Archive for the ‘Live streaming’ Category

Facebook and the second screen experience

Facebook is trying to create a unique second screen experience, and hopes its partnership with CNN can aid it. (Photo: Pixabay)

Facebook is trying to create a unique second screen experience, and hopes its partnership with CNN can give it a huge boost. (Photo: Pixabay)

Editor’s note: This post was amended at 2:09pm CT to reflect updated information on CNN and Facebook’s partnership on the debates.

Tonight, CNN and Facebook are to host the first presidential debate between the Democratic candidates. While political observers wonder what exchanges will be made between front-runners Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, some eyes are on Facebook, and if it can truly create a true second screen experience in the face of social competition?

CNN will be using Facebook Mentions to stream the debate from its Facebook page, the first page to use Mentions to stream video, according to a report from Mashable. CNN, at the time of this posting, has nearly 19 million likes on its page. It was originally available to public figures who had been verified by the site.

The question of second screen arises as Facebook was ranked as the second most viewed source for political news for the baby boomer generation, in research earlier this year by the Pew Research Center. The social network was ranked the top viewed source for political news for millennials according to additional research.

When it comes to debates and major events, many types of social media outlets become second screen experiences. With this partnership, Facebook is attempting to be the provider of the most unique of those experiences.

In an interview with Mashable, Andrew Morse, CNN’s Executive Vice President of Editorial, said events like debates have become instant social events, and the ability to have a seamless experience was crucial.

“To be able to have that ‘second screen’ that is not a prosthetic limb, [that is] seamlessly flowing between TV and happening on Facebook — it’s a really neat concept,” Morse said. “It’s a really elegant dance in certain ways.”

Facebook does however have some competition on that dance floor, most notably with Twitter and Snapchat. Last week, Twitter introduced Moments, the feature that had been known by many as Project Lightning, which is likely too to play a social curating role with tonight’s debate.

Snapchat is also trying to find a footing, as it planned to hire journalists to document the campaign through snaps, in addition to its Discover channel, of which CNN is a content provider. Its head of news, Peter Hamby, who the social network hired earlier this year, was a correspondent for the cable channel in its Washington bureau.

It is unclear how many debates CNN is partnering with Facebook on. Facebook and CNN have an exclusive partnership on the debates for the rest of the primary season, according to a Facebook spokesperson SPJ reached by telephone.

Yet, no matter the results of tonight’s debate, a two-fold question emerges, which social network can provide the best second screen experience, and how can news organizations respond to it? Ultimately, that answer will come not from pollsters, pundits or the public in the series of primaries and elections that will follow, but from the social networks themselves, and the direction they will take to create an experience for its users that will be unique from all the rest.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, is SPJ’s Community Coordinator and is a contributing blogger to the SPJ blog network on British media issues and social media’s role in the future of journalism. 

Outside of SPJ, Veeneman is Co-Student Life Editor and a contributing writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post unless otherwise specified are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital community, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

How Meerkat and Periscope can transform social journalism

You may have seen some tweets appear in your stream over the past couple of weeks utilizing two tools recently made available to the public – Meerkat and Periscope. Immediately, news organizations began testing them, seeing what works and what couldn’t work when it came to developing new relationships with audiences.

Indeed, as testing of these platforms took place in organizations around the world, there had been an increasing consensus that more work should be done, including the British publication The Economist, who did a live stream on Meerkat discussing the British economy. The Economist, according to a report from the Guardian newspaper in Britain, was one of the first UK news outlets to use it.

“Live streaming is fun and has the informality of Twitter rather than the seriousness of TV, so we should do more of it,” said Tom Standage, the paper’s deputy editor, in an interview with The Guardian, adding that it could bring wider benefits to the paper’s coverage of the UK’s general election, due to be held in May.

These tools, albeit new, have the power to transform news organizations’ overall engagement with audiences on social media, as social video continues to become increasingly popular not just on these apps, but on apps including Twitter, Instagram and Vine.

