On air sign
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A new online studio-based interview programme from the Washington Post called On Background will launch later today on PostTV, with the social media community an "integrated" part of the process.

According to a release, On Background, which launches today at 12.30pm eastern time (5.30pm UK time), will be focused on covering the most "compelling Washington news topics".

Speaking to Journalism.co.uk, senior editor of video Andrew Pergam said discussion will start ahead of the show on social media, with the Post prompting relevant conversation by sending out "a question or a discussion topic" in the morning using the #postback hashtag, to "really get people engaged".

"We might say 'here's some of research we've been doing for today's show, we think it would be interesting if you take a look, read it, you might be even more informed for the discussion that we'll have at 12.30pm'."

The social community may also suggest particular issues to be raised during the show, which may then be reflected in the interviews which take place in the studio setting.

"We really view this show as part of a conversation," Pergam said. "That may already be ongoing, but perhaps it's one that we initiate with people, particularly people who are engaged on Twitter.

"We feel like that's where there seems to be a great amount of dialogue and it's actually a great format for moving topics forward."

The show also plans to engage with online communities on Google+, Facebook and other social networks.

During the show itself the social conversation will continue to be "integrated", Pergam explained, both on the webpage itself, but also through the presenter and producers who will engage with the community on Twitter during the programme.

"The host and the producers for the show will all be online during the show live tweeting the conversation, and where it's appropriate we're going to work to bring those things into the conversation," he said.

"We're taking a very iterative approach. The shows that you'll see three weeks from now are going to be different from the shows you see today or tomorrow. And we'll continue to improve. And that means we're building the website in such a flexible way that if we feel like we need to add this sort of wizard, or this sort of element to the page, we're going to be able to do that in a pretty easy way."

The show is interview-focused and in a studio-style setting. Pergam said interviews will be carried out "in person and via Skype and via the fibre-connection we have on Capitol Hill". He added that the setting for the show is "not meant to feel like a typical news set".

"It's meant to really feel like a conversational place, a place where these sorts of conversations happen."

And these discussions will not end when the show finishes at 1pm either, he added, highlighting "that the conversation is always going on". Additionally, the show will be cut down into clips for people to watch and share on PostTV after the event.

Last month the Post announced the launch of PostTV, described as "The Post’s new online home for video". On Background is one of two new shows to be added to the schedule.

In an announcement at the time the Post said it has "spent the months since [the] initial announcement hiring outstanding journalists, building the technical infrastructure and toiling away at creating compelling shows".

Pergam told Journalism.co.uk that via PostTV, the Post wants "to be the next place for people to watch political video, video from Washington".

"We want people to help better understand the impact of politics and how politics impacts both the nation and the world, and people as individuals.

"The idea behind these shows is to really create new original journalism that is really focused on a web-based audience. People who are used to watching video online, they might be used to what the Washington Post provides online now in terms of text articles and photo galleries and graphics, and we're really adding video to that mix in a way that itself is contained."

He added that PostTV.com aims to be a "very video-centric website".

"We know that more and more people are watching on mobile devices, on tablets, on desktop, on connected TVs and we want to be in all those places with really the best of political video."

Other online news outlets and broadcasters have also launched shows online where social media is central to the content. Al Jazeera English has a programme called The Stream, and HuffPost Live, which launched  just under a year ago, livestreams studio conversations, inviting the audience to get involved.

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