Tag Archives: Sky

The strikes and the rise of the liveblog

Liveblogging the strikes: Twitter's #n30 stream

Liveblogging the strikes: Twitter's #n30 stream

Today sees the UK’s biggest strike in decades as public sector workers protest against pension reforms. Most news organisations are covering the day’s events through liveblogs: that web-native format which has so quickly become the automatic choice for covering rolling news.

To illustrate just how dominant the liveblog has become take a look at the BBCChannel 4 News, The Guardian’s ‘Strikesblog‘ or The TelegraphThe Independent’s coverage is hosted on their own live.independent.co.uk subdomain while Sky have embedded their liveblog in other articles. There’s even a separate Storify liveblog for The Guardian’s Local Government section, and on Radio 5 Live you can find an example of radio reporters liveblogging.

Regional newspapers such as the Chronicle in the north east and the Essex County Standard are liveblogging the local angle; while the Huffington Post liveblog the political face-off at Prime Minister’s Question Time and the PoliticsHome blog liveblogs both. Leeds Student are liveblogging too. And it’s not just news organisations: campaigning organisation UK Uncut have their own liveblog, as do the public sector workers union UNISON and Pensions Justice (on Tumblr).

So dominant so quickly

The format has become so dominant so quickly because it satisfies both editorial and commercial demands: liveblogs are sticky – people stick around on them much longer than on traditional articles, in the same way that they tend to leave the streams of information from Twitter or Facebook on in the background of their phone, tablet or PC – or indeed, the way that they leave on 24 hour television when there are big events.

It also allows print outlets to compete in the 24-hour environment of rolling news. The updates of the liveblog are equivalent to the ‘time-filling’ of 24-hour television, with this key difference: that updates no longer come from a handful of strategically-placed reporters, but rather (when done well) hundreds of eyewitnesses, stakeholders, experts, campaigners, reporters from other news outlets, and other participants.

The results (when done badly) can be more noise than signal – incoherent, disconnected, fragmented. When done well, however, a good liveblog can draw clarity out of confusion, chase rumours down to facts, and draw multiple threads into something resembling a canvas.

At this early stage liveblogging is still a form finding its feet. More static than broadcast, it does not require the same cycle of repetition; more dynamic than print, it does, however, demand regular summarising.

Most importantly, it takes place within a network. The audience are not sat on their couches watching a single piece of coverage; they may be clicking between a dozen different sources; they may be present at the event itself; they may have friends or family there, sending them updates from their phone. If they are hearing about something important that you’re not addressing, you have a problem.

The list of liveblogs above demonstrates this particularly well, and it doesn’t include the biggest liveblog of all: the #n30 thread on Twitter (and as Facebook users we might also be consuming a liveblog of sorts of our friends’ updates).

More than documenting

In this situation the journalist is needed less to document what is taking place, and more to build on the documentation that is already being done: by witnesses, and by other journalists. That might mean aggregating the most important updates, or providing analysis of what they mean. It might mean enriching content by adding audio, video, maps or photography. Most importantly, it may mean verifying accounts that hold particular significance.

Liveblogging: adding value to the network

Liveblogging: adding value to the network

These were the lessons that I sought to teach my class last week when I reconstructed an event in the class and asked them to liveblog it (more in a future blog post). Without any briefing, they made predictable (and planned) mistakes: they thought they were there purely to document the event.

But now, more than ever, journalists are not there solely to document.

On a day like today you do not need to be journalist to take part in the ‘liveblog’ of #n20. If you are passionate about current events, if you are curious about news, you can be out there getting experience in dealing with those events – not just reporting them, but speaking to the people involved, recording images and audio to enrich what is in front of you, creating maps and galleries and Storify threads to aggregate the most illuminating accounts. Seeking reaction and verification to the most challenging ones.

The story is already being told by hundreds of people, some better than others. It’s a chance to create good journalism, and be better at it. I hope every aspiring journalist takes it, and the next chance, and the next one.

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Kay Burley. Discuss.

Some say that journalism students should simply be taught how to ‘do’ journalism rather than spending time analysing or reflecting on it. On Saturday Sky’s Kay Burley showed why it’s not that simple – when she berated someone demonstrating in favour of electoral reform (skip to around 2 mins in):

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELJh2bTK1ew%5D

This, and the copious other clips from a career history of walking a fine line (many say crossing it), are a goldmine for lecturers and journalism students – particularly when it comes to discussing broadcast journalism technique, ethics, and regulation.

It helps students to look at their own journalistic practice and ask: in trying to please my bosses or meet an idea of what makes ‘good television’, am I crossing a line? How do the likes of Jeremy Paxman manage to dig behind a story without losing impartiality, or becoming the story themselves (do they manage it?) What, indeed, is the purpose of journalism, and how does that carry through into my practice?

Journalism is easy. You don’t need to study it for 3 years to do it. You don’t need a piece of paper to practise it.

But professional journalism is also the exercise of power – “Power without responsibility,” as the quote has it (which continues: “the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages”). We expect to scrutinise politicians and hold them to certain ethical standards yet cry foul when the same scrutiny is applied to us. Studying journalism – while doing it – should be about accepting that responsibility and thinking about what it entails. And then doing it better.

So: Kay Burley. Discuss.

UK general election 2010 – online journalism is ordinary

Has online journalism become ordinary? Are the approaches starting to standardise? Little has stood out in the online journalism coverage of this election – the innovation of previous years has been replaced by consolidation.

Here are a few observations on how the media approached their online coverage: Continue reading

UK General Election 2010 – Interactive Maps and Swingometers

Tony Hirst takes a look at how different news websites are using interactivity to present different possibilities in the UK election. This post is cross-posted from the OUseful.Info blog:

So it seems like the General Election has been a Good Thing for the news media’s interactive developer teams… Here’s a quick round up of some of the interactives I’ve found… Continue reading

What happened when Sky News took images from Twitter

Holy crap police man shot at Southwark tube station! on Twitpic

When Sky News needed a picture to illustrate a shooting at Waterloo Station, they found what they needed on Twitter: a photo of the crime scene taken by Joe Neale and posted to Twitter using Twitpic (used above, with permission).

Just one problem: they didn’t bother to tell Joe. Continue reading

Who links to the report they’re reporting on?

This week the UK government released a report into social mobility. While mainstream reporting focused mainly on the broad picture, I wanted to read the original government report itself. Which publishers linked to it?

I’ve written and spoken extensively on the importance of linking, but it comes down to 2 core reasons:

Firstly, Google will rank a page more highly if it includes more outgoing links.

Secondly, people will return to your site more often if they know they can expect useful links.

So, get your act together, please what are news organisations doing to address this?

BBC Future of Journalism conference day 2: more reflections (part 1)

The more interesting of the sessions at the BBC’s Future of Journalism conference came on the second day.

Head of BBC Newsroom Peter Horrocks spent most of his session fielding questions from employees concerned about how their particular corner of the corporation would be affected by multimedia newsrooms. That aside, general themes from his presentation and responses to questions included:

  • a need for a broader range of skills, such as information design and software development
  • While strong single-platform performers will be encouraged to continue doing well on that platform, everyone else will be encouraged to work across platforms
  • a need to reach audiences the BBC (and other news organisations) are struggling to engage with, particularly young C2 audiences

User generated content

The second panel, on user generated content, was probably the most interesting of the two days – mainly because it was also the most diverse, including Sky’s Simon Bucks and Paul Hambleton from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation alongside BBC Sport Online’s Claire Stocks, Matthew Eltringham from the BBC’s UGC hub, and Chris Russell from Future Media and Technology. Continue reading