Google Hangouts: Reader engagement through live video chats

Los Angeles Times Lakers beat writer Mike Bresnahan laughs during a live video discussion with Sports Editor Mike James and columnist Bill Plaschke.

We’re doing more and more Google Hangouts at latimes.com.  Love it.  Smart.  A big differentiator.

We’re building a place to have smart conversations.  A place where readers can go to not only better understand an issue but to interact with the reporters and the newsmakers.

It’s also good because it shows our home page is alive.  This is especially important now.  People have to know that we’re live 24 hours a day.  And the live video discussions help communicate this to our most loyal audience and prospective new loyal audiences.  Our readers get to know us in a more personal and deeper way.

Deeper relationship

Plus, it really augments our content.  Steve Lopez’ column last week on death in dignity was powerful on its own.  It stands alone.  But then to have him discuss it with people personally involved in the issue brings our readers closer plus it allows our readers to get to know Steve in a different way.  He’s already got a huge following.  This deepens the relationship and allows our younger readers to get to know him.

Expertise

Another good example:  David Lazarus hosting a conversation on ‘hate in America.’  This followed a terrific story on  the influence of hate-filled music and violence in America in light of the Sikh temple shooting last week.  Really good conversation with reporters from the LATimes who have real depth in the subject, like Kim Murphy and August Brown.  And outside experts who track, monitor, have participated in such groups.

The conversation is solid.  It’s informative, interesting, and important.  And it gives our content another life.  If you missed it the first time, we’re offering the story in another format.  Plus, we’re hoping you’ll go back and check out the original story.

Fascinating

Then there’s been the fantastic coverage of the Mars Curiosity Project.  City Editor Shelby Grad has been relentless on this.  It’s a fascinating topic with a local angle.  Plus, we have real expertise on it.  Reporter Scott Gold has been exceptional in explaining the significance of the Project.  You can’t tamper down his enthusiasm when he discussed the unbelievable photos that Curiosity has brought back so far.

Whether it be the conversation with Internet sensation ‘Mohawk Guy.’  Or Amina Khan discussing the mission, or continuing updates from Scott Gold, the live video conversations produced real conversations with the experts.

Insightful

Another solid discussion this week with Jim Rainey, Maeve Reston, and Robin Abcarian discussing Mitt Romney’s vice presidential pick possibilities.  Real pros with great chops who are really comfortable in front of the camera.

Entertaining

One of my favorites this week was the discussion between Sports Editor Mike James, columnist Bill Plaschke, and LATimes reporter Mike Bresnahan on the Lakers trade which brought Dwight Howard to LA.  It’s our version of Around the Horn.  It was fun.  Really entertaining and informative.  Loved it.

Most of our Google Hangouts are still one-way.  That’s going to change.  We’re working on ways to make it truly interactive (which it’s gotta be).  Ramping up.

Follow me on Twitter @jimmyorr

 

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