Sky News has launched a new responsive website and liveblogging platform with an aim to enhance the broadcaster's delivery of real-time news.
Although news sites have been introducing responsive web design – adapting to different screen sizes on different devices – as a result of growing mobile usage since 2012, the combined use of a responsive liveblog is in answer to changes in how readers receive their news.
"The idea of a live evolving story and having an online digital way of telling that story is something that has emerged in the last few years and continues to change ," said Hugh Westbrook, head of digital development at Sky News, "and we know that people want to be as up-to-date as possible with a story and like to see events unfold."
Westbrook told Journalism.co.uk that while Sky is known for its live coverage on television, the new features will allow greater audience involvement in the telling of those stories digitally, and in a multiplatform approach.
"It's not just about journalists being able to tell stories," he said, "it's about being able to tap into social media, multimedia, and really tell that story in multiple ways."
Robb Miller, head of global sales at software company Livefyre, which powers the liveblog, said the platform's social media integration ability for readers to comment and share posts was important in responding to how audiences behave.
"Part of the flexibility of the platform and part of the reason Sky went for this was that it's highly adaptable," he said, "so not only responsive and easy to use in mobile environments versus tablets versus web, or even on television screens, but also that you can invite user interaction."
Internally, Sky News has increasingly been looking at being a "multiplatform broadcaster", said Westbrook, and while the liveblog can be seen as the digital equivalent of a live broadcast, Sky would look to integrate the two.
"Take a court case, the Pistorius trial is a very good example," he said. "You can have a reporter outside giving you a few updates, you can get some colour in the TV broadcast.
"What you can't necessarily do is see the lines that the judge is coming out with, or comment from inside the court if you're not watching that livebroadcast. A liveblogging platform allows you to give much more of a line-by-line account of what is going on."
The liveblog could solve this issue and give viewers a "richer experience", he said, and the responsive capabilities of Livefyre's software mean viewers can more easily follow events.
"Now that that's done there's been an opportunity to take a step back and say, ok, what does this platform now allow us to do in terms of connecting with our audience that perhaps we haven't done before?," he said.
"It's certainly an example of where digital is influencing television and something digital is adding to that television experience which is quite an unusual approach. So as we increasingly, as a company, think in a multiplatform way, these kind of things will probably increase."
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