Two more news collaborations have been completed.  Each utilized Ustream, but in different ways.  The first was Monday where we invited local artists Laurie Maves and Nemo to watch an investigative story by Brian Maass that looked at an art gallery in Aspen accused of plagiarizing art work.  They met Assistant News Director Kristine Strain, watched the story and asked some questions.

Soon after they left the station they broadcast their discussion of the story on Laurie's Ustream channel.  They talked everything from problems they have with news, to their blatant promo for channel 4, to their thoughts on the story during a few different clips on Ustream.  We asked for no editorial input or control in their broadcast and chats on Twitter and facebook.

Since they are very active in the local art community everything they did connected with other local artists, a very specific audience that could be interested in the story.  Regardless of what they said, they started the conversation early on this story.  Their input and ideas became supplemental information for the story. 

Our next project was yesterday.  We had a Ustream discussion on the safety of Colorado spas, salons and barbershops.  Ofelia Duran, DORA Program Director Office of Barber and Cosmetology Licensure, and Dr. Tahl Humes of Vitahl Medical Aesthetics watched Suzanne McCarroll's story Salon Safety: When Beauty Treatments Turn Ugly. They then sat down to talk about the story with Suzanne and me. 

Sadly, I forgot to hit record until after I introduced us and the purpose of the discussion.  I blame that on my pregnancy brain.  Perhaps it was more that I am too new to Ustream to remember that I have to hit record to save the broadcast!  I'll get it right the next time.  

Ofelia was interviewed by Suzanne for the story.  Since the story focused so much on DORA and consumer problems and rights, it was appropriate for her to also participate in the discussion.  If you need to find if a salon is licensed or to file a complaint, she is the person that would assist you.  I invited Dr. Humes to participate as well because she is a medical doctor who also owns her own medical spa.  She was able to address medical issues, as well as what she has experienced with consumers at the spa.  The discussion flowed well and provided useful information consumers can use.

The business question is of course: did viewers turn on the news?  As I've said there are no metrics to measure if social media efforts actually make them pick up their TV remotes, turn it on and turn the channel.  I don't know last nights ratings numbers yet, but CBS4 News' two biggest nights of the demo in the May book through yesterday were Thursday, May 13th and Monday, May 17th.  Both of these nights were social media news collaboration efforts, first with the Distracted Driver discussion on Ustream and chat; second, Laurie's and Nemo's Ustream and chat on the art gallery investigation.

No I don't believe these efforts were the only reason those nights were good for ratings, but I do believe every little bit helps and did effect the numbers.  We're connecting in new ways.  I plan to continue inviting community members to preview stories before the stories air.  As I've said, the chatter they create becomes the word of mouth promotion for the story.  I want to continue broadcasting Ustream chats on issues that are relevant to the public.  From news of the day to general issues we can use Ustream to reach more people.