Brent Boyer: The news happens now

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Brent Boyer

Contact Editor Brent Boyer at 871-4221 or e-mail bboyer@SteamboatToday.com.

I was contacted by two readers Sunday who were upset that the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s coverage of Johnny Spillane’s silver medal win in Vancouver, British Columbia, ruined the surprise of watching it on NBC’s tape-delayed telecast. More specifically, they objected to our breaking news text message that revealed Spillane’s and Todd Lodwick’s finishes. The problem, they said, was that our alert was sent out as NBC’s taped coverage of the thrilling and ultimately historic cross-county race was under way.

I’m sympathetic to their anger — our intent certainly wasn’t to ruin anyone’s day — but also keenly aware of the challenge a news organization such as the Pilot & Today faces in terms of reporting Olympic results in real time.

Our job is to report the news as it happens, and Spillane’s win in Sunday’s Nordic combined event certainly qualified as a monumental news event for Routt County. Although NBC chose to not broadcast the jumping or cross-country portions of the event live, we pushed ahead with blow-by-blow updates on the newspaper’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. We also published and continually updated a story on www.steamboatpilot.com reflecting the Americans’ performance in the jumping round, which set the stage for the medal-determining cross-country ski race. I think that’s the correct approach and one we will continue to follow throughout the games.

But Twitter, Facebook and www.steamboatpilot.com updates are different from text alerts. In most cases, the former are information avenues in which folks play an active role in exposing themselves to the news. It’s hard to have much sympathy for someone who didn’t want to know the results of the cross-country race — or any other news or sports event, for that matter — yet spent the afternoon browsing Facebook and Twitter posts, or went to www.steamboatpilot.com looking to read the latest local news.

A cell phone text alert, on the other hand, can sneak up on us when least expected and leave us with few options for avoiding the content of its message. The scenario probably went something like this: Folks who were watching Sunday’s race felt a buzz in their pocket, took out their phone and, before they could stop themselves, saw the results of the race they were watching.

We have about 400 readers who receive cell phone text message alerts from us, and I presume most of them signed up for the free service because they want to be alerted to major local news events as they happen. We’re careful not to frustrate readers with an overwhelming number of alerts about relatively inconsequential news items. Instead, we reserve the alert function for only the most significant and breaking news. And though Spillane’s silver medal Sunday qualified, I understand how our alert affected the experience of some of our readers.

For the duration of the Olympics, we’ll be more careful in the wording of our text message alerts to readers. For instance, instead of revealing the places of local finishers, we might let readers know that the results are in and available at www.steamboatpilot.com or, for smart phone users, www.mobile.steamboatpilot.com. We will, however, continue to provide real-time updates on our Twitter accounts — Steamboatpilot and StmbtOlympics — and Facebook page. And updated stories will continue to appear on www.steamboatpilot.com and our Olympics page, www.steamboatpilot.com/olympics.

In the meantime, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that NBC has the good sense to provide a live broadcast of the upcoming Nordic combined events. But even if the network doesn’t, we’ll still report the news as soon as it happens.

If you’re worried about knowing the results too soon, I’d suggest you do what I do on those Sundays when I’m forced to DVR a Broncos game — remove yourself from the world until the moment you can sink into your couch and hit the play button. It’s not perfect, but it’s the times we live in.

From the Editor appears Thursdays in the Steamboat Today. Call Brent Boyer at 970-871-4221.

Comments

Scott Wedel 4 years, 10 months ago

Brent, This is your biggest concern suitable for a column? Results are available within minutes of the event on major online news sites, on ESPN's sports news clicker and so on.

And you prattle on about some people that signed up for news alerts that learned about the results before the event was shown on TV? A couple sentences describing the situation followed by "Duh! Duh! Duh! Duh! Duh! Duh!" until you ran out of space would have been more to the point.

The reads-better-as-sarcasm real estate articles should concern the editor. I truly have not found a realtor that doesn't consider the real estate articles in the Sunday paper to be a joke. The real world of realtors is a staggering lack of volume that is staying way below historic lows and daily calls from spec home builders desperate to sell property that doesn't even have anyone looking at it. Spend a few minutes with a realtor's instant messages and see the stream of price reductions. And listen to the realtor say how another 20% or so is need for this or that property to have a chance to find a buyer.

The paper's superficial reporting of housing issues being decided by the City Council should concern the editor. The only people worth quoting on housing issues is YVHA, city council and city staff? Isn't there anyone outside of government able to give economic and housing market analysis?

Or maybe the weekly lodging barometer articles that consistently say this year is doing fine while lodging revenues are down. The fact that this year's numbers is calculated differently than last year's number and counts more groups of people than last year should suggest that the article is now comparing apples with oranges. And maybe that same mistake should not be repeated for 52 weeks until finally the year ago number was calculated via the same methods as this year's number.

Or maybe apologize for the E-edition that is the sort of hideous crap that would have been crap 10 years ago. The image of printed paper as compared to rendering which means zooming to actually try to read result in the letters being blotchy instead of letters of a specific font size. So E-edition is not only a challenge to read, it cannot be searched. And the viewing program quite possible being the worst such program in existence.

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Scott Glynn 4 years, 10 months ago

I believe it was Plutarch (40ish A.D.-120ish A.D.) - "To find fault is easy, to do better may be difficult".

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Carrie Requist 4 years, 10 months ago

I appreciate you changing the text messages. I had gone off grid until I could watch the DVR for Nordic Combined but had to keep the phone on and got caught by the text message. Still a damn exciting race.

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freerider 4 years, 10 months ago

Brent you do a good job even though we don't always agree on stuff.... And Scott you whine more than my 4 year old

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kathy foos 4 years, 10 months ago

Wow Scott you are worked up!You act like Brent caused the Real Estate to Crumble,not just report on it,Must be the New Moon.Maybe he caused this whole damn depression?Who really cares about the lodging barometer at the end of the day?If you could take up a cause worthy of yourself,(helping homeless skiers?) you could just change the world.Poor Brent.Point is we are all hurting out here now,DUH.What can you do positive to change it?At least he is in a position to speak to people properly,you are into real estate?Not that I care, but you are the one that wants to know who we all are and post your name.Good luck on the issue of your choice,maybe you will be happier on the Full Moon?

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greenwash 4 years, 10 months ago

Mommas dont let your Cowboys or Olympians grow up to be realtors.

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