Five hours after Periscope activated the Twitter share functionality, the world of citizen journalism stepped into a brand new era.
7.17pm GMT in New York City, a gas leak caused an earth-shattering explosion and buildings began collapsing. As is the modern way, news spread on Twitter within minutes. Reports of loud noises, smoke and flames were delivered by messages, images and, for the first time, mass live citizen broadcasting.
Across the world, millions were watching smoke billow from the collapsing buildings via numerous mobile phones. The most impressive thing? This had all happened before broadcast news were live-reporting from the scene, and a comparative lightyear before news websites had linked the story.
This is a momentous moment in news reporting.
Let me qualify. This new technology plays to the most important aspects of sharable content; reactive, personable and exclusive. It appeals to the influence-seeking vanity of human nature, and it offers another route into becoming a social media celebrity. Most significantly, the natural adoption of Periscope has been immediate. Users understand the technology and more importantly, they want to use it. Search ‘Live on #Periscope’ on Twitter and you’ll note the thousands of Periscope streams that are being launched by the hour – even by the minute.
Even Sky got involved early on using Periscope backstage in the #FightforNumber10:
We know that Periscope isn’t the first. Meerkat is already here but the telling differential between the two apps is two-fold. Firstly, Meerkat hasn’t enjoyed the same development time as Periscope and you can see the difference. Periscope offers a slick and clean user interface, a simple mechanic to view with other streams and engage with the broadcasting user. However, perhaps most significantly, Periscope is owned by Twitter and they will ensure that the predominant app that exists on the Twitter platform is not Meerkat, but Periscope
The technology offers us wonderful opportunities to get further, unrivalled access to interesting and engaging content. In the changing rooms after a team win the cup, for example, would be the next level of access for fans. All of a sudden, production costs are void. Investigating the opportunities in full is for another time and place, but it’s exciting for our industry, especially as content creators.
It’s early days, and there are upcoming issues. Rights, for example; What happens when a Periscope is used to live-stream a sports event? How about censorship? When there are horrific events, who is there to moderate? It’s a cause for question. On a more practical level, our industry needs to consider the potential impact on embargoes and held content.
Regardless of the opportunity and concerns, what is abundantly clear is the magnitude of what occurred on the 26th March 2015. News reporting has changed, once again.