The past two weeks have seen staff and students from Coventry University discovering the sights and sounds of the People’s Republic of China. Among the group here on an exchange programme organised by the university and its Chinese partner, Zhejiang University of Media and Communications (ZUMC), are 11 journalism students who have been reporting online at cutoday.wordpress.com – a blog started in March 2008 that has so far generated 60,000-plus hits.
Last week I attended the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai International Circuit in order to produce a live report for the blog. I was there as a guest of the BMW Sauber Team and despite a disappointing turn of events for the Swiss competitors the day was a great opportunity for me.
I was unsure how best to approach the live feed at first. I am familiar with the workings of hard news reporting and feature writing, but I’ve never had to produce a blow-by-blow account of a live event. I decided to adopt a relaxed, conversational approach, but also make every effort to post relevant information for the readers’ benefit.
Vikki Howe, a final year journalism student at Coventry University, continually monitored the TV screens and live timing feeds in the BMW Sauber hospitality suite. This allowed me to focus entirely on my short, concise post entries. BBC Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website turned out to be very useful sources for fact checking.
It was an interesting experience, and the reaction from readers was favourable, with a number of people sending me emails of congratulations and, more importantly, recommending the blog to others.
Live reporting, I found out, is fast. At times I felt like the speed of my reporting needed to match the speeds being set on the track. Well, perhaps not quite that fast, but you get the idea.