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When the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan started accelerating with beautiful velocity, The New York Times rapidly shifted into stay protection mode: Reporters and editors posted developments as they occurred on the collapse of Kandahar, the disintegration of the Afghan navy, the worldwide response to the U.S. authorities’s actions and extra, all packaged collectively.
The stay protection format, which permits journalists to share the information as they be taught it, has grow to be a well-recognized one at The Times for reporting huge occasions. So far this yr, the newsroom has printed greater than 800 stay tales, every consisting of a sequence of dispatches and updates that collectively can quantity to hundreds of phrases. On a typical day, The Times publishes 4 stay packages — on the coronavirus, politics, enterprise information and excessive climate — however there have been days with as many as eight.
In the center of all of it is the Live workforce, a unit of a couple of dozen reporters and editors that was fashioned at the start of the yr to collaborate with desks throughout the newsroom in creating and executing breaking information protection.
The Times has outgrown its function as a New York-centric print newspaper, Marc Lacey, an assistant managing editor who leads the Live workforce, stated. It is now a world digital information group that additionally produces podcasts, movies and newsletters together with a newspaper — the funding within the Live workforce is simply the most recent step in its steady evolution, he added.
“I want people all over the world to think about us when a big story breaks,” he stated. “Whether it’s in Times Square or Tiananmen Square or somewhere in between.”
Front-page information occasions — wildfires, the earthquake in Haiti, the resignation of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo — are obvious candidates for live coverage. But The Times has offered live coverage of the Grammy Awards, the National Spelling Bee, the Olympics, even Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s interview with Oprah Winfrey.
“Anything people want to know information about immediately is a good fit,” Traci Carl, one of two deputy editors on the Live team, said.
Live stories are anchored by beat reporters who are experts on their subject matter, and the Live team works as a group of consultants to other departments. Its journalists will offer ideas, troubleshoot problems, assist in reporting and editing, and at times create or manage a live story. “We act as a support system for desks,” Ms. Carl said. “We help them get a team in place and advise on the best approaches, but we don’t want to run their coverage.”
While The Times’s Express desk, another unit of reporters and editors, initially responds to many breaking news stories, the Live team, working with other departments, focuses on setting up live coverage. Express reporters are frequently critical in contributing to live coverage as other desks like International and National dispatch correspondents to the scene.
The Times mainly uses two types of live formats. A fast-moving blog, in which the latest information appears at the top, allows for short comments by reporters interspersed with concise reported items, a format used for the Derek Chauvin trial and the Emmy Awards. Briefings, which have an index of their entries at the top, “are more of a synthesis of a big story, a little higher altitude,” Mr. Lacey said.
“A blog is like a fire hose of news,” Melissa Hoppert, a deputy editor for the Live team, said. “A briefing is a curated experience with takeaways at the top: Here’s what you need to know if you read only one thing on the subject all day.”
The Times has experimented with live blogs for about a decade, and it turned to live coverage to report on momentous events like the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015. The Times published its first daily coronavirus briefing on Jan. 23, 2020, and has not stopped since, making it the organization’s longest running 24-hour live briefing.
The reader demand for live coverage, especially the coronavirus briefing, which recently surpassed 900 million page views, led The Times to create the Live team.
Producing the daily live briefings requires collaboration among dozens of editors, reporters and researchers around the world: The coronavirus briefing, for instance, is a 24-hour relay involving multiple time zones and three hubs in Seoul, South Korea; London; and New York.
The editors overseeing the briefings stay in constant contact through video conferences as well as email, multiple encrypted apps, internal chat groups and Google Docs.
“It’s intense,” Ms. Hoppert said of working a briefing shift during a fast-breaking news event. “You’re essentially figuring out what’s going on at the same time readers are.”