The rise of liveblogging

29 June 2012

Written by: Steinar Ellingsen

Thanks to social media, today we receive our news in real-time. With the rise of liveblogging, we expect that content will be delivered to us not just moments after an event has occurred, but often, as it is occurring.

Established in 2007 CoveritLive is the world’s largest live-blogging platform. Embraced by journalists, bloggers and large corporations, it boasts over 120,000,000 users. It is a web-based service that allows users to stream video, text and images in real-time using its Viewer Window software.

CoveritLive works by embedding the live event into the Viewer Window on the publisher’s website or blog. In the style of an instant messenger, text is automatically streamed as it is typed, and interactive features such as polls and links can be quickly inserted into the live blog player.

Images are automatically aligned and fitted by CoveritLive upon insertion into the Viewer Window, saving the publisher time worrying about layout. Viewers are able to quickly and easily engage in a discourse about the event being streamed via the comments section in the embedded blog player.

After the event ends, the blog is archived, with all links, text and video stored into a format that can replayed at will.

Liveblogging has been described by journalist Matt Wells from The Guardian as ‘the online answer to 24/7 television news,’ providing ‘a useful way of telling stories characterised by incremental developments and multiple layers.’

However it is not without its detractors, coming under fire from those that value the structural integrity of the inverted triangle style of hard news journalism.

‘There is no structure and therefore no sense, and the effect is of being in the middle of a room full of loud, shouty and excitable people all yelling at once with all the phones ringing, the fire alarm going off and a drunken old boy slurring in your ear about “what it all means”,’ wrote one blogger.

Implications about what liveblogging might mean for the future of journalism aside, the technology behind it remains relatively new and far from fail proof. CoveritLive has suffered from technical malfunctions during high-profile events, and in January of this year, the company was forced to ask all users to reset their passwords after it was attacked by hackers (although no financial data was compromised).

Digital media consultant Kevin Anderson suggests that while liveblogging holds a valid place in the future of online journalism, users need to be aware of its limitations: ‘We have to make sure that a stream of news aggregation doesn’t feel like a maddening stream of consciousness… live blogging [is a] great tool and technique, but [it] works when a journalist makes editorial choices and adds value through context.’

Alyce Hogg is studying a Bachelor of Journalism with Honours at La Trobe University. You can follow her on Twitter: @alycehogg.