WCCO launches The Wire social media and interactive timeline news site

WCCO launches The Wire social media and interactive timeline news site

Social media junkies got a sneak peak at The Wire, WCCO-TV's new social media journalism application, last October. Sharp eyes might have caught a lightning-fast promo for the project when the station aired the Super Bowl in January. The station has been teasing it to death on Facebook. Now, digital media director John Daenzer has made it official: The Wire is live. It's a live test. Check it out and comment via Twitter.

The Wire is an interactive timeline for news and events that allows users -- journalists and citizen journalists alike -- to follow and influence a story's development in real time. It funnels them into a central user experience -- a single destination -- rather than stand-alone social media, mobile and Web applications.

And, out of the gate, it has at least one main sponsor: Home Service Plus, a division of CenterPoint Energy.

Screenshot of an early mobile app version
Screenshot of an early mobile app version

Daenzer said when he unveiled the concept a few months ago to about 50 local social media junkies, "We want to break down the wall that says we are the brokers of information. I think it's time that we as the media admit that we don't have all the answers."

Here's how it' designed to work.

A WCCO reporter or editor might start a timeline rolling with a post about planned coverage of a big story. Broadcast news hosts and Web jockeys would promote The Wire's coverage, urging the audience to join the WCCO team and contribute to the story, via the Web, text, or a mobile application.

As contributions come in, they would appear on the timeline as bubbles of information; as more contributions come in centered on a particular story element, the size of that element's bubble grows. When fresh details come in, new bubbles are created, while the timeline moves across the screen. Click on any bubble and it expands to a detail page that may contain text reporting, images, video, comments and suggestions from anyone, anywhere, including from the anchor desk or perhaps even the iPhone of someone trapped on their roof as they await rescue.

An editor would vet all the content to make sure it's as accurate as possible under the circumstances, before pushing it live, Daenzer says. Once a story timeline is created, it would live forever an archive, be searchable, and be available for sharing using all the popular social media tools of the trade (Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and more).

The question now is, will news consumers walk The Wire? Stay tuned.

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