Live Blogging

According to Daniel Hurst, a journalist with the Brisbane Times, live blogging is something new and exclusive to online journalism. Hurst told my Online Journalism class that although live blogs will not work for every situation, when a news story is rapidly unfolding live blogging allows audiences to keep up-to-date and keeps them interested.

Live blogging involves providing short updates on a continuous news story, rather than a structured news article. Updates can be fuelled by social media, to illustrate the public’s reaction to the unfolding event. Also, live blogs may be interactive, and link to other articles.

The advantages of live blogging include:

  • Live blogs make it easier for interested readers to follow an unfolding event, by providing bite-sized updates as opposed to a standard news story that has been updated or tweaked.
  • It is easier to write short, sharp updates than trying to rewrite lead paragraphs as the event goes on.
  • Live blogs are “sticky”, meaning that instead of reading a story then leaving the site, interested readers will keep the page open, which helps build and maintain a website’s audience.

However, there are downsides. Some of these are:

  • Typos can slip in easily; in a typical situation, one person may be writing updates and then publishing those updates immediately. Typos make the journalist look less credible.
  • Context may be lost for a person who comes to the live blog for the first time after many updates have already been filed. This makes the layout and order of the live blog especially important.
  • The journalist doesn’t have much time to think deeply about the unfolding events and provide the traditional journalistic scrutiny of claims being made.
  • Live blogging only works if there are a lot of developments to document.

Despite these downsides, Hurst believes live blogging is likely to become even more prevalent, multimedia rich and reader-friendly.

“The best elements of live blogging – how it is so transparent about sources, how it dispenses with false journalistic fripperies and embraces the audience – are so strong that, rather than foretelling the death of journalism, the live blog is surely the embodiment of its future.”

Matt Wells, The Guardian

Have a look at this live blog, which followed Barrack Obama’s campaign rally on 2nd September, ten days ago.

What I like about this live blog is that it is written well, in the grammar/spelling/sentence structure sense. However, look at the size of each update! Definitely not ‘bite-sized’. The amount of time between each post is also frustrating – on average, there is 45 minutes between updates. Consider: how many people are going to follow a news story from 7:35am to 2:09pm? Not many, is the answer.

I’m also curious at to what went on between the post at 1:44pm

President Barrack Obama has taken the stage with a “Hello Colorado! Go Buffs!” welcome.

and the post at 2:09pm

President Barack Obama wraps up campaign speech on University of Colorado’s Boulder campus to strains of Bruce Springsteen.

The Obama campaign reports that 13,000 people attended the rally.

What did Obama say in his speech? How did the crowd react? Who knows!

Now have a look at this live blog, which covered Apple announcing the launch of the iPhone 5 at 1:20pm this afternoon.

This live blog was updated every couple of minutes, and the photos really round of the story. I also love how the journalist has added in their own commentary, which is what a live blog should do. He proclaims the name EarBuds “dorky”, says he “can’t wait to check out” certain features, and adds some light-hearted humour to the story.

In my opinion, the second blog is clearly the better of the two (and hopefully Daniel Hurst would agree!).

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