A trade journal of a still-emerging field, written by Adam Tinworth.

Posts tagged liveblogging


Some time ago I was interviewed by Karin O’Mahony about liveblogging and its use in a journalistic context. The report was published a little over a month ago, and I’ve finally had the chance to dive in.

First of all – a caveat. It focuses exclusively on the journalistic rolling liveblogs that are commonly used by media organisations, rather than other forms of liveblogging, some of which pre-dated the media use. This irks me a little – these forms do not develop in isolation within journalism, but are informed by both the tools and practices that emerge on the web, none of which is really acknowledged within the research. But I’m slowly reconciling myself to this – the long-running time-stamped format has become the primary journalist use of the concept, and that largely emerged within journalism.

That said, I think the report does an excellent job in capturing the core elements and challenges in creating a viable live blog, with a creditable amount of time give to the practicalities. There’s a useful 10 point guide, partially derived from my own contributions:

Liveblogging in 10 steps

  1. Write quickly
  2. Be human, not opinionated, in your tone of voice.
  3. Be extra aware of sensitive information, conflicting information and unverified information.
  4. Be social: take in readers’ comments and contributions and use social media for sourcing – but be aware that social skills are built up over a longer period of time and treat these sources as any other sources. Get to know your audience.
  5. Be transparent about when you cannot verify – but also when you are sure: link to sources and interesting material. Open up the journalistic process to your readers.
  6. Do not lose the overall perspective on the bigger story – summarise from time to time.
  7. Do not be mentally locked into the first narrative that emerges – be able to construct an emerging narrative from the emerging facts over time.
  8. Make sure you are totally familiar with the technical tools so that you can focus entirely on the writing and research
  9. If possible (for scheduled events), be prepared and read up on the subject.
  10. Be creative with ways to fill the gaps when no information is coming through.

There’s some interesting discussion about restructuring sites around livblogging for news-centric organisations, and well as the challenges around verification, with the emerge of determined hoaxers as a significant problem.

It’s a useful piece of work, and a good contribution to the on-going discussion about new forms of journalism. Grab yourself a copy – it’s free – and dig in.

Download As It Happens: How live blogs work and their future

Blue Light Camp 2014

Saturday morning… and I’m in Southampton. I’m at the Ordnance Survey’s rather impressive new offices here, working with my good friend and colleague Matt Buck to do live capture of an event:

Matt Buck doing live capture

Blue Light Camp is an unconference for people working in or with the emergency services. I’ll be livecapturing the proceedings with Matt over on the Blue Light Camp blog. It’s been a while since I did this at an unconference – I’m looking forwards to the challenge.

This is a really interesting development: Reddit is working to facilitate journalistic liveblogging activity on the site.

[Reddit has…] become a place where new forms of journalism occur, such as the reporting on breaking news events like a shooting or the war in Syria. To help make that even easier, Reddit has launched a “live blogging”-style feature that will eventually allow anyone to function as a kind of Reddit-based news reporter.

Reddit is quietly becoming a powerhouse for in-the-moment journalism. Not bad for the site that everyone wrote off as “the one that lost to Digg” seven years ago…

light-liveblogging-kit.jpgMonday’s Hacks/Hackers Brighton was my opportunity to test-drive a lightweight liveblogging kit. I’m used to lugging around a MacBook Pro and a Canon DSLR with a few lenses for liveblogging – two bodies, if it’s a paid gig. It’s overkill for some situations, so I’ve been assembling the components for a leightweight kit. At the heart of it is an iPad. On top of that:

How did it go?

Great. Once again, I found that the iPad screen size is pretty much perfect for writing. It allows you to be focused, without being over-whelming – and without the distractions that a computer brings. I think twice before switching to a different app on the iPad while liveblogging, while I’m more likely to tab into Twitter, say, if I’m on the MacBook Pro. It was a pleasant writing experience, which lead to longer posts than normal. 

I need to work a little on the photographic element of it. The camera was fine. Pulling the photos onto the iPad was fine. Getting the colour balance right wasn’t – as you can see in this photo:

Libby PowellI need to experiment with the different photo editing options on the iPad to resolve that – and then practice with them until I know how to use the app quickly and efficiently.


  • The iPad is potentially a great liveblogging device
  • It can certainly function as a “back up” to the laptop in case of failure or power loss
  • It may, with some practice, do as my main device in many situations
  • I need to invest some time in invesigating photo editing apps

© 2012 Steph Bouchet.jpgGosh, Le Web time already? Yup – it’s now held twice a year. Summer’s Le Web is held in the UK. While it’s smaller than the main Parisian event, it still brings together an inetresting mix of European and intercontinental digerati for two days of discussion and netwoking. And, once again, I’m an official blogger at the event.

in three weeks’ time I’ll be in London for Le Web’s UK edition, liveblogging as I normally do. (You can actually see me at work in the front row if you look carefully at the image above from last year…)

This year’s theme is The Sharing Economy.

If you fancy coming along – the event is held in Westminster – I have a discount code for you: OBDISCOUNT will save you £200 on the cost of a ticket for Le Web.  

