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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.)
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,