Is Live Event Journalism, Becoming a Thing?

Rose Eveleth of Nieman Reports explores a rise in ‘Live Journalism’ through the story of Samantha Gross who part timed as a tour guide whilst interning at the Associated Press bureau in Rome. In her continuing career as a journalist, she found she was never able to match the rapport with her audience that she had achieved whilst being a guide.

“Probably my favorite part of the [AP] job was getting to enter into the lives of so many people whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise and hear them tell their stories,” says Gross. That piece of her job, though, was the part that her readers never really got to experience. “I never felt that I was able to fully convey that to the people who would then read the stories. They were always missing out on some piece of that experience. Why couldn’t we share the best of our jobs with them?”

Gross has now started StoryTour a business which describes itself as ‘an in-person magazine that brings its audience offline to experience stories firsthand through on-the-scene storytelling around New York City’. Participants can choose fiction or nonfiction, small group walking tours of New York where they encounter storytellers who will speak to them about their lives, their experiences, their work and the places that they live.

At the beginning of June, Radar talked about ‘Open Mic Journalism’ with the Arizona Storytellers. Eveleth, points to further examples of live event storytelling (Apocalyptical by Radiolab, The Heart from Radiotopia and This American Life Live amongst others) as examples of ‘live journalism’ that are breaking even or making money. However she says it is the community bolstering aspect of these events that is the real draw for the organisers;

‘Even if the events themselves don’t make money, they can still be a net gain for the outlet. According to “Radiolab” ’s Horne, live shows are a crucial way to grow audience and foster community, which can then be monetized, if necessary. “A lot of people are brought to a ‘Radiolab’ show by a ‘Radiolab’ fan,” Horne says. “It seems to be a way that fans are able to introduce ‘Radiolab’ to people who aren’t listening to podcasts.” The community aspect is also one of the reasons live events are so popular. “There’s been this incredible rise in all of our lives of virtual experience and virtual community,” Horne says. “One of the things that interests us in doing these live events is that it satisfies a need for the ‘Radiolab’ creative staff and the audience to have a real physical experience together. It’s almost palpable this hunger for these real experiences.’