Citizen journalism meets Periscope at Washington Navy Yard shooter scare

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Jim MacMillan

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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:


Updates enhance the Periscope experience

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Jim MacMillan

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I am a solutions-oriented independent multimedia journalist, based in Philadelphia.
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Above: @STLFireDept Periscoped firefighters at work in St. Louis today.

It has been almost a week since Periscope enabled web replay viewing, and that improvement came shortly after their mobile app update, but the real advantages emerge when applying both together.

The absence of web replays had been a common complaint among Periscope viewers, according to reports from PC Mag and The Verge.

But you will really feel the difference while broadcasting, knowing now that there are more ways for viewers to consume and share your reports, as I discovered while experimenting over the weekend.

Now, it makes more sense to ask your viewers to retweet your link because everyone can come back and watch for up to 24 hours.

The web replay view also makes it possible for viewers to watch once before deciding if they want to capture a copy, as I often do with Quicktime or apps such as Snapz.

And now that the Periscope app makes it possible for viewers to grab and share a link to the stream, they can very easily repost to Facebook or their blogs, or share via SMS or email. (So, you might want to suggest those possibilities while broadcasting.)

To get the related URL while viewing a live or recorded video inside the Periscope app, users now need only to swipe right, click “Share” and touch “Copy to Clipboard.” Then, they can paste it anywhere.

If the video is live, users will still find the previous options to share the stream directly with their followers inside the app.

A post at Softpedia’s Webscripts Homepage agrees with The Verge that removing the 24-hour limit and enabling embeds are the next critical steps for Periscope, making it possible for users to share live and recorded videos “just like you can with tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram photos.”

There are some workarounds presently possible with applications capable of capturing live video from your laptop screen and and rebroadcasting with embed codes, but the processes are brutally cumbersome and produce horizontal windows with shadowboxing around vertical videos.

For now at least, Twitter Just Made Periscope Better, according to WebProNews, adding: “Though much of our internet use is increasingly taking place on mobile, there is still a great deal of importance left when it comes to the desktop, so this is a significant move for Twitter’s new service.”


Periscope surfaces at #IRE15

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Above: We put on a “Periscope for Journalism” pop-up panel during #IRE15 last week in Philadelphia.

With the popularity of new live-streaming mobile video applications emerging over just the past few months, I began leading small presentations at journalism conferences and newsrooms here in Philadelphia.

But last week, one of the largest and most esteemed gatherings of our profession came to town for the Investigate Reporters and Editors (IRE) 2015 national conference.

While IRE had no plans to address streaming journalism, they did offer the opportunity during the conference to apply for time to present pop-up panels on emerging topics.

And my effort to lead “Periscope for Journalism” won a place in the program, based on votes from journalists in attendance.

My pitch for the panel began:

The sudden popularity of live-streaming mobile video applications has been creating new possibilities for journalists. But once again, the emerging platforms present a new set of ethical and legal complications.

I promised a quick presentation and demonstration before moving to a “lively conversation about the challenges and responsibilities of real-time mobile broadcasts.”

And I had the great fortune of finding two remarkable colleagues to join me:

Josh Cornfield is the New Jersey News Editor for The Associated Press. He works with a team devoted to finding and telling both breaking news stories and high-level enterprise.

Susan Phillips covers energy and the environment for the multi-media public radio project StateImpact Pennsylvania. She holds duPont and Murrow awards and spent a year at MIT as a Knight Science Journalism Fellow.

Next, I went on a bit of a social media campaign for votes and then attendees, promising more than just fun and games.

During the panel, we discussed several topics which have been emerging here at and I pointed out a pair of how-to posts — on broadcasting and discovering streams.

A couple of notable examples included reporting from the recent Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia by local photojournalist Joe Kaczmarek, and streams from the Baltimore riots by Paul Lewis, the Washington correspondent for The Guardian.

Josh Cornfield said that he followed Kaczmarek’s live report and called it the “first real reporting anywhere that there were fatalities.”

Cornfield said that — as with all social media reporting — he took that information “as a tip, not as something we’re going to put on the wire,” but that it also prompted him to send an immediate “heads-up” to the AP’s Philadelphia newsroom.

Cornfield said that whenever news is happening there’s a “pretty good chance” you will found something you can use on Periscope. For instance, Cornfield said that he found reporter from a newspaper in York, Pa., streaming live from a press conference after a recent double shooting.

Susan Phillips had not yet produced her own broadcasts but said that as the subject of streaming she found the medium “much more visceral” than tweeting and could imagine additional advantages, such as streaming directly to social media audiences while simultaneously conducting a stand-up report for an anchor back in the newsroom.

Live streaming apps also “brought up a lot of legal questions” for Phillips, who discussed the reasonable expectation of privacy as well as copyright concerns, for example when streaming from concerts.

Meanwhile, Associated Press Philadelphia reporter Mike Sisak streamed our panel on Periscope and then stepped up to the microphone to read questions from his live viewers.

Cornfield took another question on the need to make corrections when a subject on Periscope misinforms your audience, explaining that the correct response would be “a matter of scale” but that you should “let the same audience” know what happened.

More audience members added tips for using Periscope to send your newsroom quick notes from the field, brought up more copyright questions and raised the concern that live-streaming apps could have a chilling effect on public officials — who may become reluctant to share background information at news scenes.

I am predicting only that this won’t be the last journalism conference where these questions emerge.


Keeping up with streaming app updates

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Jim MacMillan

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

In a recent post, I confessed my love for 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 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 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.


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?


Periscope update adds functionality; illuminates shortcoming

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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, 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, 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

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.


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 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.


Streaming journalism review

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Jim MacMillan

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Above: Bastiaan Slabbers, Kevin McCorry and Shai Ben-Yaacov of WHYY launch Periscope streams.

Here’s an update from my first six weeks of blogging about live-streaming mobile news video applications for journalists, which I gathered to make a presentation Tuesday at WHYY in Philadelphia. Check the smaller badges below for links to posts with more information:


Simple test shows Twitter activity related to live mobile video apps

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Jim MacMillan

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Above: I set up several search columns for the test video below.

Does anybody else remember when Twitter was so new that it felt as if you could read almost every tweet?

Well, now you can sometimes catch just about every tweet related to Periscope, which appears to be the most active live streaming mobile video platform on Twitter, based on my casual observations and a little crude testing.

But volume isn’t everything, as many Periscope-related tweets are posted in other languages and thus not equally valuable to English speakers. While I have no simple method to quantify them, it appears as if a lot of the messages are appearing in Arabic and Turkish, perhaps followed by Italian, French and Spanish.

Back to my test: At around 9 a.m. EDT Friday, I created Tweetdeck search columns for “periscope live,” “meerkat live” and “ live,” and captured the activity. The time-lapse video below shows 10 minutes of tweets compressed into 30 seconds.

This crude experiment is consistent with my past observations over time as well, but it may be most important to note that even the busiest stream is not so busy.

Of course, users can also broadcast without tweeting — at lease on Periscope — but I haven’t discovered a method to search or coherently monitor those streams.

You can set up the Periscope app to send push alerts to your phone when a stream appears from someone you follow, but that practice has had limited value for me because I have found that even the most active newsies still stream other activity.

I should note that some tweets with the necessary keywords but no accompanying video link can also creep into these searches, but the volume appears to be quantitatively insignificant.

Finally, here is one place to start searching, albeit crude: This search widget, checks for all tweets including “periscope,” “meerkat” and “,” but in safe mode, excluding sensitive content and profanity: