Introducing Rock Content’s newest feature: LiveArticle

    For many newsrooms, liveblogging has become the defacto method of reporting from the field. Most still follow-up their live coverage with traditional, pyramid-style articles. But what if, instead of writing a post-event wrapup, you write it during the event, and let your audience in on it? Enter the next incarnation of live coverage: LiveArticle.

    Rock Content’s LiveArticle allows journalists to collaborate on articles in real time by knocking down traditional barriers to collaborative publishing. LiveArticle is a companion to your liveblog; the public sees it on top of the live feed [UPDATE: LiveArticle is now available as a stand-alone embed]. In the back end, it runs alongside the liveblog. A writer – or a group of writers – can click and drag any liveblog content into the live article, while adding their own text to weave all the pieces together. You can publish drafts of the article as you go. In other words, your readers no longer have to wait for you to file a post-event summary piece to get to the story’s juicy bits.

    In this video, Rock Content CTO Jonathan Keebler demonstrates how LiveArticle works:

    Collaborative publishing

    More than one writer can contribute to the same LiveArticle. You may have another reporter helping to contribute, or an editor checking what you’re doing and adding more context or links. You can choose at what point your article gets published out to the public. Same goes when you’re updating it. Click “preview” to see what the article will look like, and “publish” to send it out to readers. A popup will display the LiveArticle with all the recent changes highlighted, and ask you to confirm. Click “OK” and your changes will automatically slide into the LiveArticle web page, and the reader doesn’t have to refresh the page to see them. Best of all? Each and every bit of content is produced in fully indexable HTML, so Google and other search engines will send readers your way.

    What can go into a LiveArticle?

    Draw in content from a variety of sources, including everything you can publish in a Rock Content blog. The list is extensive: text, links, photos, videos, audio files, e-mails, reader comments, flash embeds, webcam, voicemails, SMS, Facebook statuses and tweets. You can bold, italicize and add hyperlinks. Rock Content maintains any formatting and links and gives attribution where it’s due. It also automatically re-sizes media files to fit whatever device readers are viewing it on, so reporters can focus on telling the story.

    LiveArticle in action

    LiveArticle puts the storytelling process in front of the readers as the story is unveiled paragraph by paragraph. During a soccer game, a news organization can publish a to-the-minute article that updates with each shot at the net, for those fans that don’t have the time to follow the liveblog.

    When a fire broke out in Los Alamos, it quickly consumed tens of thousands of acres. Anyone who wanted a real-time analysis of where the fire was – and where it was headed – need only head over to a LiveArticle published by KOAT (pictured left). The article sat on top of their consistently-updated liveblog, and featured a video of a reporter on the scene and photo of firefighters in action along with text that provided context and quotes from Los Alamos’ Fire Chief and other experts.

    Using LiveArticle, the KOAT editorial team were able to divvy up the story amongst them, while all working on the article at the same time. A team of reporters on the ground provided quotes from the fire chief and mayor, interviews with citizens and firefighters and a constant stream of photos and videos. Back in the newsroom, editors created a map that outlined the current boundaries of the blaze, so that readers could easily see where the fires were headed – the map was updated again and again throughout the week (For example, “Northeast – Crews are working to contain the fire using burnout methods to prevent the fire from spreading north of Pajarito Road and east of Highway 501.”). Editors also filled the LiveArticle with the latest traffic updates, evacuation orders and information on the progress of firefighting crews. The story was fluid, evolving as each new bit of information came in.

    Readers new the story could quickly catch up on the latest developments with LiveArticle, and then dive right into the live blog: it’s the play-by-play to LiveArticle’s curated report.

    There’s plenty of other ways to use LiveArticle. Covering a technology conference? Each earth-shattering product announcement can be thrown into a LiveArticle page as you liveblog, so incoming readers get the biggest breaking news right away. Or wait until the story is done to publish the wrap-up directly onto the liveblog. It can also act as a repository for all the important bits you want to flag for your own reference – you don’t have to publish it if you don’t want to.

    In this world of first-past-the-post reporting, you’ll have a story published before your competitors have time to write the headline. How you use it is up to you.

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