The co-construction of news through live blogging

At the Neo-journalism conference, Nathalie Pignard-Cheynel of Université Stendhal, Grenoble, presented a study in live coverage conducted with Brigitte Sebbah of the Université de’Metz.

The researchers were looking at whether live coverage, or live blogs, can be considered a new form of reporting.

For the study, they examined live coverage by Le Monde of the DSK case, which offered an explosive cocktail of sex, politics and power. They looked at 40 hours of continuous coverage with 800 messages, a third from the audience.

Live coverage using tools such as CoveritLive started in France around 2009-2010, initially in sports, and has proved popular with audiences.

The potential of live coverage is to report in near real-time and bring an event to life, explaining and contextualising it as it happens, says Pignard-Cheynel.

Live coverage exists both as a temporal real-time account of an event but also as an archive of how the news unfolded.

The live blog included 60% of messages from the editorial team, 36% from the audience and 4% from journalists on the scene, mainly via Twitter.

The researchers found half of the messages from users were questions about the news, seeking further information. A third were links or information sharing.

One thing they noticed about the DSK case was the lack of facts during the 40 hours of live coverage. Instead there was mostly a discussion about the case and the issues it raised.

The researchers concluded that journalists are juggling speculative reports versus confirmed information.

The live blog showed journalism in process, with the journalists saying at times admitting they didn’t know something or talking about how they were tired.

This form of coverage shows the news in the process of co-construction and tends to demystify the work of the journalist, with the audience integrated, virtually, into the newsroom, suggest the researchers.