Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Looking At Live Blogs, What Makes A Good One (US Politics Today)

There are two ways to read a live blog.  You can read one while it's updating, and you can read it as an archive.  If it's a good live blog, chances are it's going to be informative and entertaining no matter when you read it.  It can also help later readers trying to understand an event from the perspective of someone who lived it.  They are not meant to be perfectly objective.  To illustrate the difference between good an bad live blogs, lets compare three that covered Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity last Saturday.

To demonstrate a live blog gone wrong, I bring you the New York times.

Yup, you're seeing it right.  The staff of the NYT tried to cover a funny event, on a dynamic platform, in an essentially impersonal and objective way.  The writer figures it out about halfway through the rally, but too little too late.  The entries are long, number and stat obsessed, and generally read like the minutes of a very large board meeting.  That doesn't mean that there aren't a few anecdotes mixed in, but they're always discussed in the third person.  This style of writing is off putting in this format. 

Another thing, the headline states that "thousands attended," but nearly every media outlet agrees that at least 150,000 showed, with the CBC claiming 250,000.  That's just cowardly.

Now that we've defined what makes for a bad live blog, it's easier to explain what makes The Guardian's a good one.  The Guardian isn't obsessed with objectivity, which makes sense, since the paper is generally seen as left of the U.S.'s center.  There's more information, more multimedia, and tons of outgoing links.  It's fun to read.

The Huffington Post also covered the event, but their website is so awful that it's a headache trying to read it.  It's better than the NYT live blog, more partisan, and chock full of video.

The Guardian's is better.

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