by Anthony Covalciuc | Aug 3, 2017
News & Updates
Tips and Tricks
August 3, 2017
From Novice To Pro in 6 Steps: How To Launch Your Live Blog
New to live blogging?
Here’s a quick 6-steps guide and a 5-minute video to getting started with Live Blog. From setting up your blog to curating and publishing content, you’ll be live blogging like a pro in no time.
Step 1: Set Up Your Live Blog
To create a new blog, click the “CREATE BLOG” icon in the top-right corner of your screen.
This directs you to a small menu called “Create New Blog”. In this section, the only required field is “BLOG TITLE”. Without entering a title, you can’t proceed to the next phase.
The most important factor in naming your live blog is to communicate clearly the subject you are blogging about. It’s also useful to search for and use some keywords or trending topics related to your coverage, as it will boost visibility and drive more web traffic to your blog.
Step 2: Assemble Your Team
After creating a blog, you have the option to set up a team. Only users who are already in the system can be assigned authorisations to edit, contribute, and work in the back end of your blog.
To add new users, click on the dropdown menu in the top-left of the screen and select “USER MANAGEMENT”.
On the following page, click the plus sign in the upper-right corner of the dashboard. A menu will appear which allows you to create new user profiles.
A live blogging team ideally consists of at least 2-3 people, although the team size is relative to your needs and goals. Teams are comprised of editors and contributors. While contributors can only write posts, editors approve, publish, and decide how to present and order posts.
Every team requires at least one editor. If you’re operating alone, then you are both editor and contributor.
The first action to take is decide on roles and create users for your team members in the system accordingly. Then you can add them to the team by typing their usernames. After you’ve selected your team, click “CREATE” and start blogging.
If live breaking news is the focus of your blog, then it’s a good idea to have a reporter on site to provide an eyewitness account of events. Another great feature of Live Blog is our mobile Reporter App. With the app, your contributors on the ground can submit and publish updates, photos, and other forms of multimedia directly to the blog from their phone.
Other team members can monitor social media and other channels including other blogs, news agencies, etc. They can use this information as either direct embeds in the blog timeline or as indirect sources of information.
Step 3: Create and Publish Live Content
Once your blog has been created, you can start publishing live news instantly. To begin, click the “Settings” icon in upper right corner of your blog. This takes you to a screen which shows both an embed code and a web address. Either one of these can be copied and pasted into your web publishing system of choice such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc. Once you have done this, everything you post can be published live.
There is a second option which can be used to instantly publish your content. If you click on the “Live” button above the content stream in your dashboard, it redirects you to a Live Blog domain where you can both preview your coverage and even publish it there directly if you don’t have your own website.
Step 4: Post Content For Publication
Providing fast, minute-by-minute coverage of live breaking news stories such as terrorism, disasters, and accidents is sometimes referred to as “what we know, what we don’t know”.
For example, let’s say there was a plane crash in the French Alps – this much we know. However, the reasons behind the crash, the identity of the passengers, if there are any survivors – this much we don’t yet know. Since the coverage for these kinds of stories is often in the form of bullet points or a similar structure, the most common practice is to post a main headline followed by additional updates as they become available.
When creating a post, you can add text, images/videos, or other forms of multimedia such as embeds and quotes in the “ADD CONTENT HERE” box. Clicking on the text above or below the box allows you to change the type of media that you would like to use. You can also include additional media in a post by clicking this same option below your text and then dragging and dropping media into the post.
The “CHOOSE POST TYPE” option provides you with a number of templates for different types of content, ranging from news coverage of elections and sports to advertisements.
Once you’ve added some content, options will appear at the bottom: “PUBLISH”, “SUBMIT”, and “SAVE DRAFT”. All team members can offer contributions to the blog by using the “SUBMIT” function, and this allows the editor to review, edit, and curate items before publishing them. In the previous image, you’ll notice a notification of a new submission in the “Contributions” inbox on the left of the screen, which is where all submissions are stored as drafts for editors. Depending on your user role, you may be able to publish directly on the blog by using the “PUBLISH” function.
