Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thumb Blogging the Wecht Trial

Liveblogging. Everybody's doing it this week around the burghosphere. As you my have heard, I've been liveblogging Day One of the Wecht trial over on The Pittsburgh Channel --or, in this case, thumb blogging.

I coined that phrase last summer when I tried my hand (actually, my thumbs) at writing an on-the-run blog entry on my BlackBerry. For the Wecht trial, this involves quickly typing courtroom notes on the tiny device with my thumbs alone. In this case I was doing it while still taking conventional pen-and-paper notes.

During opening arguments, I was trying to capture a lot more of the sort of play-by-play detail that you don't normally get to read in a local court case. While I've gotten some good feedback on the results, I worry that someone coming across those courtroom posts will think a Bizarro World counterpart from the old Superman comic books has taken over my writing:

"Not need pronouns. Not need syntax."

So here's the deal. What you see in those blog entries from the courtroom are rough reporter notes: an attempt to capture key words and ideas for storywriting later. Jason Cato of the Trib was filing nicely crafted bloglike briefs for his paper's website, complete with good old subjects, verbs, objects, sentences and paragraphs. My laptop doesn't have a cellular modem, however; it's wifi only. That means I don't have the luxury of a full-size QWERTY keyboard for my live missives. My only vehicle for filing immediate updates from the courtroom is via the BlackBerry.

Later in the day, I managed to plug in my PowerBook and started typing my notes in there. I still can't file live from the laptop, but I might be able to synch from there to the BlackBerry occasionally, then e-mail the results.

Chris Twomey of the Pittsburgh Channel has set up a special web page for our Channel 4 Action News coverage.

I'll be back in the courtroom for Wecht Trial, Day Two.


1 comment:

Bob Mayo said...

Oops. It turns out I'm not the first or only person to use the term thumb blogging.