Are you a streamalist? Here’s how to get started:

Above: I grabbed these frames Tuesday night when I spotted Argentine “periodista mochilero” (backpack journalist) Marcos Alvarez — or @PiodeMarcos — promising a 360-degree Periscope view of Times Square.

This site was designed to recognize and analyze the potential impact and opportunities created for journalism as more smartphone users embrace popular new live streaming mobile video platforms.

But when does streaming become journalism? Does it matter if the person holding the phone is a traditional or credentialed journalist, or is it sufficient if a citizen journalist is simply meeting the standard practices of the profession at the moment?

And what if video created without journalism in mind earns news value simply by virtue of its content? Will there be pressure for faster verification because it’s live?

We’re going to have to discuss intellectual property too. And a future post will explain my techniques for recording video for redistribution.

But for now, let’s just look at the steps you need to follow in order to start producing live streaming video news:

• You will probably want to use a mobile phone with a broadband connection, but working with a tablet with a camera and using wifi might be sufficient at times. Early apps favored iOS over Android but that appears to be evening out quickly. I haven’t yet seen any reports on possible broadband data costs, but an unlimited plan like I have is probably not a bad idea.

• Then, you’re going to need a Twitter account to work with Periscope of Meerkat — the hot new apps. Existing Twitter accounts will do, or you can set up a new one.

• Periscope and Meerkat can use all of the accounts on your Twitter app, but toggling among them can cost you precious seconds when you are reporting live.

• Next, you will need to download the free Persicope or Meerkat apps if you are an iPhone user, or Tarsii if you are on Android. Then, you need to sync the new streaming app with your Twitter accounts. It’s really simple.

• In the latest version of Periscope, first-time users will be met with a quick, explanatory tour. This may be true of other apps as well.

• Before you start streaming on Persicope, you can toggle a button on the screen to determine if you will tweet the link — or not. (Why not?)

• There’s also a button which allows all users to post live text comments — or just people you follow. I can imagine wanting to limit trolls, but until you have an audience of your own, you might learn more about the process by letting everyone in on the chat.

• Note that the chat button seems to cause some confusion. The default (grey’d out) position lets everybody in, and highlighting the button permits only your followers. A lot of users seem to mistakenly presume the opposite.

The most important step for drawing participants to your stream is probably your response to the pale text area near the top left corner of the broadcast screen, which asks: What are you seeing now?

• The title text you enter will determine what your followers will see — which is especially important if they have set up push alerts. But this text will also populate the tweet created on your account by the video app, if you have selected that option.

• While Periscope affords space for more than 100 characters to title your stream, the app will also add “Live on Periscope” to your tweet — and a link to the live video — so, it will append the rest of your text. In other words; keep it short.

• When you are ready, click: Start Broadcast!

• Just remember that you are live — across the globe — and while the Periscope archives your video for just 24 hours, others will find ways to record if they want.

I haven’t figured out the maximum duration, but I streamed a video for nearly 45 minutes recently on Periscope without interruption. It seems as if only the first 100 viewers can get in on the chat, even when you set it up without limits.

There’s a lot more to learn and discuss, including when users seem to log in and out, how they engage with text messages, the meaning and value of those hearts on your stream and much more. But you should have what you need to get started now.

Looking ahead: if we are going to call our work journalism, we should adhere to the principles, and keep law and ethics in mind. Here are some guidelines to think about for now:

• Principles of Journalism – Project for Excellence in Journalism

Code of Ethics – National Press Photographers Association

Best Practices – Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma


Beam those streams to a big screen: Watching live video apps on TV

Above: I recently caught these streams from Periscope users at the New England Aquarium, atop the Washington Monument and even one flying inside a Philadelphia Police helicopter.

While it seems obvious that new live-streaming applications such as Periscope and Meerkat were designed with mobile consumption in mind, I sometimes like watching streams on my big-screen TV at home.

My method requires wifi and an Apple TV device, and it’s pretty simple. Once you have both your phone and the Apple TV box logged into the same wifi network — and with the Apple TV cabled to your TV — all you have to do is:

1) Swipe up from the home screen on your iPhone
2) Tap AirPlay
3) Wait for the Airplay screen
4) Tap Apple TV
5) Wait a second for the Mirroring button to appear
6) And drag the Mirroring button to the right


That’s it! You can watch Pericope, Meerkat or anything else from your phone and on the big screen at the same time.

You can tilt the phone to view horizontal videos from your Camera Roll or from YouTube on the big screen, but vertical-only applications like Periscope are going to make you wish you had a vertical TV, as I discussed in a previous post.

Connecting your home audio system to your TV can further enhance the experience, as I enjoyed while watching Diana Ross performing last night in Las Vegas:

Finally — while I haven’t tried it — I am wondering if connecting your phone to your TV with a Thunderbolt-to-HDMI cable might works as well for a little less money.

Who’s got other ideas for enhancing the live stream experience?


