Jigsha Desai: How our Web coverage of Bonnaroo has changed through the years

Visuals editor Jigsha Desai, left, photographer Adam Brimer and reporter Hayes Hickman make up the News Sentinel's Bonnaroo coverage team.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Visuals editor Jigsha Desai, left, photographer Adam Brimer and reporter Hayes Hickman make up the News Sentinel's Bonnaroo coverage team.

By the time you read this column, I will be packing up gear from my Murfreesboro hotel and getting ready for my last visit this year to the Bonnaroo campgrounds in Manchester, Tenn. Photographer Adam Brimer, reporter Hayes Hickman and I will have spent the past three days covering the music festival — now in its 11th year.

The News Sentinel’s coverage of the music and arts festival in Middle Tennessee has changed a lot in the past decade.

Photographer Saul Young and former News Sentinel reporter Bryan Mitchell checked out the festival in 2002 — its inaugural year. The following year, Michael Flannagan visited the campgrounds with Young. Stories, photos and one or two entries exclusive to the Web were the norm.

In 2004, music reporter Wayne Bledsoe and Young headed to the dusty farm where they shared their experiences on blogs called “Wayne Blogsoe” and “Saul at Bonnaroo.” A year later assistant visuals editor Lauren Spuhler joined the team, giving our online coverage a boost.

Spuhler shared photos and snippets of the scene in a Bonnaroo blog. She experimented with podcasts, took photos for a Web gallery and created video profiles of concertgoers with hidden talents — Bonnaroo Idol. In 2007 she started a Twitter account as part of her coverage, sending tweets via SMS. We snagged the Twitter handle @bonnaroo, which was readily available at the time. We sent tweets as @bonnaroo for a while until the Bonnaroo organizers contacted us and claimed their handle. We gave them @bonnaroo and are now known as @bonnaroonews.

Spuhler embraced the upgrades of prosumer technology that boomed in the mid 2000s. She posted a lot more video and tweeted away from the festival. Her followers were enthusiastic and she arranged tweet-ups.

Last year, I took the coverage reins from Spuhler. I had the luck of attending a photo manager workshop a few months before the festival so was armed with some fun apps on my iPhone that I wanted to try out. I used a little point-and-shoot camera to take video and used my iPhone for photography. Armed with an Owle Bubo device (basically a lens attachment for a phone) I snapped, tagged and uploaded away. I took panoramic images with the phone and also shared photos via Instagram.

The most thrilling part of the process was uploading photos just moments after they were taken. I loved seeing the instant retweets of my coverage and the real-time engagement.

This year, in addition to our usual Web coverage plans on Twitter and Facebook, I will have posted a lot of photos to Instagram and Tumblr via my iPhone. Videos will be posted to YouTube. Our traditional stories and photo galleries will continue to be posted to www.knoxville.com.

Welcome to our new, mobile world of coverage.

Jigsha Desai may be reached at desaij@knoxnews.com. Read the #trending blog at http://knoxnews.tumblr.com.

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