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Inside NBC Consultant Jeff Gralnick’s “JBlogging” Experiment

gralnickaugust1.jpgAs the countdown clock ticked away toward the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery last week, I found myself obsessively refreshing my browser, checking for updates to “Gralnick’s Shuttle Diary” on MSNBC.com. Written by NBC News Special Consultant for Internet and New Technology Jeff Gralnick, the blog provided a fascinating minute-by-minute glimpse at the return to flight.

The object of the blog was to “augment traditional broadcast coverage of a breaking story,” Gralnick told TVNewser, “to provide a second tier of more personalized observation and reporting.”

Gralnick used the term “jblogging” to describe the concept: A blog as a “parallel reporting tool on a major story.” It provides space for a second tier of reporting, beyond 90-second packages and live shots, “to broaden the telling of a story.”

The Shuttle Diary was an experiment in jblogging. And Gralnick believed it was a successful one: The blog received tens of thousands of hits during the first launch attempt. (Specific numbers aren’t available yet.)

Blogs like the Shuttle Diary would be valuable for reporters who are immersed in stories — reporters who “need a repository for the kinds of materials that do not fit naturally or easily” into daily reports, Gralnick said.

“It becomes a multi-dimensional or multi-platform unified report,” he added. “Traditional TV can do video/audio only. Traditional print can do text only. This merges the forms.” For instance, a link to one of Gralnick’s TV reports appeared next to the blog entries.

Imagine how news personnel could tell a story using Gralnick’s framework. Imagine frequently-updated observational blogging by correspondents (and presumably producers and other behind-the-scenes personnel) during a hurricane, or in the aftermath of an earthquake. I imagine it would be more informative than most cable news reports…

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