Live Blogs outperform other online news formats by up to 300%

Live Blogs more transparent, trusted and ‘factual’ than conventional online news, according to research by City University London.

Researchers from City University London have found that Live Blogs are getting 300% more views and 233% more visitors than conventional online news articles on the same subject. They also outperform online picture galleries, getting 219% more visitors.

Live Blogs relay commentary and analysis as news is unfolding rather than summarising an event after it has finished. The transparent nature of the format means that readers feel the information they receive is more objective, and less ‘opinion based’.

Dr Neil Thurman and Anna Walters, from the University’s Journalism School, studied Live Blogs at Guardian.co.uk. Theirs is the first major study to look at Live Blogging, which is becoming the default format for covering major breaking news stories, sports events, and scheduled news – like the US presidential election – on the web.

Dr Thurman said “We believe Live Blogs are so popular because they meet readers’ changing news consumption preferences. More and more news is being consumed at work, in the office. Live Blogs provide this ‘news-at-work’ audience with what they’re looking for: regular follow-up information on breaking news in ‘bite-sized nuggets’ which they can read, as several readers told us, while they are supposed to be working”.

The authors found that readers liked the convenience of Live Blogs because they could follow a story from a single page rather than having to drill down into a website.

Thurman and Walters also looked at how Live Blogs were produced. They found that because Live Blogging journalists work so fast – publishing updates every 20 minutes for six hours straight – there is little time for fact-checking. Despite this, readers feel that Live Blogs are “less opinion based and more factual” than traditional articles.

Dr Thurman said “readers see Live Blogs as a more objective news format. The looser culture of corroboration is offset by Live Blogs’ use of a relatively large number of sources, and transparent citation and correction practices”.

The authors also found that readers are twice as likely to participate with Live Blogs than other article types, although Dr Thurman advises users who want their opinions published to use Twitter or to target Sport Live Blogs. “Live Blogs that cover cricket and football are more than 20 times more likely to integrate readers’ opinions than Live Blogs on other news topics. What’s more Live Blogging journalists are three times more likely to include readers’ Tweets than any remarks they add to the comment sections of Live Blogs”, he said.

For further information, please see the original article published in ‘Digital Journalism’: http://tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21670811.2012.714935

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