Live streaming journalism: 4 ways journalists are going live

Live streaming journalismLive streaming journalism is starting to take off. Well… it already has taken off, but now it’s really beginning to pick up pace. Live streams offer journalists a way to connect with audiences, so they are growing in popularity quickly. But there are plenty of different examples of live streaming journalism – and how it can be done well. Each demonstrate a different quality of the live stream and what it can add to journalism.

Here are four different examples of live streaming journalism…

Live stream from the scene

A headline and picture of a man
Tim Pool live from Istanbul – Vice

There’s nothing new in live news from the scene, but social streaming has allowed individual journalists to deliver footage and report live when unwieldy outside broadcast units would never work. This has grown quickly, but it’s still a place for learning. Often live streams aren’t all they’re cracked up to be: fixed cameras offering a live feed from the scene are now pretty common, but don’t – on their own – offer much that is interesting to the viewer. However, a growing number of exponents are doing interesting things.

Tim Pool was probably one of the first journalists to start using live streaming – working with Vice in 2013 he brought live footage from protests in Istanbul. This kind of work lends itself to protests, demonstrations and other, similar news events.

Why do it?

Because a camera phone is all you need. A reporter can offer instant, live coverage from a scene – bringing viewers directly to events.

Live stream news analysis

two men talking on facebook live
John Rentoul and Ben Chu of the Independent

If you like UK political news, then the Independent’s political team – headed by John Rentoul – is using Facebook Live to stream their analysis on Prime Minister’s Questions. There are other examples, such as, which uses its live streams in a similar way. Again, this coverage is aimed at getting behind the stories, offering insight and analysis from experts.

Facebook Live and Periscope – both popular for this kind of analysis – offer opportunities for readers to interact. They also benefit, often from ready-made audiences, which make it easier to promote the stream.

Why do it?

Hot-takes – analysis published quickly in the wake of events – provide insight at the time when it is most enthusiastically consumed (immediately after something has happened). In a live stream, journalists can provide commentary and observations quickly. As a format, it also lends itself to discussion – where different opinions can be presented together easily.

Live stream a back channel

Man talking on facebook live

ITV news has been using Facebook Live to give their senior correspondents the chance to answer questions from viewers live. It has been particularly useful for major news stories, like the US elections and the Brexit referendum. This can create an interesting backchannel on the news that ITN (which provides ITV News) is covering. It works at least partly because the correspondents are comfortable in front of the camera – which helps!

Why do it?

The backchannel gives viewers an insight into the news they won’t get from broadcasting news.

Covering live news events

Screen still saying 'Election night: what happens now'
Buzzfeed Election Review on Facebook

Buzzfeed UK used Facebook Live for its coverage of the 2017 general election. With a mixture of guests, hosts and reporters talking offering commentary on an exciting night, it offered an alternative to the more traditional coverage from the BBC and ITV.

It also serves as a model for others who are thinking about covering a news event relatively cheaply (or at least with much less expense than the production you’d expect from news broadcasters).

Why do it?

Facebook Live offers an inexpensive way of reaching a large number of viewers relatively easily. A live (on-diary) news event that takes a few hours to develop is probably best served by this kind of coverage.


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