On the treadmill of live blogging

Live blogging is much like jogging. Journalists run along the with a constantly unfolding story, which may speed up, and almost inevitably causes them to break a sweat. Ultimately, live bloggers run with the story, so their readers can catch up. Daniel Hurst (@danielhurstbne) is an experienced blogger, contributing to the flourishing brisbanetimes.com.au live blogging. The Brisbane Times is a purely online publication, which makes live blogging particularly pertinent. He debated that live-blogs can cover political stories/debates, severe weather events, sporting games, business news, elections, commentary on TV shows, Royal commissions/inquiries and riots. It is a technique of reporting that keeps readers instantaneously updated.

Live blogging can be a very lucrative platform for news companies. What makes this so valuable for an online news organisation is that these pages then become “sticky”. This means that people keep the page open and really engage in the events. In fact, the US blogs and networks editor at the Guardian, Matt Wells, said live blogging “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.” The engagement that live blogging provides is evident in Hurst’s coverage of the civil union legislation that was debated in parliament last year. The blog got some 80,000 views and was inundated in comments and social media interaction. This undeniably demonstrates the engagement that results from live blogging. This sentiment is reinforced by firedoglake.com‘s live-blog of the 2007 trials surrounding an ex-staffer of former Vice President Dick Cheney. The New York Times contended that Firedoglake “offered the fullest, fastest public report available. Many mainstream journalists use it to check on the trial.” This embodies the idea that live blogs provide a unique way to harness and involve audiences as their information typifies what is so useful for online journalism. Namely, timeliness, speed and brevity.

However, live blogging has its downfalls. As with most sources of online news the stories can be riddled with inaccuracies and typos in the attempt to produce the news as quickly as possible. The context also may be confusing for a reader if they have not been following a blog since its conception. Hurst said that this can be combated by having key points at the top of every blog. In addition, journalists do not have much time to research or form an angle, which could debateable be to the detriment of the story. Also, the conversational style of blogging can be considered unprofessional. As Jody Raynsford of journalism.co.uk said live blogs “are opinionated, ranting, often incoherent and frequently biased with little regard for accuracy or balance. They are also compellingly addictive and threatening to emerge as a new brand of journalism.”

Conclusively, while live-blogs are not infallible, it is clear that they have benefits that reap dividends for news organisations. They are wildly engaging and capitalise on the speed that the internet provides. So if online journalists are yet to jump on the treadmill of live blogging, they better catch up.

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