Tuesday, 13 May 2008

Live blogging

The LDP Live day is winding down now - unless there's some breaking news - and I've had two minutes to catch my breath. So I thought I'd just jot down my thoughts on the live blog while they're fresh.
I know some of those who took part followed Francois Nel's suggestion of noting how we felt about the project before it started. Mine were: "I wish we'd had a week to prepare for this; I really wish I had thought more about what it involved and I don't know if I'm up to this."
Revisiting that statement now I think what I actually meant was: "I hope everthing looks really good." Which is a very different thing indeed.
The truth is that the live blog was everything a newsroom really is - chaotic, good humoured, pacey and sometimes exciting, sometimes infuriating.
We rode a catastrophe curve some of the day and personally I feel we pulled it off - which is what live breaking news is about.
I think a news team is at it's best when things are just a whisker away from potential derailment: When the news is breaking as fast as you can type and the subs are screaming that you're 10 minutes past deadline with the front page... and you still don't actually have the story finished (although you never admit that).
And today felt like that, for me at least. It was very pressured, sometimes ropey and the streaming was hit-and-miss.
But still. But still.
This was one of the biggest team efforts in a newsroom I have seen in nearly 20 years of working in regional journalism. There were so many people of different technological abilities trying to make it work. David Higgerson - a hero of the day if ever there was one - told me we'd had 1,500 people on the live blog part of www.liverpooldailypost.co.uk by the time I left this evening - be interesting to see what the final numbers were.
Martin Stabe asked me, quite rightly, what the point of LDP Live was.
Well, it wasn't just about seeing what we could achieve with the different types of social media; it got everyone on the editorial team thinking about different ways of breaking news, telling stories, connecting with people. I hope it gave a little transparency to what we do, and I think it achieved a cultural shift within the newsroom that will have a long term benefit.
The experiences today have helped me understand the myriad different ways we can approach covering stories in the future. We used Coveritlive.com Bambuser and Qik but I didn't even think of the potential for on-the-move podcasting with Utterz until a live blogger suggested it during the day. It was a real "Doh!" moment... Twitter also didn't feature as much as it might have. But you know, we learn from our mistakes and ommissions and I guess different papers might approach it differently after assessing what they liked and disliked about our attempt.
I think it was worth it. I learned a lot and I had (with hindsight) a lot of fun doing it. And the Twitterati were, as ever, fantastically supportive - thanks everyone!
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