All the world’s a live blog

When big news breaks these days, it’s become standard for news outlets to launch live blogs – streams of short, frequent updates that capture the action and reaction minute-by-minute – on their websites. Het Financieele Dagblad’s deputy editor Roy op het Veld summed it up recently when he tweeted: “Is er nog een nieuwsmedium zonder liveblog?” (“Is there any news outlet left without a live blog?”)

It was a reminder of journalism’s transformation in recent years. Once, only newswires competed to deliver real-time updates – with news alerts (‘snaps’) timed against rivals to fractions of seconds, with careers made and broken by reporters’ speed. I remember hanging dry-mouthed on the end of a landline for Reuters in the 1990s, waiting side-by-side with Bloomberg and Dow Jones for a company spokeswoman to appear with the full-year results release so we could race to phone the snaps into our newsrooms. In the adjoining meeting room, newspaper journalists sat sipping coffee as they awaited the press conference, calm in the knowledge their once-a-day deadlines were many hours away.

Those days are over. Now, everyone’s deadline is now. All news outlets are news agencies these days – that’s why, as Op het Veld implied, it’s unthinkable for them notto start live blogs when big news breaks. But it goes even further: anyone with a social media account can be their own news agency now. Everyone vies with everyone to broadcast news to the world. On Twitter’s 10-year birthday this week, commentators noted how sharing news has largely replaced the soft personal updates that made up so many early Tweets.

The implications for corporate communicators are immense. Whether you have good news to share, or bad news you’d rather muffle, the world is a live blog that is racing to spread the word.

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