Why liveblogs almost certainly don’t outperform articles by 300%

In response to this study, linked to by journalism.co.uk among many others.

  1. The sample size is 28 pieces of content across 7 news stories – that content includes liveblogs, articles, picture galleries. That’s a startlingly small number for a sample which is meant to be representative.
  2. The study does not look at how these stories were promoted, or whether they were running stories (suited to live coverage), reaction blogs, or other things.
  3. The traffic sample is limited to news stories, and does not include sports, entertainment or other areas where liveblogs may be used, and that may have different traffic profiles.
  4. The study compares liveblogs, which often take a significant amount of time and editorial resource, with individual articles and picture galleries, some of which may take much less time and resource. If a writer can create four articles in the time it takes to create a liveblog, then the better comparison is between a liveblog and the equivalent amount of individual, stand-alone pieces.
  5. The study is limited to the Guardian. There’s no way to compare the numbers with other publications that might treat their live coverage differently, so no way to draw conclusions on how much of the traffic is due to the way the Guardian specifically handles liveblogs.
  6. The 300% figure refers to pageviews. Leaving aside the fact that this is not necessarily the best metric for editorial success, the Guardian’s liveblogs autorefresh, inflating the pageview figure for liveblogs.

All that shouldn’t diminish the study’s other findings, and of course it doesn’t mean that the headline figure is necessarily wrong. But I would take it with a hefty pinch of salt.

Citizen liveblogging

Pretty sure this Reddit comment thread, from the night of the Zuccotti Park Occupy evictions, is the first time I’ve seen citizen liveblogging in the wild. It’s impressive work; short, timely posts, mostly reports from the video livestream, interspersed with links to videos, Twitter and other news coverage. There’s an attempt to verify whether one video shows tear gas being used or not. And it’s all done by someone who works at a hospital in a different state to the events themselves.

We’re rapidly creating a world in which the wide web of connections between people are functionally replacing the vertical connections between news outlets and people. Everyone is better informed, not necessarily because they know more but because the information is readily available, should they wish to discover something. The ambient information that anchor journalists and live reporters use to fuel their work is readily available to everyone with an interest; the new ease of publishing isn’t limited to finished stories or to eyewitness accounts, but extends to curation, information filtering and all that other juicy stuff we journos pride ourselves on.

This is fascinating.