If you choose not to publish or submit, but would rather save unfinished or ongoing work, click on “SAVE DRAFT”. Anything saved as a draft is only visible to you.
Step 5: Make Sure Your Readers Get The Right Content
As an editor, it’s important to make sure that your readers always have access to the most important information, no matter when they start reading. Editors can “Highlight” or “Pin” posts both when reviewing a contribution or after an item has been published to the live blog stream. The icons for these actions appear at the top-right of a draft or post.
Pinned posts will always remain at the top of your blog stream, while those which you highlight are marked with a gold star. What makes highlighted posts really useful is that they can become instant curated content. To see how this works, click the “Live” option from Step 2 to preview the blog. Then once you click on the highlighted post option next to “COMMENT”, all highlighted posts will be grouped into a list for your subscribers.
Step 6: Refine Your Audience Engagement Strategy
A great way to engage with your community is to utilise Live Blog’s User Comments feature. Comments encourage readers to return to a site to follow a discussion or debate. By paying attention to what people are saying, you will also gain insight into the quality of your blog as well as your editorial strategy, and this can be used to develop future blog topics. You may also be able to incorporate direct user feedback in real time, including eyewitness reports or accounts of what other news agencies and sources of information are reporting.
Want more info? Have a look at the Live Blog manual.
For tips on ways to popularise your live coverage, check out this blog post.
June 28, 2017
5 Tips To Boost Engagement and Popularise Your Live Blog
by Anthony Covalciuc | Jun 28, 2017
So, you’ve now got your Live Blog up and running; you’re impressed by its intuitive, easy-to-use interface and excited about the quality and quantity of syndicated content. The next logical step to get the most out of your blogging software is to attract and maintain an engaged, regular audience.
Wondering how to increase traffic and engagement for your blog? Not to worry, here are 5 tips from some of the top live blogging professionals. In particular, we’d like to thank Paul Bradshaw, who runs the MA Data Journalism and MA Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism at Birmingham City University and authored the book The Online Journalism Handbook, for sharing his insights with us.
Tip 1: Prepare – Try To Avoid Making It Up As You Go
Coming up with material ad hoc is not the best practice for maintaining a successful live blog. Even though events unfolding in real time often leave little to no opportunity to prepare, there will inevitably be in-between moments where not much is happening. During these times, it’s important for you to have at some relevant material prepared in advance, general knowledge on the topic you’re covering, and reliable contacts who can assist you.
That way, you can offer your visitors supplementary information in the form of other articles, quotes, statistics, and photos (to name just a few). This will make your blogging experience more exciting and less nerve wracking, not vice versa!
Tip 2: Be Relevant – Ensure That Your Live Coverage Provides Value
The networking nature of live blogging is one of its most distinguishing qualities. That is to say, while you cover breaking news or an event, any number of individuals or media agencies may be blogging and/or covering it too – as well as watching it on TV. Prior to dedicating the time needed to make a good live blog, it’s important to ascertain whether or not your coverage will provide value and be able to capture an audience.
One way to accomplish this is to see what syndicated content is being shared in your ecosystem. This should give you a good idea of what other agencies collectively feel is relevant news for your followers. In addition, making use of Live Blog’s analytics feature will reveal, especially over a period of time, what kind of stories attract readers and keep their attention.
Tip 3: Be Accurate – Make Certain You Post Verified Facts
It is of the utmost importance that you publish accurate, verified information. Therefore, you must be careful when the live event you’re covering features disputable facts or different perspectives of events. This particular problem is common during elections, when anyone and everyone can have an opinion. In these cases, it’s critical to establish procedures which allow you to verify that what is being said is actually true.
Similarly, if you happen to be covering volatile situations such as demonstrations, riots, or something similar, you will find any number of varying perspectives about what is happening and why. These circumstances put you under pressure to confirm the hard facts surrounding the situation.
