There’s nothing new under the sun: Live blogging

Live blogging isn’t an old concept according to Brisbane Times journalist, Natalie Bochenski. She remembers her first “live blogging” experience when interning with Brisbane’s B 105 radio station during the September 11 attacks. But how does radio relate to live blogging? Listen to find out.

Bochenski’s example of her first live blogging experience essentially proves the concept of live blogging has been around for quite sometime. It just was defined differently.

What has also changed is the definition of “live” coverage in journalism. Before the internet, live TV coverage was the the most immediate source of breaking news…although it too did, and still does, have time delays during the broadcast process.

Thanks to the advent of the internet, and in particular social media platforms, breaking news stories to be told immediately as they break. Bochenski drew upon a recent example here in Brisbane when Gerard Baden-Clay was found guilty. The moment the judge announced the verdict, Brisbane Times reporter Marissa Calligeros immediately blogged, “The jury has found Gerard Baden-Clay guilty”.

A snippet from the Bayden-Clay trial live blog by the Brisbane Times.

A snippet from the Baden-Clay trial live blog by the Brisbane Times.

Breaking news is being reported faster and told more concisely than ever before in history. No waiting to see read the verdict inside a 400 word news story in the newspaper the next day, no turning on the TV to wait for the live cross to the reporter outside the courthouse. Breaking news is now immediate thanks to the internet.

Not only does the public get the breaking news the moment it happens, they also can be there as it happens…through live blogging accounts.

By describing the public gallery’s reaction to the verdict as well as Baden Clay’s reaction, Calligeros created vivid imagery of the court room atmosphere the moment Baden-Clay was convicted of murdering his late wife, Alison. These intimate details, or as Bochenski calls ‘colour’, creates a sense of atmosphere for the reader. A whole new dimension of news reporting, readers wherever in Australia (or internationally) they may be can feel like they are part of the action as it unfolds.

Live blogging has reinvigorated the practice of journalism all over the world. In an interview for The Poynter Institute, graphic designer at The Virginian-Pilot Charles Apple said he is infatuated with the immediacy of the practice ever since he started live blogging conferences in 2005.

“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.”

Live blogging isn’t as easy as it looks

While pros like Calligeros make it look easy, Apple said the art of live blogging is a difficult one to perfect.

“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.”

Apple encourages aspiring live bloggers to practice, practice, practice.

“The more of it you do — and the more of it you do under pressure — the better you’ll get at it, the faster you’ll become and the less likely you’ll get rattled on deadline.”

Bochenski’s five tips to ace live blogging

1. Be prepared

Sometimes you can’t prepare for a live blogging event, such as a breaking news story like the gunman in Queen Street Mall. For other events, preparation work can be done before the event such as gathering related content such as photos, news articles and social media posts that link to the event.

2. Bread and butter of live blogging

Get the critical information out to the public, the who, what, where and why. Listen here for more information on what Bochenski calls “the bread and butter of live blogging”


3. Striking the right balance between accuracy and speed

Bochenski said it’s hard to find a happy medium between speed and accuracy when live blogging.


4. Add some ‘colour’

Ensure your readers are feeling like they are part of the action. Use emotive language to describe intimate details such as body language or location of the event (refer back to Calligeros’s details of the Bayden-Clay live blog) to vividly portray the atmosphere of the event.

5. Use multimedia to break up the content

Nobody likes to read giant blocks of text, break it up with some images, maps or embedded videos to help the reader gain a better understanding of the event.