Yet, Meerkat and Periscope are able to stand out in the vast world of social media, because of the guaranteed immediacy of the interaction of audiences, helping them get the full story, especially on breaking events. There are no restrictions on time, and the experience of streaming becomes a live conversation, something Twitter had been keen to emphasize with its acquisition of Periscope.

With a number of directions that can be taken from a content standpoint, newsrooms should not be hesitant with these apps or incorporating them into a social strategy. Indeed, inclusion of them will be a step forward for the organization, and can allow more out of the box thinking when it comes to social strategies.

If you’ve not used it, take time to think now about it, and what Meerkat and Periscope can do for your newsroom. I’m sure you’ll find that the benefits outweigh the cons.

Alex Veeneman, a Chicago based SPJ member and founder of SPJ Digital, blogs on social media’s role in journalism for Net Worked, and serves as Community Coordinator for SPJ. Veeneman also is Deputy Editor, Media Editor and a writer for Kettle Magazine, an online publication in the UK. You can interact with Veeneman on Twitter here.

The views expressed in this blog post are that of the author’s, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the SPJ Digital executive, the board and staff of the Society of Professional Journalists, or its members.

Streamlining your social media posting: How to update more than one site at a time


Social media can help you in your reporting, help you get out the word about your stories and help you build own brand as a journalist.

But there are so many social media and social networking sites these days, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed — like there are too many to update on a regular basis.

In many cases, it’s possible to update more than one social media site or service at a time with a single post using some tools we’ll talk about today. They might make your life easier in navigating social media.

Facebook Connect: This is the simplest way to update two services at once. On a lot of major social media sites today, you’ll be given an option to log in using your Facebook account. In some cases, doing this will publish your posts or updates on that service to your Facebook page as well.

For instance, I just told StumbleUpon that I liked a recent story in the Texas Observer. I have my StumbleUpon account linked to my Facebook account, and I have given SU permission to post the things I like on SU to my Facebook wall, so now my Facebook friends can see that I have shared the Observer story with them. This is a free service that lets you “ping” multiple social networking services at once with a single post or an update. Ping currently works with more than 30 services, including Twitter, Facebook (personal Facebook accounts and what used to be called Facebook “fan” pages), Delicious, Tumblr, WordPress and Blogger.

To use it, start by going to the site and registering for a free account. From there, pick the social media services you want Ping to be able to post to, and then you’ll be asked to enter your usernames/passwords for those accounts. (Important note: It’s possible to rig up these other services and later turn them off and on as desired.)

After it’s set up, you use it by going back to’s site and typing your update in the status box. When you update it, the message is pinged off to the other recipient sites and posts on your accounts there.

At Texas Watchdog, the nonprofit news site I work for in Houston, we use a great deal, though I usually post to it through the Twhirl Twitter client using a Ping app key. It allows our @TexasWatchdog tweets to go directly to our texaswatchdog account on Delicious (most of our tweets are about links to stories we think are cool), among other things.

For a time, we experimented with having send all of our tweets to our Facebook page wall, but that didn’t work for our purposes — when we began live-tweeting the local school board meetings, we found we were drowning our Facebook fans in status updates. We wound up disconnecting our Facebook page from Ping and using an alternative that I’ll talk more about in a minute. But Ping-to-Facebook might work very well for your purposes if you don’t firehose those tweets. (I’m currently using my it, and my own Ping app key, to post my @jpeebles tweets to my personal Facebook wall and to update my status on the Wired Journalists Ning, for instance.)

You can also set up your Ping account so that you can send out pings/tweets via SMS, or send out RSS feed blurbs or items you’re sharing on Google Reader.

HootSuite, Seesmic and the “social media dashboards”: These are services that integrate a Twitter client — often with tweets grouped into columns — with a Ping-like capability to send those same messages to Twitter and a slew of other social media services at once. Some of them also offer other services like contact management and analytics and useful helpers like built-in link shorteners.

I’m a HootSuite user, so I’ll focus on it. HootSuite has a couple of things going for it that doesn’t. For one thing, HootSuite gives you the capability to schedule your tweets in advance. That gives you the ability to space out your tweets over the course of a day or a week.

