Live Blogging Lab

For today’s lab exercise, you will live-blog President Obama’s recent prime-time speech regarding the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq.

You will use a free service called CoverItLive, which is used by many journalism organizations to provide running coverage of live events. Remember the Dallas Morning News’ live winter weather chat that we talked about in class? Your classmate Meredith Shamburger also uses CoverItLive to live blog about the SMU Student Senate. Take a few minutes to look over these examples.

First, register for CoverItLive. Enter your first and last name as your screen name, and feel free to upload an avatar if you want. Sign up for the basic CoverItLive service. Schedule an event for about 15 minutes from now, give it the title “Live Blog Lab: Obama Speech” and copy the embed code.

Log on to your push post page on the course blog. On the bottom of your push page (underneath week 10), copy the embed code and save the changes. Check the new page to make sure that the link takes you to your scheduled blog/chat.

The speech lasts about 20 minutes. For your live-blog entries, you can paraphrase the president’s comments, use direct quotes, provide links or share your own journalistic observations. (Whether you personally agree with Obama doesn’t matter … you are simply trying to bring context to your readers who are following the speech.)

OK, now it’s time to activate your chat. In the control panel, go to “Upcoming Events” and click “Launch Event Now.” Write an introductory post introducing yourself to readers, letting them know that you’ll start blogging as soon as Obama hits the air. As you wait, read this ABC News preview of the speech (hey, you might even want to share the link with your readers!). Some other links you may find relevant to share with your readers as the speech goes on: an Al Jazeera story on Vice President Joe Biden’s surprise visit to Iraq hours before Obama’s speech; a Christian Science Monitor story about Bob Woodward’s new book on debates within the Obama administration regarding the Afghanistan war; and a Washington Post fashion critique of Obama’s wardrobe and choice of neckties as a presidential candidate.

When the speech goes live, it’s going to seem a little chaotic. That’s OK. There are no points at stake here. It’s a practice lab. However, this exercise is good practice for your actual live-blog requirement. Remember (it’s in the syllabus) that you must live-blog one event on your beat this semester — it counts for 20 points of your 100-point blog portfolio. When evaluating your portfolio at the end of the semester, I expect to see at least one live-blogged event on your beat with 15 time-stamped entries and three links.

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