons, photos, video and other content.

Washington connections

A number of Gannett journalists used blogs and twitter to report what was happening as they traveled with groups on buses and on the Mall in D.C. The best efforts offered color and good quotes from people who were watching the festivities to capture the excitement.

Two Indianapolis Star staffers embedded photos in their blog.㄀ Several high school student groups traveling from Honolulu blogged for The Honolulu Advertiser.㄀ A student at Mililani High School shared her experience in getting tickets, her view of the Capital during the swearing-in and new friends.

Twitter, including this example from The News Journal at Wilmington allowed readers/viewers to participate in creating the story.

Elizabeth Crisp, a reporter for The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., described the thrill of three retired teachers on a charter bus headed to Washington. “This is a dream come true,” said one.

USA TODAY, The Arizona Republic at Phoenix and KARE-TV live streamed the inauguration from various points using Mogulus. At one point shortly before the swearing-in, there were 14,000 simultaneous viewers watching the USA TODAY stream.

(We want to note that the total load on Mogulus – 70,000 simultaneous users – resulted in a lot of jerkiness and lost signals. That issue is being addressed aggressively.)

Special connections

The Honolulu Advertiser capitalized on being Obama’s home state, sending a reporter and a photographer to his former high school where students gathered in the auditorium to watch the ceremonies. Maria Fowler from Gannett News Service provided video of the school’s band, which marched in the Inauguration parade. For the Advertiser, this was very much a local event. Its Web site traffic showed an increase compared to other sites.

The Advertiser also invited Hawaii high school student body presidents or school representatives to write essays, sharing their thoughts about what they hope and expect for themselves, their classmates and their generation from an Obama presidency.㄀

The News Journal at Wilmington provided a strong report on all events related to the inauguration, with a special emphasis on Vice President Joe Biden. Wilmington’s extensive live inauguration coverage included a mid-afternoon EXTRA edition Tuesday that included coverage of Obama’s swearing in and speech. ㄀The News Journal distributed 15,000 copies of the EXTRA, which were expected to sell out.

Local connections

FLORIDA TODAY at Brevard aired a two-hour local program using Mogulus, which aired on the local public broadcast program. An anchor interviewed the heads of the Republican and Democratic parties in the Information Center, interspersed with live interviews with residents at a local coffee shop and a McDonald’s.

The Des Moines Register sought out comments from local leaders. “I find it difficult to even put into words … It’s wonderful that this is happening during my lifetime,” Willie Stevenson Glanton, Iowa’s first female African-American state lawmaker, told the newspaper.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette asked area residents to share their hopes for the incoming president. Bess Lee, a Hmong student, wrote about more job offerings and better pay. Businessman Jim Rivette urged the president to hold true to his vision of a unified country and “help us overcome our greatest trials and tribulations.”

The Cincinnati Enquirer encouraged readers to share what they would say to Obama as he starts his term as 44th president. Marion Bennett said: “I dreamed and hoped this would happen, a black president. I hoped that it would happen in my lifetime. It did. You are God sent.” Another, Robert Hudson, write: “I have yet to hear President-elect Obama talk much about how his ideas would create more private-sector jobs.”

Shared content

at Gannett sites included shared content through an “Inauguration of Barack
Obama” portal that included analysis from Gannett News Service, live news
from USA TODAY, photos from the swearing-in, the parade and the inaugural balls,
video and other content.

The inauguration portal linked to The Arizona Republic‘s “First Hundred Days of President Barack Obama” Web report, which will include stories, pictures and video on the progress Obama makes in his first 100 days. The Day One report included text and video of the inaugural speech, analysis, a piece on how Arizonans reacted, and other slide shows and video.

The inauguration portal also included inauguration editorial cartoons produced by Gannett cartoonists.

Last Modified: January, 2009