Guardian Glastonbury band tracker The Guardian's Glastonbury band tracker, one of the tools used to cover the festival
Guardian stories with Glastonbury in the headline notched up the same number of page views during the festival as the whole of the website gets in a typical weekend.

So how did coverage of the music festival achieve 2.1 million page views between last Wednesday and Monday morning?

Journalism.co.uk has been speaking to the Guardian's music editor Caspar Llewellyn Smith and taking a look at some of the online tools, reader interaction, multimedia and cross platform presentation, plus the challenges of true field reporting and on site coverage.

The team

The editorial team, who were based in two cabins on site, consisted of 30 people: four or five photographers; music journalists; four or five multimedia reporters; two from the newsroom; a music journalist from the Observer; a team from G2 magazine; one person to create a daily music podcast, plus music critics and the music editor.

The Guardian's music site


The music site is currently a "work in progress", Llewellyn Smith told Journalism.co.uk, with the back end undergoing several changes along the lines of the Guardian's books site.

Tools of engagement

The "tools for greater user engagement", as Llewellyn Smith describes them, include this band tracker powered by Music Metrics, which sweeps the web, including social networks, for references of artists and creates a fun visual; a one armed bandit called the Glastonbury Randomiser allowing users to find three randomly selected artists to look up; and an impressive list of 600,000 artist pages, which include links to Guardian and Observer stories on the artist, plus other content from around the web such as YouTube and Last.fm.

Readers are able to create lists of their favourite bands, and on the Glastonbury section, they are encouraged to email the Guardian with their own videos and upload photos to the Guardian's Glastonbury Flickr group. A selection of readers' photos are expected to be featured in tomorrow's newspaper "marrying digital and print", as Llewellyn Smith said.

Another development on the horizon for the Guardian's music section is that readers will soon be able to write their own music reviews.

The idea of user-generated images, video and reviews is "all about opening up journalism," Llewellyn Smith said. "It's a painful thing for me as a journalist but there are things going on that we just don't know about."

Reporting from the field

The Guardian would not be the Guardian without a liveblog. This year was the first time the news organisation liveblogged Glastonbury, with it running from 11am to 1am, providing a "more truthful story" of the festival as a whole, according to Llewellyn Smith.

Journalists worked a rota to liveblog and included photos sent to the them by the Edge from U2, to offer behind the scenes insight.

In addition to tweeting, journalists were gathering video for the site. "People from G2 without great experience in filming were armed with an iPod and given five minutes training," Llewellyn Smith explained.

Rather than battling with the on site connectivity, reporters then returned to the cabin with the footage, which was uploaded to the Guardian's YouTube channel.

In addition to providing digital and print content, the Guardian is the main media sponsor of Glastonbury and printed a cover wrap for the on site G2 and a special issue on Monday.

Along with all the music journalism and multimedia reporting, a hard news story broke at this year's festival.

The chairman of David Cameron's Tory constituency association, Christopher Shale, was found dead in a toilet on Sunday morning.

Llewellyn Smith explained he received a text from Observer colleague Gareth Grundy to tell him "something very strange is going on", with a police presence beside a block of toilets. Within half an hour of the discovery of the body, Llewellyn Smith had spoken to police press officers and was able to report on the liveblog that a man had been found dead and there would be a news story to follow. The music editor handed that over to news reporter Adam Gabbott, who liaised with the Guardian's newsroom in London.

The Guardian is second only to the BBC in terms of resources invested in covering Glastonbury, with the BBC's dedicated site hosting video on demand and livestreaming bands.

"I think they are doing an excellent job but it lacks critical distance and personality," Llewellyn Smith said, suggesting that is what his team provided.

While in a muddy field, Llewellyn Smith was overseeing another first for the music site, it was streaming live opera from Glyndebourne. It can now be viewed as part of a seven day catchup and has been embedded onto the LA Times site.

So readers could either follow Glastonbury or Glyndebourne and as with the music festival, the Guardian also liveblogged the opera. This prompted a tweet from New York-based journalism professor Jeff Jarvis who said the Guardian was taking liveblogging to an "amusing extreme".

Guardian takes live-blogging to an amusing extreme: chronicling Die Meistersinger. http://bit.ly/iU3o6u Next: live-blogging sunrise?less than a minute ago via Echofon Favorite Retweet Reply

Free daily newsletter

If you like our news and feature articles, you can sign up to receive our free daily (Mon-Fri) email newsletter (mobile friendly).

blog comments powered by Disqus