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Live blogs rock

December 16, 2010

Laura Walz responds to my comment doubting the reach of live blogging.

I had written:

I also doubt that there is an audience for live blogs of city hall meetings, even if the idea is marvelous and inspiring (by all means, live blog if you’re going to take notes on your computer anyways, but it’s not going to add much traffic.)

Walz wrote back:

As someone who live blogs from both council and committee-of-the-whole meetings in Powell River, I found your comments about live blogging from council meetings interesting. Of course, we strive to drive traffic to our websites, but I’ve found that is not the main reason for live blogging.

I often receive comments from readers who tell me how much they appreciate the information. People who follow local politics can’t often attend meetings, but the blogs give them an insight into not only what is happening, but personalities, issues, positions. Elected officials and staff also follow the blogs, I find, especially staff who can’t attend the meetings, but want to know what is going on. Elected officials like to keep track of what I’m writing about them.

To people outside our community, the live blogs might not make as much sense as they do to people who live here. Powell River residents know the personalities involved. When a really hot topic is being discussed, readership increases. I’ve also been asked to live blog from other meetings, but I draw the line at committee and council meetings. It’s tasking, especially when the meetings are long.

I’ve found the thanks I receive from people is a good motivation to keep doing it. While the numbers may be small, the people who read the live blogs appreciate what I’m doing and let me know that. That keeps me going.

I’ve gotta say: I love to follow live blogs. I just doubted the reach. Apparently they’re well received, which is good, because I’d like to see them spread for a couple of reasons. First liveblogging probably gives reporters something to do during those council meetings where you want to stab yourself through the eyes. Second, they mean reporters need to have laptop computers, and I’d love a laptop. I would also guess that the fabulously designed prpeak.com website is probably an asset when it comes to making live blogs attractive and easy to use.

For more on this discussion, see more comments here.

  1. December 16, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    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.

  2. December 16, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    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.

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