It’s no secret that journalism is an ever-changing medium and journalists must learn to adapt. With the amount of new social media platforms available, I think journalists have been doing a reasonable job at familiarising themselves with these new mediums and finding ways to tell stories through them.
One of the newest mediums is through Facebook’s live stream, which now lets users start a live broadcast which their Facebook friends can view. News media including The New York Times, Courier Mail, CNN and the Huffington Post have all jumped on the Facebook live streaming bandwagon.
If you’re unsure of what Facebook live is and want to know more, check out the video below!
The New York Times public editor Liz Spayd wrote an opinion piece on the newspaper’s use of Facebook Live. “I need no convincing that live, interactive video is medium worth embracing,” says Liz. “If you’re not experimenting in the digital age, you won’t survive.
On the one hand Liz spoke of the potential live streaming brings to the world of storytelling. “These videos represent a potentially transformational form of journalism because they let stories unfold organically, live, and with the audience able to change the experience.”
However on the other, she questioned whether this new medium suits The New York Times’ journalistic style. “The newsroom has shown that innovation doesn’t have to equate with poor quality,” she says. “Too many [Facebook live streams] don’t live up to the journalistic quality one typically associates with The New York Times.”
America’s KXLY-TV reporter Melissa Luck talked about the advantages of Facebook Live in a Poynter Institute article. “The spontaneous nature of live video is really most of its allure,’ she said. “Also, it has given viewers a chance to interact directly with our reporters and anchors, and it has been beneficial for both sides of that video stream to have that interaction.”
In the video provided below for Reynolds Journalism Institute, Melissa said Facebook Live turned an ordinary day time story of a police ride along into a story with ‘such a great community benefit’. “People were asking the trooper direct questions during the ride along, asking questions that they wanted to know, not just what we think they should want to know,” she said.
Conversely, in another Poynter Institute article The Verge engagement editor Helen Havlak said there were some problems with the stream. “Our biggest issues right now are finding a strong enough Wi-Fi signal when out in the field, and increasing video quality,” Helen said. “We’d love to see support for other types of cameras with external microphones, and the ability to upload higher-resolution files.”
In the same Reynolds Journalism Institute video as previously mentioned, Melissa said a strong Wi-Fi connection is important when news is being broadcast via Facebook Live. “I think people are a little bit forgiving of a signal dropping and those types of things, but how many times are they going to keep coming back if the signal keeps dropping.”
The unconventional medium provided through Facebook’s live stream evidently divides opinions. While the quality and style of live streaming may not be quite up to scratch just yet, the opportunities available for journalists to connect with audiences and deliver stories in a fresh way gives hope to the industry.