Magazine article Communication World

Live-Blogging Goes, Well, Live: Bloggers Are Posting Their Comments on Conferences and More in Real Time. Does That Give You a Rush or a Migraine?

Magazine article Communication World

Live-Blogging Goes, Well, Live: Bloggers Are Posting Their Comments on Conferences and More in Real Time. Does That Give You a Rush or a Migraine?

Article excerpt

If you could avoid the jet lag and long taxicab lines, and save the cost of a souped-up laptop, would you skip going to a trade conference and choose to "attend" it online? That seems to be the sticking point about allowing digital media free rein at events, where bloggers and video bloggers come out in force.

Until a few years ago, conference blogging involved a time lag and fell into the broad category of event blogging. This included commentary on blogs, pictures uploaded to a Flickr account, for example, and unedited video posted to, say, YouTube. Today, the time lag has all but disappeared because of some nifty developments including speech-to-text (making it easy for a slow typist to dictate posts to a blog) and unobtrusive blogging via a smart phone with a QWERTY keypad. It is even possible for a blogger to train a high-resolution web cam at a presenter and stream a multimedia presentation to an outside web site.

But these advances have meant that sponsors lose control over content. That gives some people an adrenaline rush and others a migraine. Let's deal with the migraine first: There is the loss of revenue to conference organizers, and the ethical and legal ramifications of letting someone retransmit conference material without the approval of the presenter. Live-blogging means that an undisclosed blogger essentially is capable of hacking into one of the greatest value propositions a conference has: its content.

On the other hand, Rohit Bhargava represents those who get the adrenaline rush from this sort of thing. He's a public speaker as well as vice president of Ogilvy PR's Interactive group, 360[degrees] Digital Influence, based in Washington, D.C. Isn't he a tad concerned that some blogger in the audience could misrepresent his presentation? "I actually very much enjoy that," he says, "because, having recently had an experience of live-blogging an event, I would say it requires more concentration on what a speaker is saying rather than less."

More discipline, not less

Bhargava feels that even for someone who is not live-blogging but doing the equivalent of tape-delayed reporting, writing for an online audience imposes discipline. Other communicators see problems as non-journalists assume a reporting function just because the technology allows them to do so.

My colleague, IABC Fellow Wilma Mathews, ABC, APR, also a public speaker, doesn't have a problem with blogging, but has concerns about live-blogging being in the territory of live transmission of audio and video. There are legal implications and precedents, she says. Does this get us into the messy territory of intellectual property? "It can, and especially so if there is no permission for dissemination of the presentation to an external audience, and/or if an external audience perceives the material that they receive to be the product of the blogger," she says. "Live-blogging is another form of broadcasting. If a radio station wanted to come in and broadcast my session live, I'd probably say no. Live-bloggers should register as media."

To address intellectual property issues, IABC has always sought the written approval of speakers to have their conference sessions tape-recorded, since these sessions would be sold. Why should a live blog be treated any differently? Conference organizers, suggests Mathews, should consider using the criteria already in place for audio/video. "If there is a financial gain to the person taping or blogging the session, then there should be preapproval by the speaker," she says. …

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