There was a lot of live-tweeting going on today in Edinburgh from the city council’s meeting regarding its tram project. Live-tweeting is, in my view anyway, a new-ish way of telling stories, so why not make that today’s post.
To see live-tweeting in action, click here on the #EdinburghTrams hashtag.
I’ve heard some print reporters complaining about live-tweeting. They grumble that it’s not really journalism. I’d argue that it’s reporting, just in a different way. Sure it’s easier, anyone can do it and sometimes results in errors being retweeted. But done skillfully and carefully, it can define a story – hours ahead of a prehistoric print deadline.
Livetweeting is a bit like Marmite. You either love it or hate it. I used to hate Marmite, but recently I found Bovril and, applied in the right way, found that it’s yummy on toast. Similarly, I used to hate livetweeting, because the majority of it – that I could see anyway – involved folk giving us updates on Dr Who or The Apprentice.
But then, as with the Bovirl, I saw it applied in a different way when I started following more newsy people on Twitter.
For example, Paul Lewis of the Guardian more than doubled his number of followers while live tweeting each night from the recent rioting in London. As he wondered the streets, darting between flashpoints, you could sense the tension of the situation and the vulnerability of a reporter in the midst of it all. Although he couldn’t be everywhere at once, his first hand accounts of small elements painted a big picture of one of the news events of the year.
While lots of people were tweeting from the England riots, another of this year’s huge news stories was initially only covered on Twitter by one person, who was initially unaware of how big the story was. It began as a complaint about helicopter noise. Over the next dozen or so tweets about explosions and gunfire, it didn’t take long for Sohaib Athar, an IT consultant staying in Abbottabad, to realise he had been live-tweeting a major event – the attack which killed Osama Bin Laden.
Below is a link to a Storify (mentioned in yesterday’s post) which shows you Athar’s tweets about the attack.
To say why you love or hate live-tweeting, feel free to comment below. If anyone votes I’ll stick the poll results up in a week.