For good and for bad, immediacy is an essential component of successful online publishing. To engage attention, publishers have to capture the wave of a trending topic before it peaks. Traditional blogs aren’t well suited to covering events as they happen. Blogging is an after-the-fact medium. Blogs are an exceptional platform for analysis, news reporting, and other writing, but they are not ideal for immediacy and the real-time reporting that drives traffic to social media networks like Twitter.
Why not just use Twitter or Google+ instead of trying to fit a round peg into a square hole? For the same reason publishers like The Verge prefer to live-blog events rather than tweet about them. You own your blogging platform. You control how it looks, the content that is published on it, and how traffic is monetized. If you use someone else’s platform, you’re driving traffic to their advertising and they have control over the content.
That’s not to say social media and other publishing platforms aren’t incredibly valuable for real-time news reporting. Twitter is an invaluable tool for journalists and writers. Reddit’s new live-blogging feature is likely to produce mixed results, but it may become a powerful way of applying crowdsourcing to news gathering and reporting.
None of which is very useful for blog publishers who want to bring traffic to their site and keep it there.
There aren’t as many options for live-blogging on WordPress as one would think. WordPress live-blogging seemed to hit a peak of popularity a couple of years ago, with several strong plugins being developed that turned WordPress into a great live-blogging platform.
Even Automattic got in on the action with Liveblog, but the plugin hasn’t been updated since the beginning of 2013 and is only compatible up to version 3.5.2 of WordPress. The Live Blogging plugin is a similar story, but that hasn’t been updated for even longer.
The strongest option at the time of writing is 24liveblog. 24liveblog is not a WordPress native service and requires an account on the 24liveblog site. The plugin takes care of embedding the necessary code on a WordPress site, but the writing itself takes place on 24liveblog’s cloud service.
For its price (free), 24liveblog is a remarkably powerful live-blogging tool. The dashboard is well-designed and it is remarkably straightforward to create live-blog streams that include text, tweets, embedded videos, and screen captures.
If you run a news site and want to capture the immediacy of social media on your own platform, you really can’t do much better than 24liveblog.