In both cases, having a reliable reporter or reporters who can conduct the necessarily research and provide you with accurate information is usually the best option. If you don’t have your own reporters, once again we recommend that you consult the syndicated content within your ecosystem to find out which information a variety of sources agree upon and choose to publish.
Tip 4: Differentiate Yourself – Provide Your Audience With Rich Insights
A common live blogging mistake – and one that will leave your blog with little to no value – is to simply make note of what is occurring. Many other coverage providers are doing exactly this, so you should give special consideration to filtering, aggregating, and posting only the most insightful content. Together with this curated content, provide some analysis on what is happening. Some questions to consider are: why is this information important or not important? What insights does it provide for the topic that you are writing about?
It’s also a good idea to supplement your live coverage and analysis with multimedia. Adding multimedia enriches the quality your coverage. Some examples of this come in the form of audio, video, or social media.
Tip 5: Socialize – Encourage Your Audience To Participate
Given their instantaneous nature and multimedia structure, live blogs are the perfect opportunity for you to interact with your viewers, so make sure that readers are able to comment and share. Not only will they feel more connected and involved in the experience, but they will also provide you with additional content and inspiration.
Good thing that Live Blog comes with a User Comments feature. Now you can engage and interact with your audience in real time.
Follow Paul on Twitter @paulbradshaw.
April 6, 2017
Live Blogging: Take Your Elections Coverage to the Next Level
by Anthony Covalciuc | Apr 6, 2017
In the coming months, several European countries will start electing (and possibly replacing) their current political figures. In particular, this year is seen by many as a crucial one for the future of the European Union, with the elections in France and Germany leading the charge. The recent general elections in the Netherlands and last year’s political events in the US serve as strong examples of how news organisations must adapt to the changing demands of their clients and the technological resources they use in order to provide moment-by-moment coverage of live events.
It’s in moments like these when a blogging tool like Sourcefabric’s Live Blog bridges the gap between the substantial amount of content and the consumer need for up-to-the-minute updates.
Apart from its ability to instantly synthesize and share live breaking news content such as polling results, party tweets, quotes, and coverage of live streams – all done by posting a link or using the embed feature – Live Blog 3.1 has recently been outfitted with several new live blogging tools which optimise breaking news coverage. This provides viewers and readers with engaging, minute-by-minute content.
Custom Post Types – Show Percentages as They Arrive
Among the new features is the Custom Post Types, a free-types management tool which gives you creative freedom over how to present the latest news best-suited to your coverage (available for Live Blog instances of type Team or higher). When you cover the French elections, one of the uses of the free-types tool would be to create custom-designed posts for all the party names in color-coded, image-containing graphs or charts. As the polling results change with each passing moment, all you need to do is simply add the percentage to your blog feed and then publish it for your audience.
Another suggestion is to document voter turnout, and these blog statistics can further be configured in terms of time, location, or any other metric you see fit. These are just some examples of how current political news can be illustrated, and apart from requiring some basic HTML knowledge, the ability for blog editors to get the most out of this tool is limited only by their imagination.
Image Slideshows – Take Your Audience on a Visual Tour
Another addition to our live blogging platform is Image Slideshows, a handy tool for when images are the primary interest of your subscribers. Photographs possess the ability to tell a story with more impact, and as was often the case for the Dutch and US elections, the photo was the story. This feature is not limited to just one image per post, but rather you can organise and present an array of images in the form of collections, giving your content the beautiful look of a magazine. Everything from photos of the candidates to peoples’ reactions in the streets can be neatly curated, captioned, and presented as a visual tour of the latest news on politics.
Highlight and Pin Posts – Prioritize Your Information
Blog editors will also find the Highlight and Pin Posts option especially useful for making certain that the most important political news is given priority and made easy-to-access for subscribers. Highlighted and pinned posts are an easy entry point to the most decisive moments of political coverage that may get lost in the constant stream of data (notice the gold star on the post below).
