Susan Spencer-Wendel (@SpenWen), courts reporter for The Palm Beach Post for more than a decade, has spent the past couple of years live-tweeting high-profile trials. (In 2009, she played a role in media-law history when, on her behalf, The Post won clearance from a federal judge for reporters to tweet from court in the Southern District of Florida.)
Today, Susan upped her social-media rockstar status even more during her first time using CoveritLive, instead of Twitter, to live-blog a high-profile sentencing hearing.
As defendant Dalia Dippolito, the South Florida woman who tried to have her husband killed, was waiting anxiously for the judge’s hammer to come down, so were thousands of Palm Beach Post readers logged on to Susan’s live chat.
Susan started off warning readers: “I will not be expressing any opinions here. Please ask only fact-based questions.” She then started posting details from the courtroom such as the people, the mood and the setting.
She answered readers’ questions, even crowdsourcing at one point to ask readers what they thought of a question she planned to ask the prosecutor.
Meanwhile, web producers sprinkled polls, links and a few photos throughout the chat window.
During the three and a half hours that Susan live-blogged from court, more than 7,400 Palm Beach Post readers tuned in. They shared more than 500 comments and questions, which Susan moderated to avoid having inappropriate or irrelevant remarks show up on our site.
Beyond the numbers, the best part of Susan’s live chat is that, for several hours, it turned PalmBeachPost.com’s top story of the day into an interactive feature that drew readers in and allowed them to participate.
Readers were downright clamoring to take part in the chat, posting questions and comments at the rate of several each minute:
Is the sentencing underway??????
have been waiting to see how this turns out!
the suspense is killing me.
Readers were also full of kudos for Susan and The Post for providing the minute-by-minute updates.
Thank you for your coverage and keeping us abreast.
I want to mention what a good job you did reporting the trial.
You all do a great job at the POST keep it up!!!
Love following this blog as well as the Casey Anthony Blog at the same time. Oh technology
Thank you SpenWen! you totally rock keeping us up to date.
this live update is absolutely fantastic!! thanks Susan!
A certain newsroom editor was even overheard saying: “It looks so great online, it’s so immediate! Such a better system than Twitter.”
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