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“Real-Time”

Dennis Nobile

July 21, 2015
Dennis Nobile

In a recent study by Pew Research Center, clear majorities of Twitter and Facebook users cite these platforms as their primary source for news.

This decentralization of journalism is characterized by ever diversifying streams of information and cutting edge technologies that enable citizen journalists to report the news. And like a double edged sword, it cuts both ways.

Take the video streaming app, Periscope, which allows users around the world to live stream videos at any time. With its streaming capabilities, the ability to save videos, to interact with messaging and post to Twitter, Periscope could be a sea change for grass roots news reporting.

Periscope’s co-founder, Kayvon Beykpour, goes further, “We think Periscope, if successful, will be a real-time pulse of what’s happening in the world,”

Fittingly, on the day it launched, Periscope faced its first journalistic trial by fire. That afternoon, a large explosion shook a building in lower Manhattan. Nineteen people were injured, and at least one was missing.

Within minutes, multiple users began streaming video from the streets and assorted vantage points. People who’d signed on to Periscope were given an intimate look at the chaotic scene on the ground. It was gripping footage, but the impromptu narration by the streamers was often unreliable, incomplete or just lame. If you wanted context – where, why, how – you had to wait for CNN.

But if it wasn’t “real’ journalism, it was the raw material that journalism is made of. One can imagine its value in war zones, natural disasters, civil unrest, as well as happier events. (CNN made extensive use of Periscope in its coverage of the birth of Princess Charlotte.)

As the technology of live streaming matures, it’s clear that personal video feeds will become a powerful tool for citizen and professional journalists alike and provide an immediate, real time presence at critical events.