Once I caught on to HootSuite, I was able to stop sending out 18 tweets within an hour-long period each morning for all the cool stories that had popped up in my Google Reader overnight — instead, I could schedule those tweets ahead of time to space them out over a day so that our followers didn’t get deluged with @texaswatchdog tweets from us each morning.

HootSuite also gives you an easy method to pick which services you want each individual message to go out to. Just click the ones you want to broadcast that tweet on and hit the submit button — HootSuite’s process for this is much easier than’s method of turning services off and on.

When I’m using HootSuite to tweet as @texaswatchdog, I usually send out messages only to Twitter, but it gives me the option of also sending each message to our Facebook page as well — we do that only occassionally, but there are some times when it’s nice to have that option.

On the other hand, has some things going for it that HootSuite doesn’t. is totally free, as far as I can tell, and can work with dozens of services. HootSuite is mostly free, but you can only bring in up to five social media profiles under the free plan. To rig up more than that, you have to pay. Paid users can also have other “team members” posting to the same accounts, which might be handy if you have a slew of people in your office taking turns tweeting as @YourPublicationNameHere. (Just don’t let anything like this happen. Or this.)

Custom tabs on Facebook pages: Another method for bringing in material to your Facebook page followers is to use Facebook applications to create custom tabs on your Facebook page and funnel content from your other social media services on to those tabs.

For instance, we have all of our @texaswatchdog Twitter stream flowing onto a Twitter tab on our Facebook page thanks to a free app from the folks at Involver. You can find other FB apps that will create a Twitter tab, but some of them will want you to pay for it. Involver gives away some of its FB apps for free, and we’ve been very happy with using their tabs — our Facebook fans can still easily access our Twitter content regardless of whether they’re on Twitter or not, but the use of the tab means the tweets aren’t smothering our Facebook followers and cluttering up their FB news feeds. (For some more examples of people who successfully use Involver tabs on their Facebook page, check out the Texas Observer, which has a “blogs” tab that easily takes readers to any of several Observer blogs.) A second Involver-based tab brings our Facebook readers our recently liked content from YouTube, and in the past, we’ve used a custom tab for the Livestream service to also offer up our free monthly Webinar on open government.

Automatically import your site’s RSS feed into your Facebook page: Facebook has a built-in tools to do this — they’re free and pretty easy to use, and they can import the feed items to either the Wall or to FB Notes — but in my experience, Facebook’s tools are a bit flawed. I manage blogs and Facebook pages for a handful of journalism organizations I work with, and sometimes it can take three or four days for a new blog post to show up automatically on that group’s Facebook page. Other times, it may take only a few hours. I’m not sure what’s going on there, so I mention this with some hesitation. Instead, I would try some of the third-party Facebook apps that have been developed for this purpose, such as Social RSS or Involver’s free RSS app.

A word about the social bookmarking sites that basically offer link popularity contests, like Digg, Reddit, and, to some degree, StumbleUpon: It would be really efficient for us as journalists if there were a way to automate sending our fresh content to these sites, either through or some other conduit, but quite frankly, I have never figured out a way to do this. I’m not entirely sure it can be done — I really don’t think the people who run those sites, or the user communities on those sites, would want folks to be able to funnel even more potentially spam-driven or otherwise self-promoting content onto their screens.

I think they want to make it so that there’s some effort involved in submitting a link to their site, because that weeds out some of the people who aren’t serious about offering up good content. Granted, it doesn’t always work — maybe it’s just me, but for some reason, I always get what seems like an inordinate amount of “dugg” links for sites like when I’m searching for content on Digg. But certainly those communities don’t want to make it easier for MyAwesomeGutterRepair and MyAwesomeDrivewaySealing to post even more junk there. (But if you know of a way to make it easier to post to these sites, by all means, please share in the comments below.)

These aren’t the only ways to combine the elements of your social-media-posting routine. I know there are others I’m forgetting, and still others I’ve not even familiar with. So, how do you manage your social media?

