During his latest effort, blogging Ed Miliband's speech at the Labour Party conference, the Guardian journalist offers some "3.40pm instant analysis". Sparrow says he found the speech "less inspiring than I expected".
But he then highlights some of the problems of making an assessment about quite how inspiring the speech was given his preoccupation with frantically tapping out a live blog:
"...although I admit, not having watched it properly (I've just had my eyes on my keyboard, for obvious reasons) I'm not necessarily. (sic)"Which rather sums up one of the key challenges facing a live blogging journalist. (Perhaps we could finish the sentence for him "...in the best position to make a judgement" or "able to take in everything while trying to write everything". [In fact, the update was subsequently corrected and now reads: "...the best judge"])
Personally, whenever I've done some live blogging I've always felt it would be better if there were at least two people contributing to it to compensate for my own live blogging inadequacies. One blogger could get down the outline facts and key points, the other could provide instant analysis and comment. Perhaps even a third could pull in information from other sources.
But Sparrow told me that he writes most of the material for his live blogs himself. He says that sometimes others do contribute, particularly if a live blog lasts a long time and that a Guardian editor will actually post his copy to the blog. (Presumably the editor does some quick checks before posting.) But in terms of writing the thing, an Andrew Sparrow live blog is essentially (a rather impressive) one-man show.
The advantage of this approach is that it gives the blog a clear voice, and allows one journalist to retain control over the direction of the blog. But I would still question whether there are not occasions when it might help to have more hands on deck throughout a live blog.
Of course, there is also a question of resources here and I wonder how often The Guardian can afford to devote more than one staff member to writing lengthy live blogs especially as they seem to be running them on a regular basis and for all sorts of events.