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May 27 2011


#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.


LIVE: Final session – Is liveblogging rewriting journalism? #newsrw

We have Matt Caines and Ben Whitelaw from Wannabe Hacks liveblogging for us at news:rewired all day. You can follow final session ‘Is live-blogging rewriting journalism?’, below.

Final session features:Matt Wells, blogs editor, the Guardian; Paul Gallagher, head of online content, the Manchester Evening News; Anna Doble, social media producer, Channel4 News; Alan Marshall, head of digital production, Press Association. Moderated by Marcus Warren, editor, Telegraph.co.uk.

May 24 2011


Ch4 News: ‘We are committed to challenging expectations and we like to add a touch of mischief’

This post is by Anna Doble, social media producer at Channel 4 News and a site editor for channel4.com/news. She will be on the panel for the liveblogging session at news:rewired. Here she talks about Channel 4 News’ approach to liveblogging and social media.

Liveblogging is enhancing the journalistic process at Channel 4 News. “Rewriting” might suggest the liveblog format is replacing other content. It isn’t. It adds value to the work of our correspondents, both on the TV programme and online.

The core values of Channel 4 News remain the same. We make news for people that want to know “why?”. We are committed to challenging expectations and we like to add a touch of mischief. Our programme goes out at 7pm, so the liveblog format means we can break news and engage viewers throughout the day, in the run-up to the show. And liveblogs – plus social media in general – enable us to treat our audience as a resource as well as a consumer.

We stepped up our social media presence ahead of the 2010 general election with the goal of creating more meaningful interaction between viewers and correspondents. Social media is a fantastic fit for Channel 4 News for two key reasons. Firstly, we know our viewers want more than a quick news hit – they like analysis, commentary, discussion around news – and social media provides a forum for that. Secondly, our onscreen team have very distinct personalities – recognition of Jon Snow and Krishnan Guru-Murthy in particular is actually disproportionate compared to other news programmes. Because of this, and because we allow those characters to come through in the programme, it means people want to engage with them beyond the 7pm bulletin. Whether that is asking Jon about his tie, or asking Krishnan which are the best new iPad apps, our viewers have an access point.

Jon Snow launched his Twitter profile for the election and, along with Krishnan, he now acts as a social media “hub” for our many accounts – from @channel4news to @FactCheck. We also redesigned our website to make it more social media-centric. The correspondent blogs physically frame the homepage and readers can post comments on Twitter of Facebook directly from the site. We wanted our website to act like a community in its own right – and pulling in live blogs and feeds from social media mean the site always contains up-to-the minute reaction in real time.

We’re working on integrating more video into the blogs – not just the polished packages that go out in the programme, but newsroom vlogs and on-the-spot analysis. A good example is our Budget liveblog which contained newsroom video inserts from Economics Editor Faisal Islam and Business Correspondent Siobhan Kennedy.

We have worked hard to get all of our correspondents and reporters onto social media platforms. Their individual areas of knowledge and skill feed into our news meetings and we hope this sense of “ideas exchange” is replicated to the wider audience via social media. We advise journalists to be themselves, mixing their own journalism with observations about the big issues of the day.

We know that the key to engaging audiences through social media is authenticity, so we’ve never “approved” tweets before publication – or enforced strict rules. Obviously, it is important that we protect our reputation for impartial, independent journalism – so we have a common sense policy which amounts to “if you wouldn’t say it on air, don’t say it online”.

Image by by Martin on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

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