ARTICLE: Live-blogged news are harder to follow

Untitled by Alexas_Fotos, licence CC0 1.0

Live-blogging is an increasingly popular, speedy genre of online news delivery. The format, however, is more difficult to follow than the traditional “inverted pyramid”, Angela Lee, of University of Texas at Dallas, writes. Lee conducted an online experiment with 220 Americans, in which they were presented with either live-blogged or inverted pyramid versions of news stories and then surveyed over their impressions.

The author investigated the story format’s effects on several variables: the credibility of the story, the reader’s willingness to pay for and read similar content in the future, and the perceived readability of the story. Lee also asked the participants to estimate how much of the story they actually read; reading only parts of a story is an indication of what is known as “selective scanning”, a practice known to weaken comprehension.

The participants assessed the live-blogged story versions to be less “readable” than the traditional versions. Contrary to Lee’s expectations, the format seemed to have no effect on the other variables.

Live-blogs’ readability could be improved by allowing the readers to invert the stories’ chronological order, the author suggests. Usually live-blogs progress by adding the newest updates first, at the top of the page. However, most participants in Lee’s study (64 to 72 per cent, depending on the story) indicated they read live-blogged stories “from bottom-up”, i.e. from the oldest update to the latest.

The manuscript “The Faster the Better? Examining the Effect of Live-Blogging on Audience Reception” has been accepted for publication by the Journal of Applied Journalism & Media Studies. The author has made the manuscript available on (open access).

Picture: Untitled by Alexas_Fotos, licence CC0 1.0.

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