Journalism in an Instant: How Livestreaming is Changing Our News

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Live news is nothing new.

Radio newscasts date back to 1920, and live video shortly was introduced after the television.

But now that most smartphones can livestream from nearly anywhere, anyone can report breaking news if they’re in the right place at the right time.

By leveraging video streaming tech, amateur journalists are shaking things up in the media – and by all accounts, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Live news anywhere, anytime

Every day, more people turn to live-streaming platforms for news.

By last year’s second quarter, 28 percent of internet users reported watching a live stream via Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

Now that our smartphones can double as news cams, a multitude of new voices have a way to reach their audiences.

Sam Dolnick, who oversees digital initiatives with The New York Times, talks about how technology is changing the future of journalism.

Dolnick says: “Streaming TV feels like a new frontier where old rules about length, format and expectations are exploding in real time. When you’re not locked into 30 minutes with commercial breaks, what other conventions can you throw out?”

Journalists covering social movements have been quick to adopt live-stream journalism. The technology became an essential tool for citizen journalists in Iran.

And by democratizing the process of streaming live news, the possibilities now are endless.

How to dive in

Journalists have become interested in live streaming, due to the utility and ease of covering stories at the drop of a hat.

In 2007, Justin Kan, founder of, used a head-mounted webcam to continuously stream his life. This became known as “lifecasting” and sparked wide interest in the possibilities of live-stream video. (Kan later went on to co-found Twitch, the massively-popular video game streaming platform.)

Tim Pool commonly is cited as one of the first journalists to adopt livestreaming. Pool’s unique spin on live journalism grabbed the attention of Vice News, and he began working for Vice in this capacity in 2013.

While the only hardware needed to livestream is a smartphone, the platforms that broadcast livestreams greatly differ:

Finally, earlier this year, Journalist’s Toolbox released a comprehensive list of mobile journalism resources that detail the many different platforms available for live-stream journalism.

But wait, we’re just getting started.

One of the most interesting developments in live journalism comes from China – a country that has embraced live-streaming culture.

Reuter’s Journalism, Media, and Technology Trends and Predictions 2018 report explains, “Some Chinese mobile news sites have introduced small per article payments for journalists/authors and the same process applies to livestreaming of content.”

It’s no secret that payment for such material is something journalists and news organizations likely would love to harness.

Micropayments based around mobile devices continue to have a huge impact in China, and these services undoubtedly will catch on in the west soon.

Micropayments would make it easier for independent live-stream journalists to get paid by followers. It also has the capacity to completely transform the economy surrounding digital journalism.

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Julian Dossett is a freelance writer and black coffee enthusiast. He’s based in New Mexico.

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