In part 2 of the Wannabe Hacks Live Blog day, we’re looking at how to best use live blogs as a form of reporting. Please add your own tips in the comments, or tweet us @wannabehacks.
1. Find your own style
I’ve always felt that having your own style for a live blog works best, as there really isn’t a rule book to follow. Focus on reporting the facts, as you would with any journalism, but I also think there is room for opinion. Live blogs need not be only news reporting, and adding some elements of comment and humour (where appropriate) can spark debate and help with reader engagement. That said, if you want to stick to the facts, don’t be afraid to do that either. If there’s lots going on, certainly don’t sacrifice information for the opportunity to add your own thoughts.
2. Write lots, post fast
People follow a live blog because they want the news LIVE. They aren’t looking for long, well constructed paragraphs of text, that take 15 minutes for the next one to appear. Certainly think about what you’re writing and ensure it’s well written, check for spelling mistakes etc, but this isn’t long form journalism. As discussed earlier, one of the live blog’s strengths is the immediacy at which it can deliver news. Exploit that feature!
3. Use multimedia
Snap, video, and do interviews. Think of the copy as the bread and butter of the live blog, and then get as much multimedia reporting included as possible to liven it up and add the colour. Photojournalism is perhaps the easiest to do here, as all you really need is a camera phone, but I really think content like audio interviews add so much value to a story and make it worth following over something like a Twitter hashtag.
4. Social media and citizen journalism
Social media is a great resource for live blogs, and keeps things interesting and engaging. Watch a relevant Twitter hashtag, and consider including some Tweets as vox pops. Videos, slide shows, and other forms of citizen journalism are also a good resource to tap, but ensure that you’re crediting the owners properly (I’ve seen nationals fail to do this).
5. Get a team
A lot of these suggestions depend on what you’re covering, but it always helps to be working in coordination with other people. It’ll enable you to get so much up on your blog, keep things moving, and provide readers with a whole host of interesting content, from simply the facts. Elephant is a group of student journalists that live blog news in London, and area good example of what can be achieved in collaboration.
Got your own tips? It’s over to you to continue discussion in the comments. Got any thoughts on what makes bad practice when live blogging, or disagree with any of my tips here..?
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After finishing my stint in student media, I couldn’t help but look