Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bob Kinzel Goes Viral

From John Van Hoesen, VPR's vice president for news and programming:

"Sometimes, the digital age can be so cool.

Yesterday, for example, Bob Kinzel, who's been writing about health care reform for many years, decided not long after our morning news meeting that he would try to reach Howard Dean to get his reaction on the progress of health care reform in Washington. So let's first honor the tradition of analog, because the idea started in Bob's head! But next, Bob shot an email off to Dean and got a positive response.

So in the noon hour, Bob was on the phone to Dean, who was on his mobile phone in Puerto Rico. And in his news-making way, Dean said to Bob and Bob recorded the following:

"This is essentially the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate. And, honestly, the best thing to do right now is kill the Senate bill and go back to the House and start the reconciliation process, where you only need 51 votes and it would be a much simpler bill."

So Bob began to organize his story for VPR. Meanwhile, a blogger at the Washington Post had heard that Dean had talked to VPR about health care and got on the phone to Bob to find out just what was up and Bob confirmed the quote. In minutes, the digital world was alive with blogs and tweets about VPR's news in the making. Bob also began work on a story for NPR's newscast and we provided the information to Mara Liasson for her interview with Robert Siegel during All Things Considered.

VPR posted the text of the story online and the whole piece aired in our 5:50 p.m. newscast.

In the meantime, the big news organizations were at our digital door, all wanting instantaneous audio for their own news programs. I don't think we've had so many emails and phone calls in such a short period of time.

In the end, dozens and dozens of blogs repeated the news, page after page of them on Google, and news organizations were posting on their sites, entry after entry.

In addition to hearing this story on VPR or seeing it online, you may have heard VPR's audio on CNN, The Today Show, MSNBC or ABC.

And so far, thanks to our digital analytics, we can tell you that Bob's story was the fourth most-viewed story on in 2009. The Crown Point Bridge is still leading this category!

It's a fast world but, as always for all of us here at VPR, as cool as the digital age is, it's the coolest when we can provide meaning to something that's important to you. "

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