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Mike DuBose from United Methodist Communications and David Stucke of the Dakotas Annual Conference capture moments digitally during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

Mike DuBose from United Methodist Communications and David Stucke of the Dakotas Annual Conference capture moments digitally during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Oregon.

Tim Tanton, executive director of Global Voices, News and Information for United Methodist Communications, works during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Oregon. Interpreter editor Kathy Noble watches the live broadcast of the plenary sessions from the newsroom. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

Tim Tanton, executive director of Global Voices, News and Information for United Methodist Communications, works during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Oregon. Interpreter editor Kathy Noble watches the live broadcast of the plenary sessions from the newsroom.

The newsroom of the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Ore. is a busy place with journalists covering sessions. In the center is Kathy L. Gilbert, reporter for United Methodist News Service. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

The newsroom of the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Oregon, is a busy place with journalists covering sessions. In the center is Kathy L. Gilbert, reporter for United Methodist News Service. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Inside the production truck, United Methodist Communications' Andrew Jensen works with the live camera angles videotaping the plenary floor of the 2016 United Methodist General Conference. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

Inside the production truck, United Methodist Communications' Andrew Jensen works with the live camera angles videotaping the plenary floor of the 2016 United Methodist General Conference.

Isaac Broune and Joe Tueche Ndzulo handle the French desk during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications

Isaac Broune and Joe Tueche Ndzulo handle the French desk during the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Oregon.

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Newsroom brings General Conference’s story to the world

By Tim Tanton
June 8, 2016 | PORTLAND, Oregon (UMNS)

When nearly 900 delegates gathered for the 2016 General Conference, United Methodist News Service provided comprehensive coverage of their work, connecting the church’s top lawmaking assembly with people around the world.

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Newsroom of the 2016 United Methodist General Conference in Portland, Oregon. Kathy L. Gilbert (center) is a UMNS reporter. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

UMNS, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, collaborated with other colleagues and communicators from the church to ensure highlights and business of General Conference were reported quickly, objectively and thoroughly.

The communications hub of the event was the General Conference Newsroom in Portland’s Oregon Convention Center. The newsroom hosted more than 100 conference communicators and provided the base for United Methodist Communications staff who were responsible for video production, live streaming, audio coverage, public relations and photography in addition to news coverage.

The newsroom reached a global audience, producing content in French, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese, Swahili and English. UMNS reports provided essential information for the German-language coverage of General Conference.

Hispanic/Latino, Korean/Asian, French and Portuguese desks interviewed delegates, bishops and other church leaders on-site, connecting their work with constituents around the world via online news postings, social media and e-newsletters. The newsroom also included a Native Peoples Desk that provided stories with primarily Native American angles.

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Mike DuBose (United Methodist Communications) and David Stucke (Dakotas Annual Conference) capture moments during the GC2016. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

News from General Conference went out via SMS texting to users in Africa and the Philippines, through a partnership with the Information and Communications Technology for Development Team at United Methodist Communications.

The UMNS team also organized and distributed hundreds of stories by conference and agency communicators, including a story on each daily sermon. UMNS produced about eight stories a day in English, and it added two special Saturday editions to its Daily Digest. Readers who only wanted the highlights could find that in a daily wrap-up story that was widely used in multiple languages. Stories that developed and changed throughout the day were updated with each new development.

The newsroom’s Photo Team captured every session of General Conference, as well as shooting related events that happened around the edges of the assembly, such as rallies, celebrations and receptions.

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Inside the production truck, United Methodist Communications' Andrew Jensen directs live cameras on the plenary floor. Photo by Kathleen Barry, United Methodist Communications.

An audio team produced a steady stream of podcast and radio-ready reports and features. The team was staffed by skilled conference communicators working with United Methodist Communications staff.

Collaboration was a key part of the newsroom’s daily operation. UMNS convened a news meeting each morning attended by conference and general agency communicators, staff with the Daily Christian Advocate, and bloggers and other credentialed media. At this meeting, participants shared ideas and information, and coordinated plans for covering the event.

UMCom’s InfoServ team was an on-site resource for the communicators and church members seeking information about General Conference or The United Methodist Church.The Public Information Team at United Methodist Communications convened regular press briefings with newsmakers at General Conference.

The newsroom itself remained open until 10 p.m. each day, serving as a resource for communicators and UMCom staff who worked late to tell the stories of General Conference.

Tim Tanton is Executive Director, Global Voices, News and Information at United Methodist Communications. For more information, you may contact the news desk at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.