Citizen journalism meets Periscope at Washington Navy Yard shooter scare

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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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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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Nestlé first to brand a Periscope stream

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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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A campaign from Nestlé this weekend is bringing some slick marketing to Pericope, according to a report from adweek.com:

Nestlé Will Be the First Brand to Run a Sponsored Periscope Stream

Each video title will include the #ad hashtag to indicate that it’s sponsored, and will the project be supported with sponsored tweets and hired influencers.

Citing Nestle’s endeavor as an indication of future possibilities, inqisitir.com says Periscope “will be taking (and already has taken) a large chunk out of SnapChat’s business.

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Streaming video headline check

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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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Above: Olympic skater @MichelleWKwan was hosting @HillaryClinton‘s Periscope stream last weekend in New York.

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Keeping up with streaming app updates

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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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Above: The latest update from stre.am now makes it possible to title your broadcast.

In a recent post, I confessed my love for stre.am but complained that it had one serious shortcoming: Since broadcasters could not title their streams inside the app, related tweets and Facebook posts offered only generic messages at launch and were thus insufficient for catching possible viewers who might be searching by topical keywords — as I do with Tweetdeck.

Well, those days are gone, thanks to a new upgrade (iOS, Android) which I tried for the first time while watching some wet weather sweep over Philadelphia last night.

I chatted with another member of the stre.am team inside that broadcast and learned that they also plan to enable commenting in the web view soon, which would be another important advantage over competitors.

I also learned that it was no accident that stre.am viewers remain anonymous until they comment. That had always been the case but I just hadn’t noticed — with so many differences to consider among the latest apps.

But I think I prefer the Periscope model on that point, where viewers are announced with an onscreen text message when they begin viewing each stream. I can also understand the counter-argument.

Meerkat

Meanwhile, I agree with Mashable’s assessment that the latest Meerkat update adds improvements but “still has much to fix.”

A brutal review inside the iTunes store begins: “I loved meerkat…until this last update,” calls the opening view “horrible” and concludes: “This is a zero star update, but they made me choose 1, so I did. But I’m being generous.”

Check my last post for a look at the latest Periscope upgrades.

In an upcoming post, I will also go over the ANGL app, which looks great at a glance but left me puzzled on first use.

What’s your favorite app for streaming video?

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Periscope update adds functionality; illuminates shortcoming

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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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Above: The new global map of live streams inside the Periscope app shows more activity in Italy and Turkey than in the US.

The recent update of the Pericope app includes a map view which “lets users browse streams from specific locations around the world, selecting live broadcasts from different areas by zooming in on countries, cities, and towns,” according to the verge.com, explaining that: “Streamers will see their broadcasts appear automatically on the map view if they enable location data sharing in the app.”

But “beware streaming from home,” warns CNET, reporting that the app pinpoints your exact location.

The update “also makes replays available instantly, instead of requiring you to upload them after broadcasting, and will allow you to share the link to broadcast replays to Twitter, according to thenextweb.com, remembering that previously “it was incredibly difficult to find a stream you’d missed if you didn’t have the initial broadcast tweet.”

Other elements of the update “include an option for sharing a link to someone else’s broadcast, and localization in more languages, now up to a total of 29, reports appleinsider. That list includes English, Polish, Spanish, Swedish, French, Dutch, Italian, and Portuguese, according to pcmag.com.

This update is only available for iOS users, but should be available to Android users later this year, techcrunch reported.

Perhaps more importantly, Slate suggests that “the update offers a critical insight into Periscope’s bigger problem: There just aren’t that many people using it.”

Seen at the top of this post, a random sampling of screen grabs I saved late this morning (EDT) showed very little activity along the heavily populated northeast corridor of the US, but more action in places like Italy and Turkey, which is consistent with regional search interest recently indicated by Google Trends, illustrated below.

turkey

Twitter search results show dozens of links attached to streams which came from Apple’s Worldwide Developers’ Conference in San Francisco Monday morning, while only a handful were ever visible on the map.

Alternatively, it is also possible broadcast without tweeting; so, we can’t really be sure of stream count through any means. But we also have no reason to expect that behavior would very across the map.

Upcoming posts will focus on recent upgrades to the Meerkat and Stre.am apps, and will also catch up with another alternative.

What have you been streaming?

Note: Your editor has been posting less while leading recent streaming video workshops for journalists in Philadelphia; last week with the reporting staff at WHYY and then during the Investigative Reporters and Editors Conference, which brought 1,800 journalists to the city over the weekend. Check in for more activity over the coming days and weeks.

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Searching for video apps: Interest spikes around updates and live events

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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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Periscope has maintained a significant lead over Meerkat in Google search popularity since the app was first launched earlier this spring, according to results from Google Trends.


Although we can’t be certain what users were seeking, previous comparable flatlines indicate that recent searches have coincided with the release of the new mobile video applications.

