It may sound counterintuitive, but you really do need a plan if you’re going to do the best possible job of covering breaking news. The more prepared you are, the less you have to worry about when the big story hits. That’s especially true online.
Consider the elements you’ll want to add to your Web covereage of breaking news and make sure you’re ready to build them in a hurry. The list would most likely include maps, timelines, resource links and slide shows ( because they’re more flexible and generally more popular with users than video).
If you don’t yet have a game plan for reporting a crisis online, consult the tip sheet Mark Luckie has put together at 10,000 Words. He links to tools that can help you produce interactive elements fast. For a quick Google map mashup, for example, he suggests FM Atlas. (Is it just me, or does it seem like there’s a new mapping tool added every week?)
Breaking news coverage on the Web requires more than a few interactive elements, however:
Most importantly, all the print stories, multimedia, interactive graphics and blog posts should be aggregated on one page to serve as a single destination for those looking for information related to the crisis. Not only does a landing page make content easily accessible but it makes the hunt for the latest news less of a struggle when time may be a factor.
Figuring out how to do all of this before a big story breaks will pay off big time when it does.