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June 27 2011

20:25

Short form, and updates every minute - Can liveblogging be monetized?

Journalism.co.uk :: Liveblogging platform ScribbleLive claims to have come up with four different ways that news organisations can make money from liveblogging, a form of reporting described by Matt Wells, blogs editor of the Guardian, as “native to the internet”. Liveblogging is a format that enables live coverage of events and breaking news stories. The article length is usually less than 300 words and updates are published within minutes.

Is it possible to make money with liveblogging? "Yes," says ScribbleLive.

It is interesting how incredibly sticky the liveblog audience is, particularly for true liveblogs that are updated minute by minute,Mark Walker from ScribbleLive, told Journalism.co.uk. With people staying for a long time, some for half an hour or more, and ad rotation at a rate of one per minute it is easier to generate a higher CPM.

Four ways to monetize liveblogging - continue to read Sarah Marshall, blogs.journalism.co.uk

May 27 2011

17:53

#newsrw: ‘It’s almost as if the liveblog is the new home page’


Far from being the death of journalism, it is almost as if the liveblog is the new home page if it central to the coverage signposts to the rest of the coverage, according to Matt Wells, blogs editor of the Guardian.

Liveblogs are Twitter for people not on Twitter, panelists agreed in the fourth and final session at news:rewired – noise to signal, who demonstrated that liveblogging has not been killed by Twitter, as has been claimed.

Matt Wells, blogs editors, the Guardian responded to criticism that suggested journalism should only follow the the tried and tested format of a news story.

The inverted triangle is the single reason why journalism is so mistrusted and the search for the top line encourages sensationalism, Wells said

Liveblogs are good for stories that don’t have a beginning and an end, Wells explained, and cited the example of Hosni Mubarak’s resignation from the Egyptian presidency.

“Liveblogs can’t be printed, you can’t broadcast them on television or on a radio station. They only work on a digital screen.

“It’s the only format that has developed specifically for the digital media,” Wells said.

He responded to Tim Montgomery’s claim that “Twitter has killed live blogging,” giving this as a reason for not live blogging the AV vote.

So what is next for the Guardian’s live blogs? Wells said the team is working on ways to better signpost liveblogs, better navigation and to make it “easier to get out of if you don’t want to be there”.

Users want to read a live blog in different ways.

“Show me it from the start, show me it form the latest post, show me the best posts,” is what Wells is hearing from readers.

Alan Marshall, head of digital production at the Press Association, said liveblogging is bridging the gap between the PA wire service and other products

“It’s a natural extension of what PA has been doing for a long time,” he said.

PA uses ScribbleLive and reporters can file via Twitter, email, smartphone, which interact with the CMS.

Marshall used a liveblog of the Royal Wedding as an example and one he described as “a real watershed for PA”.

PA’s Royal Wedding liveblog was used by its customers, including Yahoo and Newsquest, both companies were able to integrate their own users content and comments onto their sites.

Reporters sent reports, including observations filed by Twitter, and the “the bits that don’t make the wire”.

Paul Gallagher, Manchester Evening News, explained how the MEN started liveblogging with an English Defence League rally in 2009. It received 3,000 comments and gratitude from readers for the information.

MEN has produced 30 liveblogs during the past 18 months, including reporting from all council meetings, and some liveblogs have resulted in a spike in web traffic, including the Manchester City parade celebrating its recent FA cup win.

“Every single person in our newsroom live blogs,” Gallagher explained.

As well as being popular, liveblogs result in people spending longer on the site which has led to people requesting for email alerts giving “the potential for a better profile of our audience”, he said.

Anna Doble, social media producer, Channel 4 News, gave the example of liveblogging the budget including a video comment of Faisal Islam from his desk, surrounded by piles of paper and not in a suit, who gave analysis while chancellor George Osborne was still on his feet.

The liveblog also included the “real person on the street” by inviting a carer, a mother and a student to post.

Doble also discussed liveblog following the death Osama bin Laden, and how it made use of the huge video resource of Channel 4 News.

She demonstrated increased audience engagement explaining that a farmer living near Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan contacted Jon Snow via Twitter and is now a regular contributor providing updates now the journalists have left the scene of the news story.

