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Thursday, April 10, 2008

The pros and cons of live-blogging news

This piece from The Poynter Institute in the US looks at the pros and cons of reporters live-blogging from events and story locations.

Under the headline Live Blogging: How It Makes Us Better Journalists, Mallary Jean Tanore talks to a number of journalists who have live-blogged at one time or another, either using their regular blogs or micro-blogging formats like Twitter, which allows you to post just 140 characters at a time.

AP reporter Ben Walker... is one of many journalists who have found that live blogging can actually help us grow as storytellers - by teaching us to look for quirky details and be better listeners, note takers and deadline writers.

"Your powers of observation are doubled and tripled when you live blog," Walker said. "You see things and look for things that you would not not look for in a story. You might look at a situation in a different way, and you might listen for a different type of quote."

Another of those quoted is graphic artist Charles Apple, with The Virginian-Pilot, who has been live blogging at conferences since the 2005 Society for News Design's annual workshop in Houston.
He's been told he makes live blogging look easy."That's definitely not the case. Blogging is a lot of hard work. You're typing narrative, uploading photos, doing some light coding," Apple said. "It's difficult to do all this and a.) remain engaged in whatever session is going on, and b.) without distracting anyone sitting near you."

For Apple, live blogging has taken instant gratification to a whole new level. He's intoxicated, he says, by the immediacy of it all. "I thought I was in love with the idea of drawing a graphic and then seeing it in print five hours later. And for 20 years plus, I was," Apple said.

"But forget all that! I can type up a few talking points about a speaker behind the podium, snap a few photos and upload a nice post about her presentation so folks around the world can read about it -- all before she's even done speaking.

"Once you get that kick, you find yourself hungry to do it again. And again."