Choose your view: Periscope users covered all the angles at the Whisky Row fire in Louisville

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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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From left above, these images were captured by: Dan Colucci, Kayla Moody and Toni Konz, just a few of the Periscope users covering the #WhiskeyRowFire.

When fire broke out on Louisville’s historic Whiskey Row Monday afternoon, Periscope users were not far behind.

The three-alarm fire burned three buildings over nearly three hours before it was declared under control, but no injuries were reported, according to multiple new sources.

The map inside the app often indicated just one live stream at times, while multiple streams were playing.
The map inside the app often indicated just one live stream at times, while multiple streams were playing.

At least 11 Periscope users streamed at least 26 live video reports, although there are no means to track streams which are not also tweeted when users also have location services turned off.

An explosion and fire in New York City’s East Village produced a similar outbreak of coverage on the day the Periscope app was first released in March, but such close clusters have been rare when news breaks so far from our media epicenters.

Related streams have more often emerged when news breaks out across the country, such as we saw during the #FreddyGray protests or as can happen when series of tornados breaks out.

Matt Coddigton streamed this high view of the fire horizontally.
Matt Coddigton streamed this high view of the Louisville fire horizontally.

Periscope videos are deleted automatically after 24 hours online; so, the streams linked to these tweets will evaporate Tuesday evening. The latest links are the top of the list:

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Periscope surfaces at #IRE15

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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: 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 streamalism.org 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.

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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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Streaming journalism review

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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: 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:

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Simple test shows Twitter activity related to live mobile video apps

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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: 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 “stre.am 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 “stream.am,” but in safe mode, excluding sensitive content and profanity:


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Journalists consider Periscope at Barcamp News Innovation

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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: Screen grabs from my demonstration.

Journalists gathered at Temple University all day Saturday for Barcamp News Innovation, our region’s national one-day un-conference on the future of news.

As one of the organizers, I waited until all of the early attendees planned their sessions and then scheduled mine on “Periscope for Journalism” during the last remaining hour — which doesn’t always pull the biggest crowd at a voluntary conference on a Saturday afternoon in the spring.

Yet, I found myself leading a session with about a dozen in attendance, including journalists from The Associated Press, WHYY, Generoctiy.org and The Scranton Times-Tribune, as well as journalism professors, students and more.

A quick survey revealed that some participants had already been producing Periscope videos, others had been just watching, and a few more had just seen articles which left them thinking they needed to know more.

I scrolled though streamalism.org to share my experiences and talked about discovery, curation, sharing, saving, ethics, rights and the shortcomings of the nascent live mobile video movement. And I talked about developing a new workflow for live redistribution but I have some work to do before sharing much more.

I learned from others in the room about the challenges of multitasking and adding yet one more social media responsibility while on the job. And we talked about leaderboards inside the new apps, which obviously drive eyeballs, although I hadn’t been giving them much consideration.

Finally, I led a live Periscope demonstration, using my phone, laptop, Quicktime and a projector — to share the process on a big screen.

Shortly after I left, one of the attendees looped me in on a Twitter conversation about Facebook integration for Meerkat, another possible game-changer.

Below, @PhillyCodeHound Seth Goldstein caught preaching about Periscope:

@jimmacmillan at #bcni15 talking about live streaming.

A photo posted by Seth Goldstein (@phillycodehound) on

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There’s something happening here: Periscope in play during #FreddieGray protests in Baltimore

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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: Periscope users @dmitrisobol, @thefancyfriend and @alexandrafox5dc streamed live from the #FreddieGray demonstrations Saturday in Baltimore.

Large crowds marched through Baltimore on Saturday in protest following the case of Freddie Gray, who died earlier this month while in police custody. A handful of those present shared live video throughout the day using Pericope, a one of several popular new live-streaming applications.

“A day of mostly peaceful rallies to protest the death of Freddie Gray turned confrontational as dark fell over Baltimore on Saturday with demonstrators smashing the windows on police cars, blocking traffic near the Inner Harbor and shouting, “Killers!” at officers dressed in riot gear,” according to the Baltimore Sun, which continued: “The protest was the largest of daily gatherings in the week since Gray died. The 25-year-old had sustained spinal cord injuries while in police custody following his arrest April 12 near Gilmor Homes in West Baltimore.”

Periscope does not enable simple searching, sharing or saving — like Twitter or most or social media platforms — and user settings can make it even more difficult to find content. But there are solutions for discovering and curating user-generated reports.

Twitter’s Advanced Search page is a good place to start, where by adding “Periscope,” “live” and “Baltimore” in the “All of these words” field, you can see all of the related tweets.

(Working with the “Dates” and “Places” fields has not been yielding good results when searching for Periscope videos.)

When you get to the “Results” page, click the tiny “All” text-link near the top of the page to see a complete list.

You could also try replacing “Baltimore” with “FreddieGray” to see additional results, although tweets using both terms will appear in both sets of results.

However, this process is helpful only when Periscope users select the option to share a tweet before they “Start Broadcast” on a new stream.

Another effective method for tracking tweeted streams involves setting up search columns while using Twitter’s Tweetdeck desktop application, which Apple users can find in the App Store.

Then, you can set Tweetdeck to alert you with sounds and/or on-screen alerts when a tweet matches your search terms.

Archived videos from other users can be viewed only when using mobile devices — and only for 24 hours — but even under those conditions, some video pages inexplicably lack play buttons, rendering them useless except for confirming that the videos were streamed earlier.

In their haste to get rolling, it also seems as if many users fail to plant good search words in their titles, making them very difficult to locate. But if I spot a user share one video from an event, I then check their Twitter streams for additional live video links.

And some users continue to insist on shooting video horizontally, causing a little more confusion.

When you see what appears to be a cut between shots, the user has toggled from one camera to the other, either forward-facing or facing back at the user.

Periscope was clearly the app of choice this weekend in Baltimore. I spotted only one stream tagged #FreddieGray while searching Twitter for links to Meerket videos, but that screen showed only a view of the user’s TV as he watched news reports at home.

In every case, finding, saving and sharing live-streaming video has been much more labor intensive, and requires much more time and attention than other social media platforms.

But the effort can also lead to an important new layer of user-generated content.

We’re also going to need to get used to explaining those hearts on the Periscope screen when we copy the videos to other media.

Below: This video includes excepts from Saturday’s #FreedieGray demonstrations in Baltimore from users..

@dmitrosobol – an MBA, business strategist and “truth seeker” from Delaware,

@AlexandraFox5DC – a television reporter from Washington, and..

@TheFancyFriend – a fashion and lifestyle blogger from New York:

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