Baton Rouge ‘Advocate’ Merges Web Site With TV Station

By: Carl Sullivan

Updated at 5:25 p.m. Eastern Standard Time

The Advocate of Baton Rouge and WBRZ-TV News 2 merged their Web sites Wednesday into a single site, www.2theadvocate.com. Both the newspaper and TV station are owned by the Manship family of Louisiana’s capital city.

The two media began online cooperation about two years ago but it was minimal, said Advocate New Media Director Freda Yarbrough. “In 2002, we began posting WBRZ video, but on a very limited basis for breaking news events.” The TV site also linked to the newspaper’s classifieds, while the paper in turn linked to Channel 2’s weather radar.

Now both broadcast and print reporters contribute to the merged Web site, although combined news projects between the newsrooms are not yet on the table, Yarbrough said. The Web site has its own beefed-up staff of 12, including a managing editor and an online revenue manager who works with the print and TV ad sales staffs.

The online staff is housed in the newspaper building, about five minutes away from the TV station. “Our building is undergoing a design review at the moment and plans are for [the new media department] to be on the floor next to the main newspaper newsroom, but we are currently one floor below the main newsroom” along with some of the feature sections of the newspaper, Yarbrough said.

The staff keeps in touch with the newspaper and TV station through instant messaging (IM), e-mail, and the telephone. “Someone on staff goes to the daily news meetings of each venue and we hold an online meeting at 3 p.m. every day to select video and stories for the next day’s online edition which goes online between midnight and 1 a.m.,” Yarbrough said.

2theadvocate.com was designed by Morris Digital Works of Augusta, Ga., which also hosts the site. “Seems like we started this long ago and far away in another galaxy, but it’s only been two years,” Yarbrough said of the convergence project.

Steve Yelvington, vice president for strategy and content at Morris, praised the effort in Baton Rouge. “I think this project is catalyzing a whole new level of collaboration between the two institutions,” he said. “Our intent was to create a design that reflects the blended TV/print heritage of the site. I’m delighted at the way the Advocate and WBRZ are collaborating to get video news integrated into their presentation.”

Yelvington said the site also created a unique traffic application, “pulling in accident data from government sources and plotting the results on an animated map using Flash technology. It’s an approach we’re going to use on other sites in the future.”

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