Haven’t got three hands? Streaming video on the job won’t be easy

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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: Photojournalist Joe Kaczmarek streamed live video as Air Force One pulled away yesterday.

Not so long along, journalists kept one hand free for a smoke or a cup of coffee. But with so many of us tasked with producing multimedia reports in recent years, there is more to carry and much more to do.

So, if you’re already expected to grab a photo and send it along with a tweet while covering events, all the while taking notes for the final story, when will anyone find the opportunity to stream live video from the scene?

Yesterday, we got a look at one example from Philadelphia photojournalist Joe Kaczmarek, who was covering President Obama’s arrival and departure from Philadelphia International Airport. (Yes, Joe’s the same guy who Periscoped from the Amtrak accident last week.)

After spending the day in nearby Camden, NJ, President Obama retuned to the airport on Marine One before climbing aboard Air Force One and flying back to Washington.

Kazamarek propped up his iPhone and started streaming as the helicopter came into view and made adjustments when he had a free hand — before ending the stream with a look at the big jet flying away.

Altogether, the video runs more than 17 minutes, but Obama was in view for just about 45 seconds. During that span, you need to stay focused with the camera you were paid to bring. But that still leaves a lot of time for streaming before you get escorted back from the camera position.

As I wrote about my own first attempt at covering news with Periscope — during the recent #PhillyisBaltimore rally — just managing oneself and the phone can be quite the juggling act.

And as I discovered during my first attempt to stream while cycling, you can’t watch the screen while you’re doing something else. So, you may never see the comments that evaporate, but at least you can continue your narration for the benefit of your viewers.

We have seen other newsies stream from the passenger seat when pulling up on an incident, using an iPhone mounted on another camera at the scene, and of course giving us a look at the action back in the studio.

But where is the opportunity on other assignments? While covering meetings or courts? Or while working on feature stories?

Please come back and share your ideas and experiences as this movement continues to develop.