Has the development of live streaming in social media had a positive or negative impact upon today's Journalism?
March 28, 2018
Today’s journalism has been changed to the extent that it is now influenced by social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Technological developments have seen media platforms develop since the creation of the first media site, Facebook, in 2004. These developments have included the creation of live streaming, with YouTube becoming the first to see this as a feature in 2011. This creation led other platforms to also hold this option, with Facebook gaining this in 2015 and Twitter (Periscope) in 2016. Statistics have shown that “28% of internet uses have watched a live stream on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.” (Smart Insights, 2017). With these developments, it has created a variety of exciting opportunities for journalism, some of which include the accessibility of content for journalists and creating more engaging pieces of work. On the contrary, it has also caused copyright laws to unintentionally be abused and also can see technical errors that can interrupt journalism reporting on current affairs nationally or internationally.
Live streamed videos have made journalism seem more alive and not processed. It suggests to viewers that that what is happening in the video isn’t staged nor is it biased. This has made journalism seem more engaging for many as it seems more genuine that what a pre-recorded news report would show. For example, during Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, there was footage recorded of protestors by journalist Alexander Rubinstein which showed the chaos of the protest, which was displayed to hundreds of thousands of people as it was a valuable piece of broadcast journalism. During the video, he states: “by my estimates there are about 300 or 400 people here. There has just been a ton of bake windows and Starbucks windows smashed.” (The Guardian, 2017). For many viewing this video, it may have appeared to be very surreal and viewed as a genuine insight to what was unfolding at the protest, rather than someone reporting from the back-scene of the event. The nature of the video includes public interest which makes this connection between those viewing and those who are recording the live stream.
Live streaming has also made digital journalism become more affordable and accessible for online users to view. For example, anyone now can live stream from their smartphones or laptops in social media apps. This has made valuable content for journalists more accessible to use in articles as a piece of information on a news report. The trend of ‘#Streamlism’ has now become known to the world of journalism with this name being adopted due to how streaming has changed journalism. This name has been adopted by many journalists including Matthew Price, who during the migrant crisis in 2015 went live multiple times reporting on affairs coming from the camps created by the migrants in Calais. He speaks about the vast cases of scabies and poor conditions in these “jungle camps” and the poor environments that many were living in. (BBC News, 2017). His use of mobile content and live streaming is what struck audiences during the time and is a perfect example of the ‘Streamlism’.
On the other hand, live streaming has also posed many threats for journalists today. The issue of copyright has unintentionally become well known to the industry and has shown to be a real risk for journalism. During the Mayweather-Pacquiao boxing match, periscope was used to go live and show footage of the event when cable companies were charging extortionate amounts of money to view the match from home. This was seen as
“unauthorised streaming” where many, including Nicholas Thompson, said that it was “a seemingly clear copyright violation”. (Kharpal, 2017). This caused disputes around journalists and everyday individuals using the live streaming app to broadcast other people’s work or ticketed events. Other examples of how live streaming can become a piece of copyright could simply be through playing music in the background of an event. This highlights how easy it is for journalists today to be convicted of copyright issues.
Finally, another disadvantage to live streaming for journalism could simply be technical errors. This could stem from a variety of reasons, whether this be due to low battery or internet connection. In particular, having poor internet connection would result in the live stream being low quality or constant stop-start phases making it buffer. Eventually, this would be frustrating and cause the audience that are watching to stop. In an interview between Thalia Fairweather and Andy Dangerfield, it was said that “connection was the biggest problem” and recommended using “good equipment to help with your livestreams on social media, especially round the three key areas of visuals, audio and connection.” (Fairweather, 2017). For Facebook in particular, it is expected for users to view glitches or slow connections as it is new to the live streaming industry. Low battery is also an issue for journalists, as it was recorded that “on an average phone, streaming for just 10 to 15 minutes can chew up 20 percent of your battery.” (Matter, 2017). Therefore, though live streaming does have this genuine and more engaging side to it, it does however have this risk that cannot be managed. For example, if reporting is occurring from Syria, somewhere that has a low chance of having good connection, then the likelihood of the video being good quality is low, which then questions whether the traditional method of pre-recorded footage is better suited for this type of journalism.
Whether live streaming is considered as a positive or negative, it is indisputably an exciting opportunity for journalism. Of course, there are risks of poor connection or low battery, however with the speed that technology is moving at in today’s world highlights this idea that anything can be created in the future, which is what makes this type of journalism so exciting. The future of live streaming holds exciting possibilities which will be explored in years to come, yet for now, it can be safely recognised as something which has created many opportunities for today’s journalism.