When it comes to the news, it’s hard to deny the impact and authority that come with reading a story off a printed page. Not only are you physically connected to the words you’re reading, but there’s a definite implication of the great deal of thought and care that went into getting them there.

Newspapers have history. Newspapers have cache. One of the things newspapers lack, however, is a sense of immediacy.

In the past, newspapers have tried to combat this through rush editions and special sections, but broadcast news outlets previously held an advantage in terms of covering live events and breaking news.

The internet has been a game changer for all news outlets, and has provided digital tools that can help traditionally print-focused newsrooms become more immediate in their reporting.

A digital tool used by many GateHouse Media newsrooms to cover live events or breaking news events is ScribbleLive, which is a content marketing platform that lends itself to live blogging and can provide automated updates from social media posts.

We asked five GateHouse Media newsrooms to explain how they use ScribbleLive.

The (Stockton) Record’s ScribbleLive introduction


GateHouse Newsroom: How does your newsroom use ScribbleLive as a resource for live news coverage?

Ken Johnson, The Patriot Ledger: We use it for breaking stories. Scribble allows us to chase other layers knowing that the story is being updated regularly. We also have standing pro and school sports feeds that pick up tweets from our staffers.

Mike Klocke, The (Stockton) Record: The two words I’d use are “layering” and “immediacy.” ScribbleLive allows us to quickly post quotes, photos, videos, social media reaction and more. The story develops right in front of online readers. SL also is a great “re-cap” tool for later or second-day coverage.

Pat Rice, Daytona Beach News-Journal: We use it during high-interest live news events and with stories for which we anticipate a large reaction on social media. We’ve also started experimenting with it as a standalone article platform for breaking news before we have a story of our own reported.

For what sorts of event coverage do you find ScribbleLive to be especially useful?

Adam Gerik, (Peoria) Journal Star: Obviously, any event with limited public access is ripe for success. Readers want inside access to places and people they couldn’t be at or talk with without our help. Although we haven’t had a lot of major breaking news situations since gaining ScribbleLive access, I’m interested in seeing how it performs in the future.

KJ: Anything on weekends and holidays when the newsroom is lightly staffed and there’s no one handling the posting in the office. Frees up reporters and photographers to get the material we need.

Jason Piscia, The State Journal-Register: A higher-profile, longer-term news event that we know about ahead of time. It really helps to have the ability to promote the SL coverage a day or two ahead of time.

In your opinion, what makes ScribbleLive unique from other content curation and live blogging platforms?

MK: Some curation tools only allow one updater at a time. ScribbleLive gives us more flexibility. We’ve been told by readers that the SL format is very easy to follow and they like the “sequential” manner of coverage.

KJ: [It’s a] little easier to use. The ability to ingest from Twitter is particularly useful, and it allows us to combine Twitter accounts and hashtags in a way Twitter widgets don’t.

AG: We rely on ScribbleLive to give us a level of audience participation that’s unavailable with other platforms. It has better moderation tools than most other options and works well on mobile (both as a producer and a reader).

What do you consider to be your most high performing story where ScribbleLive was used and why do you think it performed so well?

JP: President Obama visited Springfield in February to speak in front of the Illinois General Assembly. He was on the ground here for about seven hours. We kept an SL going the whole time, pulling in tweets from staff and readers. Viewers checked in on us all day long.

MK: There has been a big controversy here about the city adding chloramine treatment to drinking water. A forum on the issue drew 1,000 people — and activist Erin Brockovich. We culled ongoing content from our journalists, other media outlets, attendees and had quite a bit of interaction with others following from home. It was like a live “Internet broadcast.” We were able to add to it the next day, too. 

AG: Well, it never hurts to have a marquee name attached! Bill Clinton visited Peoria while campaigning for Hillary in March and we created a very simple liveblog

It garnered 3,700 unique visitors and 22,000 engagement minutes. The only ScribbleLive event that topped it was a Q&A with Peoria’s school superintendent, which had 41,000 engagement minutes. 

What advice do you have for newsrooms that are looking to start using ScribbleLive for news coverage?

JP: Don’t wait for a instant breaking news event like a big fire or tornado to try it for the first time. Pick something on your calendar a week or two out (a speech, a big game, etc.) and set up the SL now and arrange who will be filling it. Be sure to promote it ahead of time.

MK: Try it on different things. Experiment. Don’t be discouraged if there are some failures. We’ve found it works great in about 75 percent of the things we try. Use it for “serious” and “fun” news events.

AG: I don’t think there’s a magic sauce – but it might be an easy sell to start with some of the social auto-ingest features of ScribbleLive until your newsroom is more comfortable with the platform. From there, the sky’s the limit.

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