Oh, Facebook Live – the new feature that has been taking the world by storm. From hosting the first presidential debate to broadcasting content straight from one’s bedroom, some people believed it could compete against broadcast television, some doubted it would appeal to the masses. But what does the platform actually serve for emerging journalists – both newsroom and citizen?
Most of us would likely be familiar with the new feature, which allows one to post live video content on our profiles. For the newsroom journalist, audience engagement will be an emphasised aspect to look out for. According to the “Facebook for Journalists” page, Live exhibits the best way for audience interaction in real-time – by responding to questions, listening to opinions, and acknowledging “Live Reactions” to measure broadcast performance. As the page also states, “Your followers can also receive notifications when you go live so they know to tune in to your broadcasts at just the right time”, therefore encouraging increased exposure.
In terms of citizen journalism, this encourages the individual to generate a wider variety of compelling and diverse story topics and important leads for news media to follow. At least, that is what Northeastern University journalism professor John Wihbey said in an interview for Storybench, a “cookbook for digital storytelling”. An example of citizen journalism on Facebook Live includes the death of 32-year-old man Philando Castile after he was shot by a police officer in Minnesota, U.S.A.
It is no doubt Facebook Live will assist greatly in journalism. After the feature was first introduced to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, he noticed the average person tuned into live streams three times longer and commented ten times more than on regular videos.
Pushing Snapchat aside, Facebook Live has been the biggest story on social media this year, according to journalist Joe Lazauskas. After more than 800,000 views on a watermelon explosion BuzzFeed video, BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti states the company had broken the ice for Facebook Live, producing something online capable of overlapping the reach of live TV. Renowned news organisations such as the New York Times, CNN and Huffington Post had been paid immensely just by streaming live videos.
— Steven Perlberg (@perlberg) June 22, 2016
Indeed, with over 1.7 billion users on Facebook, no one can deny the power and exposure Facebook Live holds.