Does live blogging create better journalists?

Filed as News on April 9, 2008 4:03 pm

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Many of us are familiar with the live blogging of an event, and indeed may have done it from time to time.

An interesting article at Poynter Online claims that live blogging can improve journalists’ skills.

Ben Walker, an Associated Press journalist, spoke of how he wanted to share the interesting “micro details” at the end of a sports match, but felt it wasn’t newsworthy enough for a whole column. That’s when he added to his AP live blog entry.

“You see something funny or interesting,” Walker said, “and you think bang, I just want to pop something out right this second.”

He believes that journalists who partake in some form of live blogging can improve their skills. 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.”

Sports writer Greg Auman live blogs most of his games. “I find that live blogging keeps you more aware of the stories developing during a game,” Auman said. “You’re constantly having to come up with complete thoughts and analysis about an incomplete game.”

“The challenge with live blogging is obviously paying as much attention to the game as you can while writing throughout. And it’s a little harder to do during a night football game when there’s tight deadlines that often call for a story to be filed as soon as the game ends,” Auman said. “Again, a good live blog helps focus a game story for the next day’s paper — it’s harder to overlook things and easier to remember the key points you want to squeeze into a comprehensive game story.”

Of course, what immediately springs to mind — and how the article develops — is microblogging using services such as Twitter.

Finally, as I can vouch for the few times that I’ve live blogged an event, Charles Apple, a graphic artist, said that he’s been told that he makes live blogging look easy.

“That’s definitely not the case,” he said. “Blogging is a lot of hard work. You’re typing narrative, uploading photos, doing some light coding. 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.”

He’s intoxicated by the immediacy of live blogging, and the fact that hundreds or thousands of people can be following the updates in real time.

On the other side of the coin, the nature of live blogging is such that it can be hard to craft eloquent, typo free prose. It’s usually more important to get across the main points as quickly as possible. Whether this aspect makes you a better writer is debatable.

What do you think?

(Via Poynter)

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