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Comments: long live online journalism; and live blogs: good or useless?

December 16, 2010

If you post a comment, and you’re not a spam-bot or a crazy, odds are I’ll repost it because this WordPress theme kind of hides comments.

Chris Shepherd, overseer of News in the Koots and the Nelson Post, among others (right Chris?), responds to my post on Patch by commenting that online journalism saved him from PR. In my opinion, if the Internet can stop one person from entering PR it’s a force for good.

Greetings, Anonymous.

I couldn’t resist responding to this post seeing as it references two of my sites (the Nelson Post and News in the Kootenays).

I don’t know whether sites like mine will save us or send us to the hot place, but it has put me back into journalism in the town I love. I worked at a weekly here in Nelson (the Express) but realized there was no future for me there and the other papers – the Nelson Daily News (now closed) and Nelson Star – had no openings.

I toyed with the idea of joining the Dark Side (read: PR) and even bid on one contract. Fortunately I didn’t get the contract because I was recruited by the Kootenay Network, where the Nelson Post and News in the Kootenays can be found.

As I said, these sites allow me to be a journalist once again and with new duties that I’ve had to learn and come to terms with: namely aggregating (Less charitable folks call it copying).

You write that you don’t think rural communities aren’t as digitally connected, which is true, to an degree, but our traffic is high (47,000 a month) and I’ve had seniors tell me they know about News in the Koots.

You’re right about our low overhead and room to grow. We have plans to expand to other communities and have one in the Slocan Valley and one in Golden. I do believe the model we’re working on is one that can support journalists to continue to work and cover their communities.

I have more to say about live blogging but I’ll save that for your later post about the subject.

Keep up the good work on this blog.

I’ll just say that many community newspaper sites would probably collapse under the weight of 47,000 visitors, so kudos to Shepherd and company.

Shepherd also wrote about his experiences with liveblogging in response to a doubting comment of mine in that same Patch piece and a comment by the Powell River Peak’s Laura Walz. Shepherd:

I’d like to second Laura’s sentiments on live blogging. I also live blog council and committee of the whole meetings and I’ve had great feedback on them and could copy and paste Laura’s comments into my own as they’re all true.

I think the best comment I’ve heard was: “It’s like being at council without having to sit through all the boring stuff.” Indeed.

I’ve also live blogged one talk, given by David Suzuki, which had good feedback and when a downtown building caught fire in Nelson, we posted continual updates about the fire. People told us they would visit the story later just to see how it all played out.

That fire also showed me the potential of news on the Internet as people commented on the story: some asking questions about the history of the building and others answering those questions.

Don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it.

But from Castlegar News reporter Kim Magi comes this comment:

I don’t think live blogging can be seen as a black and white. There are many variables that depend on the success of a live blog.

For instance, as the reporter for the Castlegar News, I don’t think live blogging would be effective at our city council meetings. Our councillors are usually unanimous in their voting (it’s honestly noteworthy when votes are close) and our readers are interested in the outcome, not necessarily how council got there. Of course I include quotes from councillors about why they voted a certain way when I speak to them after meetings, but since our meetings are usually over and done with in an hour, I don’t think there would be a point of a live blog.

With all that aside, I can only go so far with the equipment I’m carrying. A notebook, recorder and heavy camera are enough without adding a laptop to the mix.

We do often update our stories online as they unfold, and make note of that in the headline so our readers are aware, and our stats show this is efficient.

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  1. December 16, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    “Overseer.” If only I had people to oversee.

    I do manage those sites and serve as managing editor for the Kootenay network, which means I prowl around, giving the odd tip to the editors of our other sites, work to develop new ones, and try to make sure we don’t sued for anything.

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