Live blogs are a key editorial format used in newsrooms around the world to provide continuous, real-time coverage of important events as they happen.
Whether it’s scheduled events such as sports matches, elections, product launches and cultural events, or unpredictable occurrences such as severe weather and disasters, terror attacks and political unrest, a live blog’s curated timeline format allows news organisations to quickly break a story, then provide frequent updates after it’s been published and syndicated.
This go-to form of storytelling has seen an unprecedented surge in usage this year as the coronavirus pandemic emerged, and news sites scrambled to keep up with the rapidly evolving crisis. The advantage of using a live blog to cover such an important story is that it provides a dynamic, centralised repository where writers and editors can collaborate on quick-fire updates while effortlessly incorporating rich multimedia formats and posts from all the social media platforms. Readers also prize the format as they know exactly where to return to get the latest updates.
In this post we discuss a variety of live blogging use cases separated out by the most popular categories or story types. We’re including examples from our own customers as well as other live blog examples from around the web that best illustrate the potential of the format.
Elections and Politics
Live Blog is the perfect journalistic tool for covering elections with up-to-the-minute updates as they come in.
- See how Passauer Neue Presse used our live blogging platform to cover the spring municipal election in Bavaria;
- Leading German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) covered the U.S. presidential election primary known as Super Tuesday.
- Norwegian online news site Nettavisen used it to report City Council meetings in Oslo, thus boosting reader engagement while increasing local government transparency.
Politics isn’t limited to elections and legislative debates, however. Court cases and judicial proceedings also lend themselves to live blogging. This live blog of orders and opinions issued by the United States Supreme Court shows how a curated timeline of official updates from the bench, interspersed with expert commentary, can provide insight into an otherwise obscure arm of government.
For more tips, see this guide to optimising elections coverage, which shows you how to use custom post types, image slideshows and advanced features for charting and live poll reporting.
Sporting events are particularly well-suited to live blogging because of the timed-play nature of most popular games, like football. Avid fans often will keep a live blog open while watching a game on television, looking to the blog repeatedly in second-screen mode throughout an event for the latest replays, statistics and play-by-play commentary from both experts and fans.
For some examples of how top news agencies as well as small media outlets are live blogging sporting events, see:
True fans are eager for as much information as they can find on their favourite teams, and players when they’re off the field. Player transfers are an example of a sporting event other than a game that lends itself to live blogging, such as this one run by The Standard in the UK. Live blogs that include custom post types for player transfers make it even easier for fans to keep track of who is headed where, and how teams are shaping up for the season ahead.
Meanwhile, video gaming or esport events are becoming more popular, as are blogs covering them. For an example of how Live Blog was used for a global esports tournament, see dpa and Morgenpost’s team coverage of the 2018 ESLOne event in Hamburg.
Weather and Natural Disasters
When disasters strike, providing readers with the latest, up-to-the-minute information is crucial, and can even be life-saving.
In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, this case study outlines how German-language news outlets such as Austria Presse Agentur (APA), Zeit Online and dpa have been using our live blogging software to deliver continual updates to their readers.
Other use cases from our customers include:
Awards ceremonies, festivals, concerts and art events are prime occasions to live blog and provide readers with a sense of being in attendance. This guide to Live Blogging a Cultural Event is a good place to start thinking about how to set your coverage apart.
Other Live Blog examples include dpa’s live blog on the 2020 Grammy music awards in Los Angeles, and Eurovision’s coverage of its 2018 Song Contest, one of the largest TV events in the world.
War and Terror Attacks
German news site Zeit Online used Live Blog for extensive coverage of the 2016 terror attack on Brussels and experimented with what they call a “slow blog” on the years-long reporting on the Battle of Mosul. We interviewed Sybille Klormann, lead editor for all live blogging projects, to learn about Zeit Online’s best practices for this dynamic form of real-time coverage.
As climate change drives a variety of other crises, reporting on the environment has become more urgent; many news organisations are devoting significantly more time and resources to the subject.
Ambiental Jalisco, a startup network of local news sites in Mexico focused on getting citizens involved in ecological issues in cities across the country, is using our live blogging platform to bring their news and social networks together. Read our case study on Ambiental Jalisco here.
Live blogging is a practical way to track earnings releases and product launches as well as the daily gyrations of international stock markets and individual business sectors.
DPA used Live Blog to report Apple’s 2019 Keynote, highlighting all of the company’s new product releases as they were being announced. Ars Technica has also live blogged Apple launch events.
Elsewhere, CNBC creates a new market-related live blog each day, frequently updating it and pulling together the top stories affecting U.S. stock markets.
Travel and Lifestyle
With so many travel and lifestyle blogs in the digital world, finding a way to differentiate your content and speak to an audience is key. One of our picks for creativity combined with authenticity is W42St, an independent lifestyle magazine that chronicles the people and businesses of NYC’s gritty Hell’s Kitchen neighbourhood. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, they were forced to suspend their print edition, and turned to Live Blog as a way of keeping their community connected.
Weird News, Photo of the Day and Other Offbeat Stories
Finally, the live blog format offers a way for publishers to package content and earn revenue on new products; especially using recurring, daily news features so that customer news organisations can receive it via syndication and readers can easily find it with content tags.
DPA’s Top Photo of the Day is a good example of this. Also, their Weird News & Other Offbeat Stories is currently embedded in around two dozen customer websites, including Mitteldeutsche Zeitung and Radio Essen.
Elsewhere, Reuters has a blog called Oddly Enough that collects and syndicates daily offbeat and humourous stories to their clients.
If you are not yet a Live Blog user and you’re looking for live blogging software to cover real-time news, you can try Live Blog for free here, no strings attached.