Lessons from the bike lane: Pedaling while Periscoping

Above: Moments from my Periscope tour of Philadelphia by bike show Segway riders along the Schuylkill River, the north portal of Philadelphia City Hall and the Rocky statue by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Over the weekend I relived one of my all-time favorite vacations as I watched a woman streaming live video on Periscope while bicycling around Paris. Much to my surprise, her voice was also very clear as she identified landmark after landmark.

So, I decided to try the same thing here in Philadelphia. And I learned a few lessons.

First, I went out and got a waterproof phone case — like this one — and mounted it to my handlebars.

Obviously, it would be tough enough — and probably irresponsible — to try to read incoming messages while riding.

But if you think about the way the phone needs to be installed for the camera to face forward, that leaves the screen pointing back at your seat, rather than up where you can read it anyway.

Understanding that people would log in at different times, I hollered frequent greetings and explained why I couldn’t read all of their messages.

From time to time, I would stop and look at the phone — first to make sure there were still viewers — but also to invite a few questions and respond before resuming my ride.

I took in a lot of our landmarks, including Philadelphia City Hall, the Thinker statue at the Rodin Museum and the Rocky statue by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

I still don’t know the maximum duration of a Periscope video, but I kept this one streaming for nearly 45 minutes without interruption.

It did not seem as if many people noticed the gadgetry on my handlebars but I did get a lot of funny looks for narrating the ride out loud by myself.

When I got home, I watched the video on my Apple TV, using the copy which I had saved to the Camera Roll on my iPhone, because the online version evaporates in 24 hours.

Guessing that few of you would really care to watch me take such a long ride, I used Final Cut Pro to make this times-lapse version — sped up 20 times — and posted it to YouTube:


You can’t unsee that: There’s no deleting the live experience

When Winnipeg Free Press photojournalist Boris Minkevich arrived at the fire scene yesterday, he pressed Periscope’s “Start Broadcast” button on his iPhone — which he had mounted atop one of his still cameras — and took us behind the scenes as he got close to the action.

As a former news photographer myself, I marveled at reliving the process — stepping toward a gate and pausing to check for resistance before moving into places that most people don’t get to see. And hearing his camera click when people, backgrounds and good light came together.

After I reached out, Minkevich tweeted one of his photos from the scene with a little explanation of his workflow:

And then there was the interview
. A fire department official explained that a grass fire had damaged some fences and sheds and had caused an estimated $10,000 damage.

He delivered the news in a perfectly appropriate but casual tone, the kind of response which might greet a reporter with a notebook.

Then, as he began to understand that his words were going out live, his cadence sharpened, he called the photographer “Sir,” and he repeated the information, more like it might be delivered to a TV crew with a big, shiny truck, a camera on a tripod and a reporter in a colorful blazer.

Then, shifting back to a friendlier tone, he suggested that the photographer should have told him he was live and asked “Are you going to delete the first part?”

Pioneering journalists – like Minkevich in this case — always raise a lot of questions and this exercise left me with many.

Why should tone matter, how did we get like this and — most importantly — what’s going to happen now that live streaming video news coverage is emerging with a new low profile, more easily and potentially much more often?

Do we owe it to our sources to help them understand that our coverage is now live, online and forever? Maybe we should all get phone cases that say as much? With a big red dot on the back?

With the sudden and rapid emergence of easy mobile live-streaming, journalists will face a new round of ethical, practical and legal questions.

We may have every right to stream comments from public officials in public places, but are we being fair if we don’t inform them?

Or, has it always been a mistake to presume sources understood that everything they say in front of a phone could wind up online, globally and forever?

Finally, Minkevich tweeted this photo of his setup:

Watch the report:

Looking ahead: In a future post, I will detail how I captured and shared this video but for now I will tell you that there is no simple solution at present.

I have figured out that you can view archived videos from Periscope users for only 24 hours — and only on mobile devices, not web browsers. So, that doesn’t make anything easier.

Meanwhile: What else is wrong with the latest live-streaming platforms, and what are the workarounds?

And what other questions are coming to mind for you?


Imagine texting your favorite performers while they play for you; or just do it now with Periscope

Above: Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose reads messages and waves goodbye after singing “Ain’t No Sunshine” for a small, spontaneous audience Tuesday night on Periscope.

For many years now, I have been plopping down on the couch at the end of my day and checking YouTube’s daily “Most Viewed” list on my Apple TV, just to see what made people click. I can’t begin to summarize the countless trends and discoveries, but at last I have found something much more interesting to do.

A couple of nights ago, I figured out how to enhance the experience of mobile streaming video consumption by mirroring my iPhone screen on the Apple TV device — which I have connected to a big screen and my home audio system.

I watched and listened as one Periscope user streamed Neil Diamond singing “Cracklin’ Rosie” during a live a concert — and it sounded terrific; even though I’m not much of a Neil Diamond fan.

I found another user streaming from a Fleetwood Mac arena show, but the house lights were up; so, it must have been streaming either too early or perhaps during intermission.

Then, I hit the jackpot. There was Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose, strumming an acoustic guitar and singing into her phone — where about 100 of us were watching. Again, the sound was outstanding.

If you don’t know Pomplamoose, they’re not easy to define but it’s safe to call them exceptional innovators.

