I’m used to hearing news on Twitter first. A few minutes ago, a story “broke” on Twitter about a possible explosion in New York, in the East Village, at 2nd and 7th. I know all this not because I turned on CNN, or opened up a news site, most of which are still talking about the Germanwings crash, but because various eyewitnesses reported it on Twitter and they happened to be retweeted by people I follow (this could lead to a post about how the people a user chooses to follow on Twitter can completely alter their user experience, but not today.)
Almost immediately, I saw a short video of the possible explosion shared on Twitter by an eyewitness. Within seconds the established news outlets, including NBC, had asked for permission to use the clip. This is where I first encountered a service called Capture.com, that mitigates the sharing and rights issues between amateur reporters who happen to be on the scene and established news outlets.
Now, I know this doesn’t preclude the newsroom from sending out a crew, perhaps with a better-equipped audio/video team. Yet these amateur, accidental reporters are doing the big companies a huge service: they allow them to be fast and to make important decisions about where to send out their professional news teams. Judging by that video, I’d send out a crew right away.
Why do I find this interesting? There has been a lot of talk this week about the plight of the big news companies, especially as Facebook would like to host their content on Facebook as opposed to linking to their sites, further reducing their advertising revenue. While we often tend to look at news organizations’ shrinking revenue as a result of the shift to digital, and then to mobile, we rarely look at reduced costs of “creating” the news. With so many bystanders now able to create high quality images and video, getting broadcast-quality content fast will become easier. Finally, imagine how the current interest in live-streaming from mobile phones, via apps like Periscope and Meerkat, will further disrupt the newsroom. Fascinating, right?
Now let’s hope the New York incident is not as serious as it looks from this video.