Wick Communications

Live-blog breaking news

In Online media on December 11, 2014 at 5:10 pm

tick tock

We had a real gully washer in Half Moon Bay on Thursday. At this writing, we’re expecting four inches of rain in a 24-hour period. The winds have gusted to 50 mph and we have downed trees, standing water in the streets … and a whole lotta wet Californians complaining about the weather. (Go ahead and chuckle in Williston. We deserve it.)

Obviously, locals were depending on the news media for school closures, road conditions, power outages and all that the wet weather brought us. To meet that need, we leaned heavily on Twitter and Facebook. We posted 14 times in four hours on Twitter, including our staff photos of the destruction.

We also reported in a tick-tock approach, or live blog, that we continually updated on our TownNews platform for our website. You can see how it looks here.

This isn’t something I dreamed up. It’s a common tactic for big news events – court decisions, the Super Bowl, anything that unfolds over time. I know that Dan Shearer has used it for breaking news in Green Valley.

I think it’s effective for a couple of reasons. The most obvious, for me, is that you can produce these updates without writing an entire story with a lede, transitions and all the rest. We assumed our readers came to the story for the latest on the storm. They knew it was raining. They just wanted the updates. That made the job much quicker for me: Writers wrote me feeds from their beats and I simply opened the existing asset and pasted new stuff at the top. I put a time stamp with each update. …

A side benefit is that you don’t “lose” the comments that folks make on your original story. There are tons of live-blogging tips online. Here’s one set from a professor at the University of Texas. There are also platforms and applications made specifically for live-blogging, such as ScribbleLive. If you have any experience with those, I’d love to hear about it.

Clay

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