Sunday, 11 October 2009

Social media covers EDL protests in Manchester

EDL Protest in ManchesterThis weekend saw thousands converge in Manchester for the 'English Defence League' (EDL) and 'Unite Against Fascism' protests.

The last EDL protest in Birmingham had led to ugly scenes and many were concerned whether the same story would be repeated in Manchester.

As usual, Twitter proved its mettle as a way for users to quickly distribute news and information; city centre residents regularly tweeted and uploaded photographs during the day (congratulations to jonthebeef for excellent coverage yesterday).

Out of the major news outlets, The Manchester Evening News provided fantastic online coverage throughout the day. The paper harnessed various social media techniques to offer a comprehensive and involving report of the demonstrations.

Here's four ways they did it;

Regular coverage

During the day, five MEN reporters regularly tweeted the protest. From 11:45am to 7:53pm, frequent updates from staffers in the field kept users up to date with any news from the demonstrations – injuries, arrests and any developments. This coverage was infinitely more comprehensive than anything offered by the occasional live report on Sky News or the BBC website. Users could get a more complete picture of the protest from the MEN.

Use of rich media

A range of dramatic photographs helped users get a sense of the demonstrations. Regular photographs and the occasional video – from the MEN YouTube feed - conveyed the scenes better than a series of 140 tweets ever could. Fantastic work.

Putting it all together

The use of the Cover It Live application kept everything in the same place - aggregating Twitter feeds, photographs and video. This software allowed the MEN to comprehensively collect all of its various news sources, creating a fuller picture of the demonstration.

Users didn't have to flick through different channels and websites to learn all the news – the information was handily collected in one single place.

User submitted content

Users could put forward their comments in two ways - via the traditional discussion board under the feed – and in the actual feed itself.

The latter allowed users to feature in the 'event'. Their comments appeared in real time alongside those of the reporters on the scene. It was a nice way of including people in the conversation and debate.

One day, I hope someone discovers a safe way to integrate tweets from the 3rd parties without risking libel or misuse. It would have been nice to include updates from people in the middle of the protest.