The Web Car is a Fiat 500L car, equipped with a satellite dish. It provides WiFi and newsroom connectivity creating an operational base for reporters covering an event. La Stampa‘s journalists will drive it around Italy for reporting on events both large and small as well as collecting readers’ voices. The project is a result of a partnership between La Stampa, Fiat – which donated the vehicle – and Eutelsat, which provides the technology.
The car is always connected to La Stampa‘s integrated newsroom, launched a year ago, when the paper moved its editorial operations to EidosMedia’s Méthode. The cross-channel publishing platform is used by all of the company’s publication channels – from print to web, tablet and smartphones – from a common editorial workflow, allowing the staff to work from the same platform, tailoring the articles for each publication medium.
To show that the Web Car is part of the new innovative and integrated course undertaken by La Stampa, a stylised copy of the concentric layout of the new newsroom – re-engineered last year together with the move to Méthode and of the paper’s headquarters – is displayed on the side of the car.
The Web Car is not just for work during emergencies, in fact its official debut was during the 70th Film Festival in Venice in September, where it help provide coverage of those on the red carpet.
Marco Bardazzi, Digital Editor at La Stampa, gave us some insights into the project and explained how the Web Car is taking journalism on the road.
WAN-IFRA: Italy is still very much tied to tradition when it comes to journalism. How can a traditional newspaper like La Stampa bridge legacy and innovation?
Bardazzi: In the present debate about the future of news and newspapers we realized that one of the most important duties for a traditional, mainstream newspaper with years of history behind it, like La Stampa, is to act as an incubator for innovation.
With the aim of being a catalyst for journalism innovation we launched MediaLab,our “studio” where we experiment with new ways of digital storytelling. The Web Car is one of the main projects of the MediaLab, and it gives us a potential we didn’t have before. More than just a roving newsroom, it is satellite enabled WiFi hotspot that within 15 minutes allows us to report in live stream. The Web Car is equipped with everything our journalists could need to cover an event. In case of a natural catastrophe, it could also be used as a WiFi hotspot to connect the population.
Why did you choose the name Web Car?
The technical name would be Car Sat, a satellite car, but for us it is the right tool to do journalism on the web, to work in connection with the website.
What is MediaLab exactly? How many staff are dedicated to it?
MediaLab is not a foreign body to the newsroom. We have been working on print/digital convergence for almost three years now and when the new headquarters launched one year ago, we took a big step forward, creating a place where everyone does a bit of everything, even if at different levels. The publishing platform Méthode allows all journalists to work in the same editorial ambient, whether they are writing for the print edition or the digital one, and it improves the workflow. With this basis it’s easier to allow everyone to work on the most innovative projects. We have journalists with let’s say a traditional background who are now working on data journalism and multimedia projects. At the same time we bring in a breath of fresh air with journalists entering the profession now, with new ideas, new skills. We’re committed to get ‘corrupted’ by the outside. We work in conjunction with a small team of journalists, graphic designers, web designers, to work on data journalism projects, that collaborates with La Stampa journalists. We’re experimenting more and more between traditional and innovative journalism.”
Bardazzi also noted that several improvements to the Web Car will be added soon – amongst which is a drone that will allow them to do aerial shooting.
La Stampa is one of WAN-IFRA‘s main partners for the 2014 World Newspaper Congress, World Editors Forum and World Advertising Forum, which take place in Torino, Italy, from 9 to 11 June 2014.