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Newsgathering from your desktop

David Brewer PDF Print E-mail
Screengrab from LivestationTuesday, 24 November 2009

Screengrab from Livestation

With two free social networking tools, Twitter and Livestation, a blogger/journalist can break news in words and pictures from their laptop, at home, at the airport, or from the field.


Twitter is regularly used to send out breaking news alerts, either by individuals informing their social networking circle or by news organisations.

Now Livestation, which streams live TV over broadband, has integrated Twitter to its latest release, making it possible for news gatherers — both professional and amateur — to distribute images and captions from live events.

The result is that anyone can tweet as they watch, take a screen grab of what they see and send the image with their tweet. So the tweet acts as the caption and the grab as the image.


Imagine how that would have been used as the world watched the coverage of 9/11 after the first plane hit the World Trade Center. Thousands would have grabbed images of the second plane hitting the second tower and tweeted the news.

And the beauty of Livestation is that you can reduce the feed to a widget size and have it running always on top, so you can get on with other activities, such as writing a script, writing emails, and tweeting and browsing as you monitor the action in the corner of your screen, hitting the grab button as soon as you see something interesting.

What’s more, with the latest free client, you can have two channels playing simultaneously so that you can monitor two news channels at the same time and send a tweetpic of the first to have the pictures.

Multiscreen view with live chat


Multiscreen view with live chat

You can also chat live with others about what you are watching by opening the chat window. So watching, chatting, grabbing and tweeting as the news unfolds.

But what about rights?

Tweeting is a social networking activity, i.e. talking to your own social circle. But increasingly it is being used for news dissemination. So what is the legal position regarding grabbing images from a live feed and tweeting them? The image ends up on the tweetpic website and will be embedding in blogs and published globally, so surely that amounts to publishing the material of others without permission?

Livestation’s CEO, Matteo Berlucchi, has already looked into this.

“A screen grab of a live channel is simply a brief snapshot of what’s happening on the channel and, as such, is not substantial enough to amount to a breach of the broadcaster’s intellectual property rights. Livestation always credits the broadcaster on the screen grab itself, which is great promotion for the broadcaster.”

What this new development offers the amateur and professional newsgatherer is immediate access to breaking news and images — and the chance to be the first with a story. I can imagine many flicking the free channels Livestation offers looking to be the first to capture a news breaking image.

So, where next? Berlucchi is confident that a future version of Livestation will make it possible for uses to tweet video clips taken from live streams, and distributing those clips in the same way.

Are the broadcasters worried?  Madhav Chinnappa is Head of Development & Rights at BBC News.
«Copyright in these situations is complicated.  The video that might be «grabbed» could come from a variety of different sources, so it is your classic grey area.»

Changing audience behaviour

Once this happens, it probably won’t be long before traditional TV news packages, crafted from images gathered as events unfold, will feel out-of-date and stale compared to the steady stream of images, words and clips being distributed throughout the social networks.

Perhaps traditional, mainstream media will incorporate such tools in their journalist’s desktops so that they can benefit, too, and provide speedier updates to their 24×7 rolling news offerings. If they don’t they may be left behind by those using their material in a way more attuned to changing audience behaviour and expectations.

Note: The author of this piece, David Brewer, of Media Ideas International Ltd, worked with Livestation in developing some of the editorial features for the player. David also runs this site, Media Helping Media. David tweets @helpingmedia and @mediaideas and runs a Media Helping Media Facebook group, Media Helping Media Linkedin group, and a You Tube site.


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