Wednesday, April 8, 2009

A Landmark Day at VPR

I want to share just a few details of yesterday’s coverage of the same-sex marriage bill in Montpelier. There were many people involved in concurrent efforts that followed the events of the day on a minute-to-minute basis – on the air and online.

First, many people took advantage of VPR's live stream from the Vermont Statehouse. We heard the Senate deliberate the veto override. Then we heard the House deliberate on the veto override. In each case, we heard the outcome and the sound from the Statehouse.

Second, the homepage and news page were planned to undergo constant change to accomplish two things: preview what was coming up in the next minutes or hour and also report on the results. Copy, headlines, content were all undergoing continuous alterations. This is new for VPR.

Meanwhile, Vermont Edition Senior Producer Patti Daniels was on Twitter announcing the moment-by-moment details to the social networking audience - previewing what was to come as well as the results. VPR's Facebook fans were also receiving updates.

Then, once the news was known that the House and Senate had overridden the governor's veto, we let you know on VPR Classical and On Point so that you'd know the results and tune in for Vermont Edition at noon.

Vermont Edition itself included live reports from VPR's reporters at the Statehouse. At one point during the program, Governor Douglas was on the air, immediately followed by House Speaker Shap Smith. In addition, the phone lines were flooded. Something like 10 emails were read on the air, 14 callers spoke during the program, and five pieces of tape were included in the reports.

Afterward, VPR's public action page was put in place to provide a continuing forum for discussion. More than 50 people have emailed VPR so far, surely one of the largest responses we've had.

While all this was going on, VPR was preparing an NPR piece to air in All Things Considered Tuesday afternoon. Then, VPR's newscasts were written, edited, and produced to sum up the day's events, with unique news reports and perspectives from various viewpoints. This morning’s coverage continued with more voices from Montpelier, analysis and commentary.

This all occurred with many hands in different departments making the work as light as possible to achieve a very big goal.

This was a landmark day for Vermont. It was also a landmark day for VPR and the way we cover important issues. Your comments are welcome.

John Van Hoesen
Vice President for News and Programming

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