December 17 2010

15:46

ScribbleLive to open up syndication so freelancers can earn for liveblogging

Liveblogging platform ScribbleLive is to open up its syndication marketplace to allow freelancers to get paid for creating content for its clients.

ScribbleLive founder Michael De Monte (pictured) said the syndication marketplace, which will launch next year, will allow individuals who sign up to its freelancers’ plan to make money when they are covering or talking about live events online.

ScribbleLive already has a syndication marketplace for large organisations like Thomson Reuters and they plan to extend this service to other paying subscribers.

Speaking at news:rewired, De Monte said the product would help media organisations to cover breaking news from all over the world.

“You can’t be every place, every time,” he said. “Hopefully there will be a journalist producing that content and it can go into system.”

De Monte said that information from liveblogs had been used by Canadian emergency services to update transport users about road closures during a snowstorm.

Other uses of ScribbleLive include the Canadian sports website TheScore, which designated a “superfan” for each team and gave them responsibility to curate real time action from matches.

The syndication market will be opened in January or February next year along with another piece of technology designed to bridge the gap between real time content and a more polished finished project

In the same session Martin Stabe, interactive producer at FT.com said there was still a need for specialists. Channel 4 News commissioning editor Vicky Taylor agreed, adding that one-size-fits-all doesn’t work. “It would be lovely if it did,” she said.

But Jonathan Richards of the Times’ data teams said you can learn coding quickly if you have to. Coming from a background in print journalism, he could not write a single line of HTML until he joined the team two years ago, he told the audience.

November 03 2010

21:28

Canadian Murder Trial a Crucible for Real-Time Coverage

Late last month in a Canadian courtroom, Russell Williams, a former high-ranking colonel in the Canadian military, pleaded guilty to the murders of two young women as well as 86 counts of break and enter, sexual assault and other crimes. His sentencing hearing was widely covered by major Canadian media. Here, Canadian online journalism professor Robert Washburn explains how journalists tackled the story, in real-time.

Using social media in journalism is like watching lightning. It can be explained as a physical phenomenon using the laws of physics. Scientists study it and forecast when it will happen. But nobody can predict where it will hit. Nobody can predict the results. More than anything else, nobody can make it hit the same spot twice.

Social media played a significant role during the Russell Williams hearing, as it became a news ticker from inside the courtroom, sharing vivid, often disturbing details of his crimes.

More and more, newsrooms are recognizing the importance of the use of social media like Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and so forth. The American Journalism Review in March reported the influx of social media editors working with citizen journalists, engaging audiences. NYTimes.com and CNN.com, for example, experienced a 300 percent increase in unique visitors via these media.

Yet, social media continues to confound those who want to see reproducible results. Social media is viral and uncontrolled; messages get reworked, reshaped and retweeted, as Toronto Star columnist Antonia Zerbisias pointed out in her post-G20 analysis of the use of Twitter during the protests in Toronto in June.

Robert Picard, a fellow at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at the University of Oxford, said it best in a recent article in Nieman Reports.

"So this may not be the ideal time to suggest that the social media landscape is continuing to be transformed in ways that journalists and news organizations will find confounding," he wrote.

Already there are analyses starting, looking into the ethical dimensions of the use of Twitter during the Williams hearing. It will be up to the media ethicists and other scholars to dissect the content and provide analysis. This article is meant to be an early examination of the role of social media technology and the lessons learned for future applications in journalism.

BlackBerry Ban Lifted

Immediately, it is important to understand the unique context of the Williams hearing. First, a judge lifted a BlackBerry ban and allowed reporters to bring laptop computers and smartphones into the courtroom. This is not always the case in Canada, and is determined by each judge for each case. Hence, this was unusual.

These tools allowed instant communication with the newsroom. It also gave reporters the ability to instantly publish what was going on. Twitter was a popular tool, as some organizations allowed reporters to post to individual accounts or to use aggregator technology like CoveritLive, where a number of reporters, commentators and editors were presenting a stream of information via text and images.

The content was very raw in some instances, as reporters became stenographers, passing along details with little -- if any -- context or forethought. Twitter technology constrains journalists in this manner, according to Mark Walker, business team leader at Toronto-based real-time content management system ScribbleLive. For one thing, he said in an email to me, messages are limited to 140 characters. It's also push technology, meaning the audience subscribes and then automatically receives information. It is unedited, unauthenticated and unverified, he argued, breaking three of the major protocols of good journalism.

