My live coverage of the Investigative Journalism Goes Global conference seemed to polarise opinion among the Twitterati. The Guardian’s Neil McIntosh and Charles Arthur, the BBC’s Bill Thompson, and Pete Ashton all unsubscribed from my updates – and those were just the ones I know about.
Summed up in two tweets, the debate went something like this:
But was this “liveblogging”? For me, it wasn’t. If I was liveblogging, I’d do it on a blog. Perhaps you could call this livemicroblogging.
Why didn’t I liveblog? Well: been there, done that. Where would be the learning in it? I wanted to experiment with mobile phone journalism, and around the potential conversation that could be had (and that liveblogs don’t do as well) via Twitter. Here were some of the tweets that people sent:
“amonck: @paulbradshaw Little conference reading for you – sorry I can’t make it, shud be some City folk there http://tinyurl.com/69yc3l“amandachapel: @paulbradshaw | De-professionalizing journalism doesn’t just reduce cost, it eliminates the genre.“stevebridger: @paulbradshaw I spent 6 months on www.afterwilma.info – newspaper journos engaged with it. Would use Twitter now“lalorek: @paulbradshaw Yes we do see ourselves as part of the fourth estate. Many of us believe in investigative journalism. Check www.ire.org
Twitter lended the conversation an immediacy and access that liveblog comments simply don’t (although CoverItLive provides a halfway house).
The problem? Twitter wasn’t sending me @replies.
Well, at least it was working at all.
Things fall apart
I love things going wrong. It makes for some very useful lessons. Here are just some:
- @replies were not reaching me – I did tweet this early on but overlooked the fact that not everyone will have seen that tweet. Solution 1: keep asking for direct messages; Solution 2: set up a twitter account taking the RSS feed of a Summize search for @paulbradshaw and feeding that through Twitterfeed. Then subscribe to text messages from that feed. Sadly Twitterfeed restricts you to a maximum of five tweets, only arriving every half hour, so there will be some limit/delay to the conversation.
- The venue had no 3G connection or open wifi, which meant I had no internet or email access even from a mobile phone – so liveblogging was not technically possible anyway (it also meant my hopes of using livestreaming tools Qik or Bambuser bit the dust). Solution: arrange to text a blogger elsewhere.
- Twitter overkill – yes, this must have been bloody annoying for some, and I should have set up yet another separate Twitter account for my live coverage, as Amy Gahran has (thanks Jay Rosen). But if you only have one mobile this runs the risk of you only getting messages directed at one of your Twitter accounts. In that instance, I could rely on my users to just switch me off for a while – perhaps even direct them to Twittersnooze, which will do it for you (thanks Dan Thornton and Jon Bounds).
- I also should have hashtagged the tweets – at the time I decided not to because no one else was covering this, but for those coming into the coverage mid-stream, a tag like #IJGG would have sent a semantic signal that this was part of event coverage.
A final point: it’s well worth investing in a bluetooth keyboard for your mobile phone (no, I didn’t do all of this with my thumbs) – oh, and the ‘Cmd’ button is very useful indeed.
Let me know what you think about live coverage on Twitter – or take the online poll.