The Manchester Evening News (MEN) has made good on plans to increase the number of local public authority meetings it covers by using liveblogging tools to report on the gatherings.

The decision follows the successful use of CoveritLive's liveblogging software and Twitter since December to send minute-by-minute updates from full council meetings in Manchester, Trafford and Bury and from the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities and Manchester police meetings.

The MEN will now cover full council meetings of all 10 local authorities in the Greater Manchester area and meetings of the Greater Manchester Police Authority. At least two meetings a week are now being covered live on the site.

In addition the title will also run liveblogs on select planning meetings, where a major issues is being decided, such as a recent meeting about a beauty spot development, Paul Gallagher, head of online content at MEN, told Journalism.co.uk.

Readers are able to follow the coverage and send their questions and comments to the reporters via CoveritLive blogs for each meeting on the MEN website, where the reporters' Tweets are streamed into the blog.

"It is going really well and the level of engagement is increasing each time, although it does vary a bit across the authorities," said Gallagher.

"When we started doing it, the coverage was mainly the reporter just sending updates as a lone voice in the town hall chamber. However, last week, when our reporter Deborah Linton covered Manchester City Council, there were seven councillors all tweeting from the meeting, as well as the council’s head of media relations, so we had nine voices being drawn into our CoveritLive event as well as reader comments being added in during the meeting.

"It was a real breakthrough and a hint of how this kind of service is really developing into a new type of council reporting."

Audience figures are building too, with the Manchester council event played just short of 500 times, and feedback from councillors, reporters and readers has been very positive, added Gallagher.

"Councillors are delighted that we are reporting on the meetings live and many have contacted us to say so. There was one council which was a bit wary of allowing live tweeting but once they had seen it in action, were very pleased with the result," he said.

"Some of the reporters are using twitter for the first time when asked to cover the meetings and they have all embraced this new reporting tool. All the journalists enjoy doing the live coverage, I think that it makes it feel more worthwhile being at the meeting. In the past, they might sit there for hours making notes and it would end up being a short page lead in the paper two days later. The liveblogging brings the whole event to life as a news event."

The liveblogging software has also allowed the MEN to create an online archive of the meetings covered by the paper.

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