The way that we engage with news media has evolved radically since the beginning of the century. Fast distribution of information through realtime news is probably the single greatest advantage of modern platforms. The most effective traditional broadcasters are now taking advantage of realtime tech to appeal to today’s news consumers in a more dynamic format.
Steadily declining since the start of the noughties, recent years have seen newspaper circulation hit the lowest level since the 1940s as the vast majority of readers turned exclusively to online sources. To an extent, the rise of social media has led to media agencies losing their role as the gatekeepers of information circulation, but journalists remain the leading authority for reliable and accurate reporting. Content may be king, but truth is still treasure.
Despite some concern about our changing relationship with news consumption, the ability to provide highly accurate realtime news updates on a global scale has undoubtedly improved the experience for users. API tools which assist with live event coverage are now allowing more conventional organizations to easily compete with social media’s powerful mastery of engagement.
A number of dynamic features can now be integrated into web and mobile apps to offer the latest and most reliable information at all times.
1. Realtime results
From sports to politics, modern news coverage is all about bringing information to invested readers at speed. No football fan wants to see that a goal has happened ten seconds after everyone else has started tweeting about it because they were refreshing an outdated webpage. By using WebSocket based solutions, media organizations can deliver live results for high traffic events such as milestone sports games and elections as they happen in realtime and update interfaces automatically.
In November 2020, The Washington Post used a dynamic WebSocket integration to cover the 2020 US presidential election, giving readers the ability to see updated voting results pretty much instantly.
2. Live blogging
Live blogs provide rolling textual coverage of ongoing events. This method is appealing to users who have become accustomed to rolling interfaces in their most-used apps. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have all used the rolling format for content distribution and it has become the most highly adopted method for social media platforms.
Usually managed by on-location correspondents with time stamped micro-updates to a news story, live blogs are an effective way to expand upon breaking news as information is uncovered and offer commentary by trusted sources. These updates can also be made richer using video, audio, images and text, to better explain the situation.
Live blogs have been compared to live television broadcasts and radio in terms of their immediacy. However they are most commonly used for one-off events and breaking news, as they offer an effective pre-meditated format for delivering unplanned or irregularly scheduled coverage.
Visualizing live data in an interesting way is vital if news organizations want to keep readers on their page. Realtime dashboards make information more accessible and easy to digest for users who are responding to incoming information. Dashboards can also provide simple monitoring by displaying a combination of historic data alongside realtime news data, and collating multiple data sources on a single page.
Less traditional dashboard compositions are appealing tools for modern readers. The Washington Post’s dynamic modular map dashboard for their 2020 election coverage displayed very complex data in a series of comprehensive dashboards, making it incredibly accessible for their broad audience.
Realtime dashboards are useful tools for journalists working behind the scenes as well. After Google announced their $300 million News Initiative in 2018, they invested significant work in a number of products to support news providers with effective delivery methods. One of these products was Realtime Content Insights. RCI takes realtime data collected through Google Analytics and translates it into useful information on content performance for news organizations. It focuses on helping them keep up to date with what is happening on their site at the current moment in time so they can respond to user activity, for example identifying trending news stories to attract more readers.
Including interactive tools such as polls for audiences to engage with on-page assists news teams in gauging understanding and public opinion of current events. Polls which update in realtime to display results from active readers can be an impressive catalyst for conversation and offer useful insights for media organizations.
Sites like BuzzFeed and The Guardian are known for their use of interactive tools like polls and quizzes to encourage reader engagement and help to assess news performance, not only on their social media feeds but on-page for website readers.
By staying on top of trends and developments around live delivery, traditional media has been able to use realtime tools to continue dominating the landscape of our news despite the gradual decline of printed news media and significant competition from less authoritative sources.
Find out more about how you can integrate dynamic realtime news features into your web and mobile apps here.