Believe it or not, Twitter has been around for nine years now. Shortly after Twitter launched in March of 2006, The American Journalism Review (AJR) published an article that referred to Twitter as “…the latest in an ever-lengthening list of overhyped technologies and cultural techno-fads stretching back to CB radio.” The industry largely doubted the viability of Twitter as a news platform. They will not repeat this mistake with Periscope and Meerkat, two new live-video apps that enable anyone with a smartphone to broadcast a live-video feed to their Twitter followers. Just as Twitter has become the first broadcast breaking news in text and photo formats, so too will it now bring us live-video coverage of news as it unfolds.
Back to the AJR article for a second – because it provides a great illustration for how news organizations have evolved their approach to new platforms and consumption patterns across their audiences – the author posed the question of whether Twitter was a fad, or if it could actually end up being useful for news distribution, reporting or source-building. It was a wait and see attitude that dominated an industry rooted in traditions and paralyzed by a lack of innovation and willingness to change.
In one of my first blog posts on Journalistics, nearly two years after the launch of Twitter, I shared the results of a survey I conducted with more than 100 professional journalists at the time. I interviewed reporters and producers about the biggest challenges facing them in preparing the news in a rapidly-changing media environment. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a single mention of “learning how to use Twitter in my reporting.” I’ll say it again, that was two years after the launch of Twitter.
Fast-forward to 2015 and we’re witnessing the next transformation in social media-based reporting with the launch of Meerkat and Periscope. These services launched over the course of the past couple of weeks. Every minute, news organizations, reporters and a bunch of other early adopters are starting to leverage these new platforms to broadcast their live-video feeds to anyone that will watch. If you aren’t yet familiar with how this works, once you click a button to begin the stream, your Twitter followers are notified that you’re broadcasting. They just have to click the link and their preferred device becomes the new window into the world of breaking news (or anything else publishers choose to broadcast). [Read more…]