Search volume spiked when app upgrades were released and then again last week when Periscope was first made available for Android users.

The greatest spike followed the recent Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, when streaming video users redistributed the event to others at no cost.

You can go to the graph and add other search terms for comparison.

As Google explains: The numbers on the graph reflect how many searches have been done for a particular term, relative to the total number of searches done on Google over time.

Google Trends also finds the greatest interest in Periscope coming from Turkey and Italy, while the United Kingdom tops the list for Meerkat searchers. San Francisco is the leading American city on the list.

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Want to stream you life horizontally? There’s an app for that!

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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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Above and below: Roller skaters check out opening night at the RiverRink in Philadelphia. I grabbed these moments from my stre.am broadcast.

I like vertical videos and I am not alone. “Vertical videos are here to stay,” according to engadget.com. And digiday.com says: “It’s time to take vertical video seriously.”

There’s even a new app called Verdid, which journalism.co.uk says is setting out to become the “YouTube of vertical videos.”

And as I said in one of my earlier posts, watching Periscope streams on my big screen at home left me wishing that I had my TV mounted vertically.

3But of course I do not. Cable and satellite signals and just about everything else come in horizontally. And more than a century of Hollywood movies would have to be drastically cropped or downsized for viewing on vertical screens.

And there are lots of reasons to continue producing horizontal videos. Verticals still look ridiculously compromised on YouTube and on broadcast TV.

Citizen journalists using vertical video might find themselves starting with one strike against them if they want to make sales to news organizations, and will certainly be at a disadvantage if another producer has the same content in horizontal format.

Fortunately, we have stre.am, or #streamwithadot, which promises to help you “Share you world.”

streamI glanced at the app while gathering information for my first post on this site last month, but with much of the news coverage focused on competition between Periscope and Meerkat, I kind of forgot about the third option until one of their staffers reached out to me on Twitter last week.

That’s when I finally tried sending a test stream with the app, and guess what? It’s horizontal!

So, when I went down to the Delaware River to check out Philadelphia’s new roller rink last weekend — and found decidedly horizontal visuals — I decided to give stre.am a try in the field.

And I loved it for lots of reasons:

• First of all, the app saved a clean horizontal copy of my stream to my iPhone’s Camera Roll. I’m a journalist and producing horizontals just makes more sense for me.

• And stre.am enables easy Twitter AND Facebook sharing at launch.

• Tapping an aperture icon while streaming captures clean still photos to your camera roll, although there seemed to be a brief delay in the process. (I can do the same on Periscope by clicking my iPhone’s home and power buttons simultaneously, but that will also capture the hearts and comments. And sometimes I inadvertently put the phone to sleep if I get those keystrokes out of sync.)

• Finally, you can also post text comments while streaming, which can be helpful if you want to communicate while covering an event such as the solemn Ride of Silence, which left me whispering while Periscoping last week.

There’s one big problem but there’s a solution in the works and some pretty cool alternatives in place already.

• Unfortunately, you can’t yet title your stre.am stream before broadcasting; so, your tweet and Facebook shares will leave your friends and followers wondering. However, two stre.am staffers have promised me that will change in an upcoming version.

UPDATE: Stre.am CTO Jeremy Martin tells me they: “just submitted a new build with titles to the App Store today!”

Meanwhile, you can share more deliberately once your stream is underway:

• While you’re live, the top left menu displays your stream’s duration, likes and the number of current viewers. But if you tap the tiny icon in the top left corner, it opens a vertical menu with more options.

• There, you can turn on the flashlight or switch to your front camera but you can also craft and send a more precise tweet or Facebook post while maintaining the stream. You can also send a text or an email.

Some other observations:

• Viewer count compared favorably with my engagement on Periscope, but almost nobody commented. This could be due to any number of reasons but I am suspecting it may result from the fact that viewers need to tap a bubble icon before they see the comments.

• You can “Like” a stream by clicking a thumbs-up icon. It’s a lot more subtle than pouring your hearts out on Periscope but time will tell what users prefer.

• Instead of streaming, you can also opt to record a video clip for your “reel,” which will be attached to your profile for 24 hours. I haven’t figured out the point of this process but I will give it a try soon.

Tweeted streams seem rare; so, I have not been able to establish whether live web viewing is possible.

Update: Another stre.am staffer messaged me to confirm that live web viewing is possible.

Of course you can also rotate your device horizontally while streaming on Periscope, but the comments and hearts will display sideways.

Stre.am reminds you that your “Portrait Orientation Lock” must be off when using their app horizontally. Otherwise, it warns that you will be creating a “sideways experience” for your viewers and implores you: “Don’t be that person.”

Finally, since none of the new streaming mobile video apps presently enable embedding, I have been experimenting with capturing streams from my screen and redistributing them via Ustream, which produces an embed code but also sends out video in a horizontal box like we get when using YouTube. Stre.am solves that problem too.

Have you tried stre.am? What do you think?

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