Zachary Neal

Liveblogged notes of Zachary Neal‘s talk on community integration and cohesion at the RSA.

In this talk he’s going to focus on micro networks. Are diverse communities possible? Tha answer’s grim: no. But there is a bright side…

He’s been thinking about community policy in the US; it’s fragmented and piecemeal. It’s more clearly articulated in the UK. In 2001 the Home Office came out with a report on community cohesion, which lead to the Commission on Integration & Cohesion. In 2010, the Cabinet Office made it clear it was important as part of the Big Society rubric. 

This is the right direction – but there’s a hidden problem, a policy paradox. It’s not clear how integration and cohesion interlock. Are more integrated communities more cohesive? Or are more integrated communities less cohesive?


In segregated communities, similar people live near one another.  In integrated communities, different sorts of people are more evenly mixed through the neighbourhood. 

Social networks

In fragmented communities, people have disconnected social networks. In cohesive communities, people have dense special networks. 

Making Friends

How do people develop social networks; how do they come together?

Homophily – birds of a feather flock together. This is a nearly universal characteristic – it applies to animals, cities and protein interactions. It can be stinger or weaker. But it’s not about aversion. It’s more about opportunities to meet.

Proximity – near things are more related than far things. Works for all sorts of things, but people especially. 

They create hypothetical communities, and think about what the social networks might look like, assuming moderate homophile and proximity. Moderately segregated communities are moderately cohesive. Highly segregated communities are more cohesive. They see this time after time. And on the other end of the spectrum, highly integrated communities are much less cohesive. 

Conclusion: homophily and proximity means that making communities more integrated makes them less cohesive.

The Policy Problem

Are we stuck with this? Or can we shift to a world of integrated, cohesive communities? At any strength, homophily and proximity push against this. So, can we get rid of homophily? Can you imagine a world where you only became friends with people unlike you? Unlikely.

The other possibility is getting rid of proximity – making people more likely to become friends with people a long way away. Again, seems unlikely.

To create a integrated, cohesive world people need to avoid their neighbours, or avoid “birds of a feather”. But is that a world we want to live in? It seems to him that it’s not a world he wants to live in, or is it clear it’s even possible.

Is our policy initiative aiming for an unobtainable goal? Should we be striving for a balance instead? Could some communities benefit from more integration, some from more cohesion? 


Zachar Neal Q&A

Is there a Goldilocks point where you have sufficient cohesion, without becoming a monoculture?

It’s hard to identify that. Maximising cohesion is not necessarily our goal. Cohesivie communities tend to be very stagnant. Ideas stay within them, they don’t innovate. More fragmented networks mean you receive lots of different information, opening the way to innovation. 

How possible is it to change the tradeoff through skilled network interventions?

The easiest work – under the name the contact hypothesis – worked poorly. The way way to break down boundaries is through friends of friends, not forcing unlike people to live next to each other. It’s difficult to create an intervention to create this friends of friends, though. We understand what’s need, but not how to do it.

Is a better understanding of social networks relevant to policy?

For centuries governments have been collecting census data and using it to set policy. The problem is that census data treats each individual separately – we need to look at how people relate to one another. That move sue beyond the simplistic individual analysis. Social networks are providing us with those tools. Pretty much everything we do is driven by the people we know. 

In the states, we see naturally occurring retirement communities. They’re not moving, just finding each other and supporting each other.

The internet and faster transport are eroding the proximity effect. Now it’s possible to carry on long-distance friendships without meeting, or to form retirement community snot based on spacial proximity. 

We’re seeing two types of relationships emerge online. There are those relationships that become offline relationships, and then we’re seeing the low level “Facebook” relationship, formed with just a click. Use of the internet to form real world relationships is one way of reversing these trends.

Who funds you?

This is unfunded work. 

Is computer analysis of networks is incredibly naive – possibly even wrong? 

This is an early version of a much larger model that will include many other characteristics. This models will never capture what’s going on in people’s heads. It’s a purely structural models – that gives us some idea of the boundaries within which policy can be set. There’s nothing random in networks – just things that are hard to predict and things are very hard to predict. 

Is the term “proximity” a problem? Facilities can bring people together, but not at the same scale you’re talking about. Is the very idea of neighbourhood a problem in this?

In this model proximity just means the things immediately around your house. Your point is that proximity can mean proximity to facilities. Public schools can allow parents to form relationship and networks around that school. Charter schools create more fragmented networks. The way we design these public facities can effect the social networks in the area. 

What about Universities? Or social media?

Universities are one of those nuclei that networks form around. But there’s still an element of homophily, around university education, around subject matter. Online social networks don’t seem to be translating into offline relationships. They could be used to reduce the effect of proximity, though, through maintaining relationships established face to face over greater distance. 

My thoughts

I really want to read his book. The model he’s presenting sounds like a good, but simplistic start on understanding the variables underlying community – that can’t quite stand up the claims being made, because there are more factors in play that the model accounts for. His approach to the effects of online networking on relationships seemed simplistic and on the borderline of wrong – but it feels like he’s doing good work challenging some of the assumptions around community policy.