It's all about the issues, Courtney. It's not just thinking about content, it's about tone and purpose.
@bgillesp I think that once you understand the flow of breaking news on Twitter and the repercussions a mistake can cause, you're on your way to understanding most technologies or real-time methods. I find being honest is the best thing. If someone asks you a question which you can't answer, be direct.
That's good advice, Mick. Often saying what you don't know is as good as saying what you do know.
Terra is right. Ethically, you have to think about what would realistically make it on air/in print. If you can't verify your facts or don't know if what you witnessed is a) or b), don't post it. Back up your facts and always be 100 per cent sure that what you're saying is correct.
Great question Bruce. I personally found that some of the live-to-air broadcast training and experience I had comes into practice in this environment. To that point, generally, I've found that people who like broadcast really tend to get live blogs. ... As for engagement and understanding it: Driving engagement was something I learned as an online video editor/producer at Transcontinental with a business publication called Investment Executive. I was always distributing the content, usually through email, to the people we interviewed, or the people that I thought might be interested. So it wasn't exactly the same process, but the concept was identical.
To Mick's point, I think this is where exercises like the one Gavin talked about earlier are very handy. If you try a "live event" without going live, you can go through the steps and talk about not only what you're covering but why.
Good point, Terra. I think trying out a mock liveblog before sending students out in the field is brilliant. Everyone needs guidelines. The impact of a simple mistake on a public platform, as we know, can be confusing if not completely terrifying.
I always find it interesting how many students try to "tweet" too much. Or get a quote wrong. Or miss colour. And they're always exhausted!
Gavin, you guys did a study on real-time and noticed your students were making a lot of errors. How do you combat this? As a student, I see why they get so edgy and excited about live events, and it's easy to make mistakes.
On ethics, Courtney, most students need plenty of ethical and legal reminders about posting content that's not theirs. For example, many twitter users will repost professional photographs without asking, attributing and sourcing. We have to disavow journalists from that typical user habit.
Anecdote: my first big liveblog was during the 2011 Student Day of Action (I was a student in Terra's class at King's). I tweeted so much in a darn blizzard and dropped a rather public f-bomb on Twitter. Was it necessary? No. I should have thought more carefully about how I would carry myself had I been on T.V., for example.
I think part of the problem is when people consider a live blog or chat to be like a live radio program. They don't consider how it'll live on or be retweeted. If you know it has a life beyond "the now" that can change your perspective.
On real-time errors, Courtney, yes, that's true. Particularly tricky is getting to know how your mobile hardware might integrate with the app you're using. (In our case, Scribble's). So the editorial mistakes can of course be corrected in this environment, but if you load a video sideways or upside down it's not something that can be corrected. You have to live with some mistakes and make a judgment about the value of the content against the appearance of the media on the live blog. In one instance we've got great protest video upside down. We kept it! In this instance, the students just need more experience and then maybe even a physical reminder on their phone about which way to hold it for live blog-ready video. It's easy to make mistakes when you're managing all the software at once. I should add that you can rotate and edit photos in this environment, but not video.
Here's a great question from one of Terra's former students, who also happens to be one of Mick's former classmates!
Yes, mistakes happen. That's why practising is key and going over policies like live editing. Prep work!
Belinda, in my other life as a CBC journalist, I relied on reporters all the time for live info, whether it was from court, a fire, etc. It always helped to chat before about expectations, style, etc. I often crafted stories based on their tweets or emails. They had to be accurate.
I'll also say that the message was always the same: Don't tweet it if you wouldn't say it on the air.
I recently did a focus group with some journalism students about real-time content and Dana's question came up a lot. There were some students who were very apprehensive about the integration of live updates into journalism. I think we're ALL very interested to know how you guys get students to understand the importance of this knowledge.
Belinda, just to add a little more on ethics: Partly this is about journalism but partly I think it's about everybody (what was formerly know as "audience" included!) getting used to new media conventions. I think if journalists make their best efforts to verify twitter accounts, for example, or the veracity of whatever content, then that's something that can distinguish them from other users to some extent. But we also need to put this in perspective. There's always been fraudsters, via phone, fake IDs whatever. (As a side note, did you ever ask someone to see their ID when you were using them for a streeter and they told you their name was Joe Brown? : )) So part of it's a matter of doing the best we can and then owning up to mistakes and apologizing for them when they happen.
Dana, as someone who was a student just a few years ago, I found what convinced me was the constant activity on social media platforms. I find the concept of waiting for the supper hour show to break "exclusive" or "breaking" news completely ridiculous. People are active all day long. They consume information all the time. Become a part of their trusted sources.
Dana, "fast journalism" is a real skill and it's valued in newsrooms. The expectation for many new journalists is that they can operate in a real-time environment. This could mean the difference in landing a job!
On the value of real-time reporting, Mick's got it right. In my experience, students often take a good year to rid themselves of some of the romanticism for old media forms. They need convincing that they have an advantage in today's world. If they just apply what they understand and know from their everyday lives to the journalism world they will do very well. ... analytics do help. They can see, in cold hard numbers, how real-time content can perform compared to old content that's posted after the news has broken for example. I have this saying that websites are where stories go to die now. Which is an exaggeration, I know, and I don't quite believe it -- but there's a grain of truth to it.
Great answer, Gavin. My final question, as we only have a couple of minutes left, kind of ties into the idea of new mediums for journalists replacing traditional broadcast. Do you see real-time reporting one day replacing static articles? At least in the case of breaking news, or sports reporting?