The Revolution Has Been Televised

By Andrew Gauthier 

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I carry a live truck in my pocket. It weighs five ounces and can broadcast live streaming video and audio to thousands of television viewers within five seconds. No hassles with hunting for a parking spot, no microwave mast, no cables, no tripod.

Thanks to my cell phone with Qik software, I am the photographer, engineer and reporter. Hello Star Trek technology! It’s cheap, it’s easy to use and it’s available to anyone–and it’s going to revolutionize television journalism even more with live video cell phone shots produced not only by journalists, but by bystanders and witnesses at breaking news scenes.

This past week I used this phenomenal technology to file a live report via my iPhone at KOB-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico. If it’s not the first live shot using streaming cell phone video, it’s certainly among the first. My inbox has been flooded with emails from news directors and reporters from across the country wondering how I did it. (Video here).

This is how: Cell phone video streams to website. Computer with website is taken live. There. It’s that easy.

I’m giddy we took this risk despite the huge chance of me looking like a pixilated mess. We pulled it off quite well, I think, despite some hiccups in the video. It was a risk that’s proving to be effective as television news managers look for cheaper and more efficient ways to produce news.

Yes, this technology is still too crude to replace our conventional equipment of big live trucks and big cameras. But it works and the quality is easy to forgive, especially in situations where live trucks can’t go or in places where live trucks would draw too much attention. There’s no doubt this technology will improve and eventually replace the heavy, bulky equipment we still use.

But forget about my iPhone live shot as a reporter… I’m just waiting for the time when television stations start taking live cell phone video feeds from bystanders at fires, traffic accidents, crime scenes and even from victims themselves. Just wait until we hear about a hostage somewhere streaming live cell phone video in a bank or wherever. Talk about eyewitness news. And why not? We already take live cell phone audio hits from people. Video is the next big step.

This type of citizen journalism is already happening and if television stations don’t embrace the technology, all of us TV people will be left behind in the digital dust. Oh wait… we’re already getting scooped thanks to Twitter, Qik, and Ustream.

I believe in order for television stations to survive as news outlets, citizen journalism and social media must be absorbed into our format. After all, the internet has already devoured our exclusive roles reporters. Everyone has become a journalist with their own blogs. Now everyone can become a live television station.

Jeremy Jojola is an Emmy award winning investigative reporter for KOB-TV in Albuquerque, New Mexico who uses social media and the web to generate stories and find leads.

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