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NNL Cover It Live

October 5, 2009

Cover It Live used to be a secret. Hardly any media outlets utilized the live blogging tool. Now it is everywhere, but is it used correctly?

CIL allows for a reporter to, well, report live from anywhere. It is a play-by-play of any event – not just sports. (On Tuesday night, I’ll live blog on CIL from the Village of Hempstead (N.Y.) bi-weekly meeting.) CIL allows users to interact with the reporter and with each other. Some sites (don’t remember which) discourage full audience participation, even going as far as saying CIL isn’t a “chat room.” It isn’t a chat room as AOL’s chat rooms of the 1990s, no, but it is a guided and topical discussion space.

CIL is best used as team coverage. It allows for multiple writers and sanctioned contributors that don’t need approval to post thoughts (guests require the producers to approve comments.) CIL incorporates multimedia by not only allowing a reporter to integrate video and photos into the live blog by uploading and using YouTube, but enables live video viewing via UStream. This will give users the ability to click on a link to follow along on video while following the text and contributing.

CIL incorporates social media by allowing producers to bring in Twitter users into the conversation. This allows for easy cross-posting into Twitter and CIL to provide the most reach and build the best conversation, but it also allows for producers to include tweets with particular search terms. (I cautioned producers when using search terms, because it can bring in unrelated content and inappropriate comments. Twitter feeds are not subject to approval.)

If using on a blog, it is recommended to use CIL Enterprise that allows producers to instantly begin a CIL session, keep the same writers by creating groups, and, most importantly, maintains embed codes. There is no need to swap embed codes with CIL Enterprise. Also, Enterprise will display archived CIL content in the tool as well.

Nassau News Live and its parent Nassau News has used CIL since the fall of 2007. We’ve live blogged Super Tuesday 2008, the final presidential debate of 2008 (at Hofstra), college basketball games, lectures and meetings.

My nerdy journalistic vision for CIL is to have a reporter at a village or city meeting and gather questions from the virtual audience not in attendance. After all, journalism is about serving the public and giving that public a voice. Now it can be done in real-time.

Over the course of the year, Nassau News Live will provide numerous opportunities to participate and give a glimpse into the future of journalism. We are working on how to keep a conversation going for days at a time on a particular important topic. We’ve tried a few times, and haven’t seen results, but if we keep going and keep trying, maybe we will.

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