Blogs » Your Advocate: an editor's blog » What can the N.Y. Times learn from the Advocate?


My headline is meant only in humor. I doubt the Gray Lady is looking to the Victoria Advocate for much of anything.

I received an e-mail this week from a journalist for an online publication called InVocus. She wanted to ask me a few questions about the Advocate's Webcasts of its morning news meetings in relation to the new Timescast.

Along with answering her questions, I referred her to a previous Associated Press story on the Advocate's Webcasts. Below are her questions and my answers. I'd appreciate hearing your comments as well about how our Webcasts are going. I also hope you'll tune in at 10 a.m. for today's news meeting and again at 1 p.m. when Congressman Ron Paul speaks with our editorial board and any viewers out there.

-- Why did your paper decide to start broadcasting your daily editorial meetings?

We wanted to enhance the transparency and interactivity of our newsroom. The technology has made the Webcasts almost free and easy to do.

-- How long have you been doing it?

Since August 2008.

--What has your experience been with it?

We regularly get story ideas and suggestions from our readers. The audience is small, but we see no reason to discontinue. We meet anyway, so it's a fairly simple matter to turn on the Webcam and have an editor chat with our readers. We haven't encountered any downside. If nothing else, the practice encourages us to start our meetings on time.

-- Do you think that broadcasting your editorial meetings takes away from the exclusiveness of a story since your competition could be watching the cast as well?

Our only competition is a small-market TV station. We don't worry about them scooping us because we have a much larger news operation and because we can publish in real time to the Web. The Internet gives us the same immediacy as broadcast.

-- Have you been scooped on account of these meetings at any time?

It's possible, but nothing of any consequence. If someone sees a story first on TV, we're confident they will look to the newspaper for our coverage, too. Most studies show regular watchers of local TV news are faithful newspaper readers.

-- What has been the response from your readers? Do you think they appreciate the transparency of the practice?

The small audience that watches us seems to appreciate the effort. We also have received good response for the live Webcasts our editorial board does with political candidates. These naturally evolved from the Webcasts of our news meetings.

-- How many viewers would you say you typically get?

Not a lot. About a dozen on any given day.

-- How does this practice benefit the paper? How do you think it can benefit the New York Times?

We benefit from the conversation with our readers. Of course, we're a community newspaper so we have this conversation in many other ways -- at the grocery store, church and our kids' schools. This is just one extra time to talk.

I wouldn't presume to offer advice to the New York Times. I'm not sure our experience applies.