Saturday, December 22, 2012

12 Apps of Christmas: newspapers adopt live blogging to provide up-to-the-minute reporting of breaking news

The Twelve Days of Christmas runs from Christmas Day to the evening of January 5th, or Twelfth Night. But TNM's 12 Apps of Christmas, which began on Tuesday, will look at significant media apps (or trends) released this year. We look at May today, continuing the series through New Year's Eve.

May was a month where the news was dominated by news from the newspaper industry, and none of its seemed to be good, whether here in the U.S., or overseas.

All month News International was in the news as its executives faced grilling in hearings named after the lead investigator, the Leveson Inquiry. During May Rebekah Brooks, the former head of News International, the U.K. division of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. was charged with obstruction of justice.

In the U.S., the big news in May for the newspaper industry was the decision by Advance Publications to cut back the frequency of its daily newspapers in the South, including the well-respected New Orleans daily, The Times-Picayune. On May 24 Advance said that it would create a new company that would be "digitally focused" – though no new digital initiatives were announced at the time.

Atlantic Media said in May that it would launch a new online business brand, Quartz. Atlantic Media immediately began recruiting for the new digital property and so far the results seem to be good.

Early in the month the editor in chief of Technology Review, Jason Pontin, made news by posting his experiences with creating and launch an app for the title. Some tech writers, who already were skeptical of native tablet editions, jumped on the post as proof that native apps were a dead-end.

Mike Haney of Mag+ responded with a blog post of his own which appeared on TNM that begged to differ:

"I would argue," Haney wrote, "that many existing print publications will not find a way to make a profitable business by delivering the exact same package of content they do in print—however enhanced or redesigned—and certainly not until there’s a real advertising ecosystem in place.

The next week TNM posted a response from Erik Schut, president of WoodWing Software, also refuting the editor's post. Schut admitted that creating engaging new tablet editions involved additional work, but he warned that "if publishers don’t bring an engaging tablet experience they can be sure new players will step in and disrupt the market."
With all that, I think the thing I will remember May for, however, is that way newspaper websites began to use live blogging as a regular part of online news experience.

On May 10 I pointed out to two live blogs: The Guardian's live blog of the Leveson inquiry which featured the testimony of Andy Coulseon, the former editor of the News of the World and the former communications director for the Tories; and the live blog being authored by Damian Mac Con Uladh for The Athens News, which is chronicling the efforts of the political parties to form a government and avoid a second round of elections.

Later the New York Times created a brand for its live blogging efforts called The Lede which has been used most recently, we're sad to say, to cover the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.