All of these new live blogging tools are part of Sourcefabric’s commitment to open source software, a commitment which empowers our partners to take full and complete ownership of their product. Live Blog has a simple, straightforward, and intuitive interface that lets you focus on what you do best: tell a story.
Made by Journalists for Journalists
Since its inception in 2012, Live Blog has undergone numerous upgrades, all of them made possible through strong partnerships. Our live blogging software was originally developed alongside the Global Editors Network (GEN), a strong indication that all its features are designed for and committed to media innovation and sustainable journalism.
Quality content and consumer engagement are the top priorities for any journalist, therefore any tool designed for and used by journalists must first adhere to these quality standards. In 2016, Sourcefabric partnered up with the Google Digital News Initiative Innovation Fund (DNI). Together with DNI, we used Live Blog as the foundation for our Live Coverage Ecosystem project, a partnership which also includes two leading European news agencies: Germany’s dpa and the Spanish news agency EFE.
*There are no strings attached. If you like it, great! If not, no problem, you can cancel your Live Blog account at any time during the trial period.
Live Blog in Action
*All the above values for the French elections are fictional and only meant to give you an idea of how to utilize your Live Blog.
Live Blog Clients Include:
March 15, 2017
Live News: The All New Live Blog 3.1 is Here
by Anthony Covalciuc | Mar 15, 2017
The latest release of Live Blog comes with great new features like scorecards for sporting events, analytics and custom-defined blog post types.
Over the past few years, Live Blog’s fan base has been growing in the world of news media.
Christoph Dernbach, head of dpa-Infocom, calls it “a robust, open and flexible tool for live coverage.”
Jenni Sargent, managing director of First Draft News says Live Blog is “a brilliant and super flexible live blogging platform that allows us to experiment with different ways of sharing information in real time.”
Now we’re about to raise everybody’s live blogging game, with the release of Live Blog 3.1.
Open Source Live Blogging Made for You
Live Blog 3.1 is packed with new features. We’re already planning to develop some of them even further, so keep your ideas coming:
- Scorecards: This is our starting point into the world of data visualisation. We know you’ll enjoy using scorecards to provide an instant tally of who scored a goal and in what minute. But we’re also curious about how we can build on this to provide even more value to your sports coverage.
- Image slideshows: Whether you’re reporting on awards shows or major weather events, multiple images are must-haves for certain stories. Live Blog supports this feature now with the Classic theme 2.3.45. Upload one picture after the other in a single post and publish them to the timeline. The Classic theme will then display the thumbnails of these pictures in a clickable gallery. Viewers can enlarge them and click through the whole image slideshow.
- Analytics: As soon as you update to version 3.1 of Live Blog and version 2.3.45 of the Classic theme, you will be able to see the number of unique visits to all of your blogs in the new analytics section on your Live Blog instance.
- Native and remote ad options: Since live blogging is a labour-intensive form of reporting, with two or three editors needed to cover an event and curate all social media content at the same time, it’s important to get the most value out of your live news coverage.
With release 3.1, including ads in your blog is easy. You can either add an advertisement zone from your ad provider into a post and publish it to the timeline or create a native advertising consisting of text, image and a link target. This is also a feature we’d like to get your feedback on, since we are already working on a more elaborate ad management interface.
- Custom post types – free types*: With the free types manager you can create custom post types, all you need is some basic knowledge of HTML to design your very own blog post templates. You could use them for reporting the results of an election, or maybe another type of local contest with its own running tally. It’s up to you.
* Not available for Live Blog Solo and Live Blog Solo Mobile
Two options for live blogging: DIY or Pro
If you don’t have your own real time blog yet, now is the time to get started. Along with adding new features to Live Blog 3.1, we have also launched a web-based LiveBlog.pro service.
New users can start their Live Blog subscription with two weeks free by signing up here. A variety of subscription options come tailored for different live blogging teams and goals.
Meanwhile, Live Blog itself remains free and open source, so you can still download the code and host it on your own servers. Check it out on GitHub.