Citizen journalism meets Periscope at Washington Navy Yard shooter scare

Above: Christian Paige reports from the scene. View a slide show and video excerpts below.

As events were unfolding in response to an active shooter report at the Washington Navy Yard Thursday morning, local singer and citizen journalist Christian Paige fired up the Periscope app on his iPhone and reported live to viewers from across the world.

Traditional journalists might criticize this sort of work for potential inaccuracies or lack of attribution and verification, but some of them weren’t doing so well anyway.

The point of this post however is to take a look at the incredible audience response to Paige’s report and everything he did right.

First of all, the title was perfect for catching those searching social media for more information: Live at the Navy Yard Shooting in DC.

Paige opens with a summary of what happened, but also gets us on his side as he shares his concern with parking tickets and getting caught in the rain.

Talking into the front facing camera at first, Paige tells us that he sees: “police cars and news trucks everywhere,” but also asks for followers and hearts, reminding viewers of the opportunity to participate. His casual, sometimes #nsfw language only adds authenticity.

Viewer comments gush with thanks and advice to “take cover” and “stay safe” as he approaches the scene, while others offer reporting advice, including: “Look for people to ask questions.”

Soon, Paige brings viewers up to a major press gaggle on the police perimeter, shows us the same long look at the action that the networks are broadcasting and shoots a little selfie video, putting himself on the scene. The continuous waterfall of hearts accelerates.

Paige notes all the “major dawgs, big heads and real reporters” in the area but then boasts: “I’m your ghetto reporter.. on Periscope News” and the audience loves it.

Some commenters joke about cable and network news reporters and one troll emerged, but other viewers sent Paige advice on how to block that user.

Viewers bash Don Lemon and Nancy Grace of oft-targeted CNN. One jokes that Paige should “Ask Brian Williams if he shot the shooter yet.”

Paige continues to update readers on what he’s hearing on the scene but also repeats comments from viewers who are simultaneously watching other news sources. Viewers are coming in from around the world.

Comments include “This is the future of news,” “better than CNN” and “You’re the new era or reporting,” but also “Love your hair!,” for which Paige sends his thanks.

(Story continues after slide show. The complete video is available at the bottom of this post.)

Read the comments:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Dozens and dozens more express love for Paige’s reporting, share continuing concern with his safety and report back on how his stream is “blowing up” with more viewers.

Paige briefly interviews a couple of witnesses he found — including one man who reported hearing the gunfire — but he also drops in when mainstream news teams cluster around other evacuees.

At times you can hear Paige gracefully deflecting interrupters, explaining: “I’m just Periscoping live.”

Kudos continue with “Great reporting!” and “Keep up the good work.” Other commenters add “awesome” and “amazing.”

New viewers drop in and Paige continuously updates them, recapping the news after reporters scrum around another witness. A viewers notes that Paige is “right up there like he belongs.”

Users exclaim: “This is why I love Periscope,” and “awesome good time for Scope,” for “bringing the action.”

Others remind Paige to “ask some questions,” “interview some folks,” and to “keep explaining” what he shows us.

Paige notes that “I am being treated like a regular reporter.” And viewers are asking each other to share more hearts.

Paige reads more comments aloud and responds, and adds an update on closed Metro stops in the area. Before moving toward another possible interview, he asks viewers: “Would you guys like that?”

By now, viewers are gushing “You’re my hero,” “You are doing a great job,” and “Pulitzer award for you.”

We hear sirens and Paige reports “trying my best,” but notes that his battery is running low, and the audience practically begs him to recharge and hurry back.

Viewers offer advice on finding power and one reminds Paige that he had left only 12 minutes on the parking meter. Another offers to pay the fine if he gets a ticket.

We see choppers, news crews and live trucks. Then another law enforcement team pulls up we see them donning body armor. “You’re the man,” another viewer adds.

“Look at the young Lester Holt,” one commenter finally proclaims, and Paige pauses before responding that Holt is “my idol,” appearing stunned as he expresses his appreciation.

Another calls Paige “DC’s number one reporter.”

Long after the action settles down, staffers from large news organizations pop up on Periscope to cover a press conference at the scene.

If they are reading comments, they are not responding. A few hearts flicker on the screen.

Watch excerpts from Paige’s report:

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Jim MacMillan

Independent Journalist at
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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