Watching the live broadcast of polling results on election night is an exciting event, but the experience of watching it leisurely and for oneself, is a completely different experience than watching it as a journalist and covering the event and reporting the live results. Covering any event as it is being broadcasted live as a journalist puts a great deal of pressure to be thorough and accurate. I found this task to be extremely stressful and much more difficult than I initially expected, learning many different aspects of what makes a successful reporter and live blogger.
Unlike watching a live event for myself, in order to provide readers with detailed and correct information, I had to switch over to using multiple platforms of broadcasting shortly after I begun. While I watched the results live on my television, I also had my ipad on standby to confirm results, find the names and numbers that I may have missed when announcing on the television, but I found that with the new age of live blogging and a digitalized world of communication and broadcasting, the aid of fellow bloggers and twitter users were an essential source to filling in gaps of information to keep up with the demanding speed of covering a live event.
While browsing through examples of other live bloggers, I saw that there were different styles reporters chose to cover, varying in the depth of posts and how frequent their page was updated. Most reporters, such as Bruce Japsen with Forbes magazine would post an average of 15-30 minutes, providing the most essential facts, but taking more time to go into detail. In the beginning of the assignment, I posted everything, because I thought being thorough made me a good reporter. I thought that my audience wouldn’t just be in one state, but all over, so I tried to cover extensive results in all states as best as I could rather than focusing on a few larger states. I found that being a frequent poster did more damage than good, even though it requires more work. Tiny details that realistically almost no one will care about are useless chunks of information, but also take away focus from more important information. About an hour into the event, I realized too much time was spent on posting details that weren’t even that important, that would make readers uninterested, and have to sift through insignificant information, and took time away that could be spent on writing more thoughtful and in depth posts about more important events.
While covering the 2014 midterm election night imagining I was working as a live blogger, I thought a lot about what makes a good reporter, and why people would choose to follow my account to get their news, over all the other blogs covering the same event. Anyone with a television and a platform of social media have the opportunity to live blog this event, what could I post to make myself as a reporter unique and different from all the competition? While reporting observations and objective information is what people are looking for, I found that I was more likely to follow one website over another if they provided posts that summarized research and prior knowledge about what was going on currently. Reporters that would explain what the results of a race means (what it entails for the state, if one party was controlling more and if this was an expected or surprising outcome, if there was a change in parties-why?) gives the reader more background information and a better understanding of the results. I think anyone can report what they see on TV, type it up, and just spit back out the same thing they just saw. But pulling information from a multitude of sources gives readers one place to receive many different perspectives of the same topic. By giving an analysis and more detailed information, the author is doing the research so the reader doesn’t have to, and if he or she is accurate, will make him or her more reputable as a writer and a news reporter.
One of the many issues I came across for the first time as my first live blogging experience was managing the stress of high speed situations. At times, results would pour in simultaneously (ie. updates from several different states, with several different winners of the electoral race, etc…) Not only did I have to type in observations, and the results in coherent sentences to be read by followers, but at times, I began to fall behind while watching the television, and then I had to catch up to the next announcement, but by the time I was typing the next announcement, I was already falling behind on the one after that, and it became a cycle of playing catch up. In the beginning, stressing about missing information would be a self-fullfilling prophet and just make me miss more things, but in the end I realized that if I missed information, I could either make it up at a later time, or if I missed it, then I missed it, and stressing out about it does nothing to help and only further causes trouble.
I was very surprised by how difficult this assignment was, and I think many underestimate the commitment of writers that are live-blogging. As demanding and stressful as it was, I got a lot of my information and many of my sources came from live-bloggers. They are putting out some of the world’s first info available online on a certain event, and live-blogging definitely helps gain popularity (in readers and followers), and requires a certain journalistic skill that is becoming increasingly necessary in the digitalized world.
Attached is a file of timestamped notes I took for this assignment.