During the Olympics in London, ESPN.com has kept fans in the loop with a 2012 Summer Olympics index page that features reporting from more than a dozen writers and an array of digital features designed to provide up-to-the-minute news and updates.
Of course, with all that is happening in London these final few days of the 2012 Games especially — including medal-round games in major team sports like soccer and basketball — keeping up with everything can be a challenge.
Front Row caught up with Patricia Mays, senior director/managing editor of Programming & Page 1, for insight on how ESPN.com gets it all done.
Keeping ESPN.com’s Page 1 “live” with up-to-the-minute news must be a daunting task. How do you do it?
Very daunting, indeed, especially with simultaneous live Olympic events. Our goal is to always be in the moment, giving our users an experience that is as close to watching the live action as possible — and in fact, a companion experience that can take them even deeper with comprehensive stats, real-time analysis and other data points that enhance the live action. That means constantly updating photos, headlines, summary text, scores, news stories, video, etc.
In addition, for the London Olympics we also give fans a centralized hub for all live activity, OlympicCast, which includes results and chats, plus we offer play-by-play via our GameCast feature for certain sports. The work done by our Page 1, News Desk and Production teams on a daily basis is pretty amazing.
Of course, the balance between quickness and accuracy is of primary importance. Can you describe how you strike that balance?
It’s pretty simple: Being fast always takes a backseat to being right. Though we strive to provide breaking news quickly and up-to-the-minute results, we realize that it’s far more important to be accurate, to assure sports fans that they can rely on us to get the facts right.
How do you coordinate all the reporting and editing in order to publish on various platforms?
It starts with a solid plan and communication. Long before the London Games got under way, Olympics editor Joy Russo put together a road map for our content strategy inclusive of all our platforms — from ESPN.com to TV to The Magazine. We identified top storylines and athletes to watch early on and adjusted as the Games have played out. Every night ends with a detailed cross-platform plan for the next day that includes columns, original digital video, TV rundowns, etc. But of course, we still stay very nimble, ready to adjust as news and storylines warrant.