Are you a streamalist? Here’s how to get started:

Above: I grabbed these frames Tuesday night when I spotted Argentine “periodista mochilero” (backpack journalist) Marcos Alvarez — or @PiodeMarcos — promising a 360-degree Periscope view of Times Square.

This site was designed to recognize and analyze the potential impact and opportunities created for journalism as more smartphone users embrace popular new live streaming mobile video platforms.

But when does streaming become journalism? Does it matter if the person holding the phone is a traditional or credentialed journalist, or is it sufficient if a citizen journalist is simply meeting the standard practices of the profession at the moment?

And what if video created without journalism in mind earns news value simply by virtue of its content? Will there be pressure for faster verification because it’s live?

We’re going to have to discuss intellectual property too. And a future post will explain my techniques for recording video for redistribution.

But for now, let’s just look at the steps you need to follow in order to start producing live streaming video news:

• You will probably want to use a mobile phone with a broadband connection, but working with a tablet with a camera and using wifi might be sufficient at times. Early apps favored iOS over Android but that appears to be evening out quickly. I haven’t yet seen any reports on possible broadband data costs, but an unlimited plan like I have is probably not a bad idea.

• Then, you’re going to need a Twitter account to work with Periscope of Meerkat — the hot new apps. Existing Twitter accounts will do, or you can set up a new one.

• Periscope and Meerkat can use all of the accounts on your Twitter app, but toggling among them can cost you precious seconds when you are reporting live.

• Next, you will need to download the free Persicope or Meerkat apps if you are an iPhone user, or Tarsii if you are on Android. Then, you need to sync the new streaming app with your Twitter accounts. It’s really simple.

• In the latest version of Periscope, first-time users will be met with a quick, explanatory tour. This may be true of other apps as well.

• Before you start streaming on Persicope, you can toggle a button on the screen to determine if you will tweet the link — or not. (Why not?)

• There’s also a button which allows all users to post live text comments — or just people you follow. I can imagine wanting to limit trolls, but until you have an audience of your own, you might learn more about the process by letting everyone in on the chat.

• Note that the chat button seems to cause some confusion. The default (grey’d out) position lets everybody in, and highlighting the button permits only your followers. A lot of users seem to mistakenly presume the opposite.

The most important step for drawing participants to your stream is probably your response to the pale text area near the top left corner of the broadcast screen, which asks: What are you seeing now?

• The title text you enter will determine what your followers will see — which is especially important if they have set up push alerts. But this text will also populate the tweet created on your account by the video app, if you have selected that option.

• While Periscope affords space for more than 100 characters to title your stream, the app will also add “Live on Periscope” to your tweet — and a link to the live video — so, it will append the rest of your text. In other words; keep it short.

• When you are ready, click: Start Broadcast!

• Just remember that you are live — across the globe — and while the Periscope archives your video for just 24 hours, others will find ways to record if they want.

I haven’t figured out the maximum duration, but I streamed a video for nearly 45 minutes recently on Periscope without interruption. It seems as if only the first 100 viewers can get in on the chat, even when you set it up without limits.

There’s a lot more to learn and discuss, including when users seem to log in and out, how they engage with text messages, the meaning and value of those hearts on your stream and much more. But you should have what you need to get started now.

Looking ahead: if we are going to call our work journalism, we should adhere to the principles, and keep law and ethics in mind. Here are some guidelines to think about for now:

• Principles of Journalism – Project for Excellence in Journalism

Code of Ethics – National Press Photographers Association

Best Practices – Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma

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Jim MacMillan

Independent Journalist at jimmacmillan.com
I am a solutions-oriented independent multimedia journalist, based in Philadelphia.
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Jim MacMillan

I am a solutions-oriented independent multimedia journalist, based in Philadelphia.

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