Analysis, Lessons from Reporters, Tools of the Trade - by on Thursday, February 7, 2008 6:48 - 1 Comment

Chating Live With Your Sources – A Beat Blogging Strategy

On Super Tuesday I was glued to CNN and watching my Twitter stream of friends (even getting some of my responses blogged about ie: they were beat blogging in broad terms).

One Tweet caught my eye. It was from Josh Levy at Tech President saying that he was liveblogging Super Tuesday.

Okay: let’s check it out.

Josh was using a tool called CoverItLive, something I had heard of, but never seen in action. Within minutes I could see the value of CoverItLive for any beat blogger with an open network. This is instant feedback – and if you are covering the Superbowl, Super Tuesday or any concrete event with a fixed time line, why not open the floodgates and turn your site into the center of conversation.

I signed up at CoverItLive and had a test chat up and running in minutes – literally minutes.

What if you have/want a closed network?

A very valid concern – especially for some of our beat bloggers who expressed time and again, the need for anonymity or closed conversations.

I decided to send that question on to CoverItLive and received an answer directly from the top: Keith McSpurren the President of CoverItLive.


Thanks for your question. Think you’re watching Josh right now in techpresident…

There are a number of ways to achieve a private live blog.

The best way/easest way would be to put the Viewer Window behind a password protected page on your blog (financial analysts do this for earnings call coverage for their clients only);

A second way would be to launch it and NOT even
post it but then use the application to send out email invites to who you
wanted…a link would be in there for them to go to it (this leaves you with
kind of a ‘floating’ Viewer Window as it is not attached to your
blog…a bit weird, but no one can get to it without the link in the email.

We’ve designed the product to be open and pretty
passive for readers (no username/passwords required).  We expect that most
people wanting to have private content areas already have unique
username/password things so we just stay out of that and tell people to shove
us in behind.

In a follow up email Keith mentioned that, which I recently pointed out as using Twitter in an interesting fashion used CoverItLive during the Superbowl.

Again: The obvious use for CoverItLive is in open networks during events that would be important to everyone who lives/breathes the beat. But I could also imagine CoverItLive being used to organize debates between specific sources, candid conversations between a variety of sources or even daily chats.

Imagine a blogger who, every day, starts their day off with a chat. From 10-11, come here to talk about X.

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About was a grant-funded journalism project that studied how journalists used social media and other Web tools to improve beat reporting. It ran for about two years, ending in the fall of 2009.

New content is occasionally produced here by the this project's former editor Patrick Thornton. The site is still up and will remain so because many journalists and professors still use and link to the content. offers a fascinating glimpse into the former stages of journalism and social media. Today it's expected that journalists and journalism organization use social media, but just a few years ago that wasn't the case.

About the Author of this post
David Cohn is the founder of Spot.Us and former editor of BeatBlogging.Org.