Liveblogging vs. live tweeting

Poynter’s Matt Thompson offers five reasons to liveblog instead of live tweet, along with some pointers for successful real-time coverage.

Among Thompson’s tips: ensure battery power, background info and bathroom breaks are taken care of ahead of time. Know thy CMS. Promote a hashtag. Inform relevant readers. And don’t forget to engage with them, he writes: “I’m a firm believer in Dan Gillmor’s axiom: ‘My readers know more than I do.’ They prove it every time I liveblog.”

Thompson on moving beyond Twitter:

“[Twitter is] low-fidelity. The character limit is great for tweeting applause lines, but makes it difficult to capture the flux of a speaker’s argument, or the back-and-forth in a panel presentation. If you’ve ever given a talk and read the tweets afterwards, you’ve probably seen your remarks emerge from the 140-character meat grinder heavily truncated, somewhat mangled, and lacking a coherent thematic thread. To make a geeky analogy, live-tweeting is to an event what a MIDI file is to a song. A true liveblog is more like an mp3.”

You don’t have to abandon that Twitter audience, of course. ScribbleLive allows livebloggers to send posts onto Twitter (and vice versa), but also provides information to the larger portion of readers that aren’t immersed in the Twitterverse.

As a reporter tasked with covering many a conference, I can relate to Thompson’s point that a liveblog frees you from forcing a predetermined narrative into your live coverage. It also means that, by the end of the day, your notes are a lot more comprehensive because you’ve been transcribing for your audience all day, and are forced to pay attention more closely. And with ScribbleLive’s LiveArticle, writing your wrapup narrative is a lot less painful (here’s a LiveArticle wrap-up I wrote after liveblogging the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression awards gala last week).

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