Fire up that live blog and watch your audience grow

Recent stories about snow and floods, and the frequent updating they require, has brought home just how popular live blogs are.

They deliver a day-long stream of news updates, photos and tweets about unfolding events, and combine conventional news reporting with commentary and curation from secondary sources. They serve up an appetising series of content nuggets that are especially suited to consumption at readers’ workplaces.

Readers love their immediacy and urgency, the feeling that they are on top of a fast-moving event or issue.

They are also incredibly exciting to produce. Whoever is drawing the elements of a live blog together must think on their feet, casting their net across the social media in search of the most enticing items.

Feedback from readers is instantaneous, and to experience a blog grabbing people’s attention and setting Twitter alight is a real treat.

Last year a group of academics at City University London investigated the live news blogging phenomena.

In their study live blogs had 300 per cent more views and 233 per cent more visitors than conventional online articles on the same subject.

Yet journalists seem a little wary of using them. They seem to think they should be reserved for ‘big’ events or issues.

That is such a waste of a really powerful reporting platform. A report of an unfolding traffic accident, for instance, delivered in four bursts of reportage, combined with perhaps a picture and a couple of tweets from witnesses is so much more appealing to readers than a conventional eight-par news story.

Readers have delivered their verdict on live blogging. We are being far too slow to serve up more of what they want.

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About John Wilson

Group deputy editor of the Worcester News, Berrow's Worcester Journal, Malvern Gazette and Evesham Journalist. Journalist for more than 30 years.
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