The benefits of a live-blog

by Mathew on April 30, 2009 · 8 comments

Like a lot of newspapers and media outlets, the paper I work for in Toronto — the Globe and Mail — has been experimenting a lot with a great live-blogging and live-discussion tool called Cover It Live. The software comes from a company located in Toronto, but is being used by everyone from Newsweek and Yahoo to Vanity Fair and the Austin Statesman-Review. We’ve hosted live discussion/news stories involving the Obama inauguration, the NHL hockey trade deadline, federal communication hearings and even a shooting in a Toronto subway station.

One of the big benefits of the software is that it allows you to do so much within the app itself, which is embedded in a story page as a widget via javascript. You can post photos right in the stream, embed video clips and do instant polls — and integrated into all that are comments from readers. You can also pull comments from Twitter, either by approving individual users or by pulling in tweets that use a specific hashtag or keyword related to the topic. The editor or “producer” can see all the comments and moderate them, and the live blog can be archived and replayed.

For large public events such as the Obama inauguration (or the Oscars), there is a very powerful desire to interact with other people who are watching the same event, and Cover It Live makes that very easy and appealing. News updates are interspersed with user comments in a very natural way, and reporters and editors can respond easily. For events such as the NHL trade deadline, several readers asked specific questions of the reporters and columnists who took part, and got answers within minutes — something that simply doesn’t happen with traditional newspaper stories, even online.

(please read the rest of this post at the Nieman Journalism Lab)

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