BBC, SKY, Guardian lean into live blogging, TikTok, AI to engage readers

By Eirik Næsje


Oslo, Norway


Recent global news events, like the Ukraine crisis, have pushed live coverage into the spotlight. Insights from notable media outlets such as the BBC, SKY, and The Guardian are shaping better live coverage strategies for news agencies worldwide.

During a recent panel discussion with Norkon, the BBC underscored the pivotal role of live blogging in attracting younger audiences and maintaining diverse engagement. Furthermore, both The Guardian and SKY lent their weight to this assertion by recognising the considerable audience appetite for live blogs, especially concerning emerging news stories.

As per SKY’s representatives, “When it’s at its best, (live blogging) enhances the whole newsroom.”

The Guardian pins its most recent live blogging updates to the top of the Web page.
The Guardian pins its most recent live blogging updates to the top of the Web page.

Addressing the attention span challenge

In the face of the contemporary dilemma posed by increasingly shortened attention spans, the practice of live event coverage emerges as a compelling solution.

It offers a means to deliver concise, impactful content while effectively engaging audiences. The versatility of integrating live blogging with multi-media elements such as video clips and interactive polls serves to further elevate its appeal and efficacy.

The Guardian illustrates the continuous relevance of live blogs, having harnessed this format for more than 25 years. In its early inception, the company’s live blogs adhered to a straightforward article format, with each update being a new line appended at the top. Over time, it switched to a more efficient content management system, a change that significantly improved how live blogs operate as well as the reading experience.

By adding pinned posts and a key events carousel, and improving the layout, readers’ efforts are minimised, ensuring that “a live blog is always going to be able to show you something you didn’t see when you were there during your previous visit,” according to Guardian representatives.

To meet the challenges of attention spans, SKY has a whole team — from graphics to data journalism — to ensure the live blogging experience is as engaging as possible. This approach includes both detailed and enriched content for the audience through live blogs, enabling readers to navigate through different types of content using filters and giving them the option to choose the chronological order of updates.

The audience relishes the convenience of seamless access to live updates and values a flexible format catering to individual preferences.

Attracting younger audiences with TikTok news

An increasing number of newspapers are incorporating TikTok into their strategic efforts to connect with younger audiences.

This trend underscores TikTok’s rising prominence as a potent platform for disseminating news and an ideal source to integrate within live blogs. The inclusion of social media content within live blogs not only injects vibrancy into their presentation but also serves as a compelling strategy for newspapers to engage with and captivate a younger demographic.

Despite what many believe, younger audiences, in particular, are looking toward TikTok for news updates.
Despite what many believe, younger audiences, in particular, are looking toward TikTok for news updates.

Surprisingly, The Guardian reports that — contrary to the conventional notion that the platform thrives solely on light-hearted, entertaining content — some of the newspaper’s most viewed TikTok videos are deep-dive news stories.

This underscores a noteworthy shift in the way people are now consuming news. What was once primarily an entertainment haven, TikTok has evolved into a formidable hub, enabling news publishers to tap into this direct traffic source for more detailed news stories.

Similarly, SKY’s experience confirms this observation with its serious news stories on TikTok, amassing millions of views. However, the challenge, as SKY points out, lies in monetising this content and effectively guiding viewers back to their main Web sites and apps.

Norkon emphasises the generational gap in the perception of news. While platforms like TikTok are predominantly used for entertainment news, this by no means restricts their potential for traditional news reporting.

Media outlets can capitalise on this opportunity to channel traffic toward more comprehensive news coverage. By providing a link to a live blog, TikTok viewers are considerably more inclined to navigate to the primary Web sites and applications to delve deeper into the event’s details.

AI in the newsroom

Addressing the prominence of generative AI in the newsrooms, BBC points out its use for expediting processes and suggests its potential application in the realm of summarisation. While AI’s application in the newsroom enhances efficiency, it is imperative to acknowledge the accompanying concerns surrounding accuracy and reliability.

SKY, on the other hand, offers a glimpse into its experimentation with AI aimed at improving live blogs and managing user inquiries. This signals a progressive step toward integrating AI in daily operations. Despite the advancements, the inherent challenges with AI’s summarisation and content generation still pose obstacles, necessitating a cautious approach.

A shared concern, as articulated by The Guardian, centres on the critical issue of news verification. The abundance of misinformation and resurgence of old news portrayed as new poses a severe threat to the credibility of news sources. The emphasis is on ensuring the accuracy of news, with The Guardian opting for a delayed update in live blogs to ensure the verification of the news being published.

“We would all be foolish to ignore or try to pretend it isn’t coming or to fend it off, but at the moment, it is still something we have to approach with extreme caution,” Guardian representatives said.

Harnessing innovation for enhanced live news coverage

As news agencies navigate these diverse elements — from live blogging and social media integration to the utilisation of generative AI — they are meticulously forging a path toward a more agile and inventive approach to live news coverage.

This transformative journey underscores the industry’s steadfast dedication to delivering news that is not only credible but also engaging and readily accessible to a global audience. This commitment manifests through a proactive adaptation to the ever-evolving landscape of technological advancements and the dynamic shifts in consumer preferences that characterise the modern era.

About Eirik Næsje

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