Sure, the contents of the hearing were compelling. Certainly, there were members of the audience and journalists who found the content repulsive. Still, the way crown attorney (prosecutor) Lee Burgess walked the judge through the evidence, building layer upon layer of detailed evidence, made a word-for-word reporting pretty enticing. This, in turn, became more shocking as it unfolded. It was a challenge for journalists to stop and use news judgment due to the momentum created by this legal strategy. The evidence was presented in such a way as to create a very dramatic narrative as the nature of the crimes and violence escalated. While the technology made it easy to publish, the content smoothed the process as well. Neither the technology nor the news media needed to add anything to make this case sensational. It was inherently sensational.

Beyond Social Media

The high news value of the Williams hearing meant additional resources were given to the coverage. And the technology went beyond social media. While some reporters were alone in the courtroom, platforms like CoveritLive allowed editors and other journalists to contribute to the information stream. Reporters back in the newsroom included contextual background, uploaded photo galleries and provided filler when the streams were slow. In the courtroom, illustrators uploaded their drawings directly to the newsroom's live feed. CoveritLive also enabled news organizations to incorporate what readers and other Twitter and social media users were saying.

Screen shot 2010-11-03 at 1.34.51 PM.png

In other cases, CoveritLive was used to hold live, interactive chats with audiences to discuss aspects of the trial. For example, the CBC invited trauma specialists and psychotherapists to discuss the impact of the trial.

Another factor was the high public interest in the case. The coverage of the murders, the investigation, the arrest and the pre-hearing reporting laid the foundation for a large audience seeking more information. Social media was a good channel for audiences because it allowed them to follow details instantly and from anywhere.

Expect To Be Confounded

Twitter is useful to journalists as a form of news ticker, a steady stream of information for audiences. It is good at letting people know up-to-the-minute what is going on in the format of short snippets. But the use of CoveritLive by the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and CBC (and ScribbleLive by the National Post), among others, mitigated some of the issues raised by using Twitter alone.

In these cases several techniques were used. For example the blending of several Twitter feeds provided varied points of view. In other cases, Twitter messages were combined with other journalists and experts outside the courtroom and in the newsroom, who were able to provide context, images and other information. This added context in some cases and other perspectives, as well. It also made for a single delivery platform for audiences, giving them one channel to receive a wide range of information.

Toronto Star reporter Joanna Smith, who distinguished herself as one of the better Twittering reporters in the country when she used the platform to report from Haiti, was quoted by her own paper in a story about using Twitter to cover the hearing.

Screen shot 2010-11-03 at 1.26.24 PM.png

"The immediacy of Twitter has a power that both news consumers and journalists are still getting used to harnessing,'' she said. "I think of my tweets from Haiti and how crafting a single 140-character tweet that worked as a complete narrative had a power that gave me chills, sometimes, in a way that the same amount of text in a newspaper story would not. I think many of my followers felt the same way about it. I think the same dynamics are at play here, but the content is so graphic that almost any tweet can blow someone away. We have to respect that, and work hard to check and balance ourselves accordingly."

Is Twitter a useful tool for journalists? No doubt. And, should journalists continue to use social media? Of course. But, as Picard rightly said, we must expect to be confounded. What is most important is journalists should be free to experiment with these new technologies. The Williams hearing was an important crucible to test the use of social media in news coverage in Canada.

We are in a period where innovation can happen spontaneously. New standards are yet to be formed. Journalists must remain open to the possibilities. Still, it should never be viewed as predictable or controllable. Like lightning, journalists will need to understand it, but also stand back and watch.

Prof. Robert Washburn instructs in the new Journalism: Online, Print and Broadcast program at Loyalist College in Ontario, Canada, where he teaches the uses of new technologies in journalism. He is the innovation editor for J-Source.ca, where he launched the Canadian Hyperlocal Journalism Project aimed at building resources to assist those interested in this emerging area. He has worked for more than 25 years as a journalist in newspapers, magazines and radio, and was the first post-secondary educator in Canada to teach in Second Life.

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