Live-blogging the BNP on Question Time across the web
I'm sure you've read more than enough about the pros and cons of the BNP appearing on the BBC's Question Time over the last week. I was interested in capturing some of the contemporaneous coverage on the web across a range of media and political outlets.
Liveblogging on The Guardian and The Telegraph
The Guardian had two live blogs for the event. One 'minute-by-minute' ran during the day, and then Andrew Sparrow took over when transmission started. We also used our new-ish Twitter widget, which aggregates the tweets from specific journalists around an event.
The Telegraph were also live blogging, with Will Heaven manning the desk. Like The Guardian, readers chipped into a pretty lively comment thread during the show, and Will carried on the debate in comment threads on other Telegraph pieces the next day.
CoverItLive on...well...just about everywhere else
The newspaper industry still likes to see itself as a closed enclave on the web - see the primacy of ABCe figures for measuring success for example, a comparison that doesn't include the BBC, Sky, Yahoo, MSN or Google. It was interesting to note that whilst The Telegraph, Guardian and Times Online were competing against each other during Question Time's transmission, they were also competing against live coverage on smaller publications like The Jewish Chronicle, political blogs like Conservative Home and Mark Reckons, and special interest group blogs like Biased BBC. The Guardian and The Telegraph were using in-house publication tools, but the rest of those I looked at were competing on a level technical playing field - CoverItLive seems to be the live blogging weapon of choice elsewhere on the web whilst the show was being broadcast.
Switching between the various outlets allowed for a good game of 'are you watching the same show that they are watching?'. For every comment on one site that 'The whooping audience is just making the BNP seem more like underdogs. Nice one BBC' [Mitch Henderson, Times Online] you could find someone arguing that 'He sounds seriously extreme on the Holocaust and Islam. Very off-putting for the vast majority of people' [Martin Bright, Jewish Chronicle]. For every 'I can not, for the life of me, understand how Griffin thought this could go well for him.' [Steve, Biased BBC blog] there was a 'he can't lose, any poor performance by him will be spun into a cock and bull story of BBC bias' [Ruth, Mark Reckons blog].
Incidentally, I'm all for minimal moderation in private community spaces, but I do think the Biased BBC blog allows any sensible points made in the course of their live debate to be totally undermined by publicly publishing comments about Baroness Warsi like "The most powerful Muslim woman in Britain? Does she sell suicide belts then?" and some of the unsavoury comments in the screengrab below.
A 'forced' media event
The intersection between mainstream media and new media has been an interesting time in the last couple of weeks over the Trafigura and Jan Moir incidents. This had more of a 'forced' old style top down media feel to it. Andrew Grice in The Independent accused the BBC of over-hyping itself for the event. With footage carefully released to news bulletins before the show was broadcast in full, it felt very stage-managed, and I have to say that "Watch scheduled television programme at scheduled time" is one of the lamest breaking news straplines I've ever seen. And I watch Sky Sports News a lot...
Instant polls and votes
Views of how Griffin performed on the programme differed across the various sites I was watching. Nearly everybody ran a poll asking whether Nick Griffin should have been allowed on to the programme at all. Regardless of the source of the data, it seems that most people agreed it had been right to invite the BNP on Question Time.