So, I simply texted what I was thinking: that I should not have been surprised to find her playing on this emerging platform. Mostly, I listened. And then I captured the frame grabs above just before she bailed.

This interactive experience felt like such a breakthrough — to text one of my favorite entertainers while she performed — that it made me wonder if this was how captivated TV viewers felt when they tuned in to Sing Along with Mitch 50 years ago.

Want more? One night later, I stumbled onto the stream from a guy who calls himself Marks Records as he rapped whatever anybody typed in the message window. Before I knew it, I had him rapping about my beautiful wife, our lazy housecat and my pitch that we all need to work together for peace.

I lost that link but found him doing it again yesterday. It’s quite an experience but definitely #NSFW.

I have also found myself attending sporting events through other people’s stream’s, often from the front rows. One guy streamed as Vin Scully read the lineups on the big screen at a Dodgers game. Other users took me to see NBA and NHL matches on recent nights.

The only problem is that you have to wade through a lot of baloney to find the good stuff, at least until somebody develops better search protocols. In terms of quality, this experience can feel more like surfing YouTube’s “Recently Added” queue rather than the “Most Viewed.”

Above all, streaming to the Apple TV left me wishing that I had my TV mounted vertically on the wall at home, and wondering how long it will be before mobile video production makes that the norm. Or, maybe we will have rotating screens? Time will tell.

Bottom line: Either I’m crazy or this is the biggest shift in social sharing in many, many years. What do you think?

Finally, randomly, this is still my favorite Pomplamoose video:


Set up alerts to catch live streaming news video

Above: Breaking news reporter Tim Pamplin tweeted from @nightcam when he streamed video of this fire in Detroit Tuesday night. The view shown above demonstrsates how it looked on my laptop browser, after I followed a live link from Tweetdeck to, but the archive view will work only if you are reading this post on a mobile device.

Periscope exploded onto the scene as a breaking news tool on the day it was released, when users turned their phones toward a disaster in New York City. But what about news that doesn’t take place so close to our global media epicenter?

I haven’t yet spotted one of those articles telling me which newsies to follow — as we have seen with other social media platforms — although I suspect we will be inundated with them sooner or later.

For now, I am setting up Tweetdeck columns on my laptop with search words including “Periscope” and “live,” while sometimes adding “police,” “fire” or “explosion,” for example.

Then, I open column-specific preferences by clicking the icon at the top, right corner of the new search column I just created.

Click on “Alerts” and “ “Popups,” which — you guessed it — will make alerts pop up on your laptop screen whenever somebody auto-tweets their Periscope videos and uses those keywords in the title.

The Periscope app automatically adds “Periscope’ and “live” to the tweet. However, if the user doesn’t title the report with useful search words — or if they don’t set up Periscope to tweet at all — we’re pretty much out of business, as far as I can tell.

(I had been also experimenting with “breaking news” as a search term but a lot of people joke about it, for example when their friends take out the trash or do the dishes.)

Here’s a mobile trick, albeit imprecise: If you find a user who streams breaking news, you can swipe right while watching on your phone and click to “follow” them on Periscope. Then, you can go into your iPhone Notifications and set it to alert you onscreen when those you follow are active.

But I have to admit that I don’t think these strategies will scale if the practice grows in popularity, as I suspect it will. So, let’s hope better tools come along — and soon!

I have spent less time with Meerkat and, and the latter product doesn’t even use searchable titles, although they tell me they will in an upcoming release.

Meanwhile, please leave a comment below if you have others ideas for tracking live videos and I will share them in future posts.


How I got the bug for live streaming news

If you have ever been any sort of live news addict, you have to check out what’s been happening lately on Periscope and other live streaming video platforms.

I got the bug last week. While on a bus from Philadelphia to New York, I started surfing and found Chicago TV reporter Stacey Bacca covering the aftermath of the tornados in Rochelle, Illinois.

I felt like I was there.

(I grabbed the screenshots above by simultaneously clicking the home button and power button on my iPhone. They land in your “Camera Roll” folder.)

So far, I haven’t figured out a simple system to save and share links, but I’m working on it.

During the same trip, I watched a Mashable reporter trace the last steps of Walter Scott, the South Carolina man killed in a recent police shooting.

In fact, I surfed through so many news reports that I can’t remember them all. And Unfortunately, there’s no system to easily track your history.

Then, yesterday, the experience got even crazier. Reporter Brad Phenow was reporting on a house fire for his newspaper in Fairbault, Minnesota.

I was asking questions and he was answering — which is how it all works — but then I asked him to pinch his screen and zoom in on the scene.

And it happened! Wow.

You can watch the report here, but only on your phone. The link leaves you at a dead end on the desktop, simply telling you where to get the app.

In another post soon, I will address more problems with bookmarking, saving and sharing videos via Periscope and other apps.

And I am working on some partial solutions which I will also share soon.

Future reports will address additional complications, including authority, ethics, rights and more.

I’m also wondering if I should just deliver these reports on live video, if only to save the time I spend typing and proofing.

What do you think so far?