Jennifer Peebles is deputy editor at Texas Watchdog, a nonprofit online-only news site based in Houston. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter at @jpeebles or @texaswatchdog.

Funnel photo by flickr user El Bibliomata, used under a Creative Commons license.

7 Social Media Tools for Journalists

Sree Sreenivasan is dean of student affairs at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, a social networking whiz, and an all-around cool guy. He recently stopped by The Boston Globe to talk to reporters and editors about the joys of Twitter and how to tweet efficiently and effectively. He showed us some handy Twitter-related tools that journos can use to locate sources, find story ideas, and get more people to check out your work. Here’s a quick sampling:

1.) HootSuite – web-based service allows you to track tweets, manage several Twitter accounts at the same time, and schedule when your tweets will be posted (so you can tweet into the future)

2.) Twiangulate – Find out who the people you follow are following. Great way to discover new sources.

3.) FriendorFollow – Find out who’s following you back (and who isn’t)

4.) Twitcam – Live video streaming. Looking forward to trying this – sounds really cool.

5.) Twitpic – I use this service. Easy way to share photos and images.

6.) – Find trending topics.

7.) – Search tweets by location. Another site worth checking out is Trendsmap, which lets you view trending topics in any location, in real-time.

For more tools and tips, check out Sree’s Social Media Tipsheet and his Twitter Guide for Newbies & Skeptics.

…and YO – a word to the wise!  As you probably know, there are zillions of Twitter apps, tools and services floating around out there, and new ones are being created every day. Many of them require that you type in your Twitter username and password to use them. So be careful! Don’t hand over your Twitter housekeys without doing some due diligence first.  Before you type in your Twitter account information and password into any website, make sure it has a solid rep and has been reviewed by some reliable media experts (like Sree, or the good folks here on SPJ’s Digital Media Committee 🙂


Emily “Spikey Em” Sweeney is a staff reporter at The Boston Globe. You can follow her on Twitter (@emilysweeney) and find her on LinkedIn, among other places.

Four steps to building successful live streaming service on your news site

Jeff Achen

Jeff Achen

By Jeff Achen

I used to work for a TV station. I was the editor of a weekly newspaper. Now, I’m living in both worlds. I’m an online editor and multimedia journalist.

Of all the tools that seem to bridge the gap between broadcast and print journalist, live streaming has to be the most revolutionary. Today, any one person, let alone any given news organization, can broadcast video live out over the internet using live streaming services such as or for the cost of a simple video camera, laptop and a few video cables and accessories.

The ubiquity of broadcasting power brings with it a lot of trash that clogs the Internet. This is where journalists have the opportunity, and I would argue the responsibility, to more contentiously and professionally harness the medium.

Here are a few considerations:

1) Set it up right. Ensure your brand, your logo and you organization’s live stream account looks good. allows you to upload a variety of logos to various positions like a 300×300 logo, 960×80 banner, and 300×250 promo image. Take the time to ensure these are uploaded and that your “channel” looks good. It will say a lot about the professionalism of your news service.

2) Thoughtfully consider how and what to live stream. Should you live stream your local school board meeting? Too boring? Already available on the school district’s web site? How about live streaming a public debate your newspaper is hosting for the next election? There you go. Not everything is ideal for live streaming. Consider what people would take the time to watch and how timely it is. If you purchase a wireless card you could conceivably live stream from any location with a camera and laptop. This could open up great possibilities for your news organization. Cover the downtown fire live on the web or an important press conference, all without the live satellite truck those TV stations rely on.

3) Market you live stream service. Getting the audience is perhaps the hardest part of adding live streaming to your web site. You need to find a place to embed your live stream player that people will be able to find. You also have to let them know that your web site is the place to view the event live. Most people won’t think to go to their local news site for this type of service. In the week leading up to the event, use every opportunity to let your web site visitors know what you’ve got planned for the live event coverage. Then follow through consistently to let build your audience. Let them know that this is a service they can consistently rely on to be there for important live event coverage.

4) Lastly, take full advantage of live stream host service options. allows you to loop your videos in a replay format so even though your stream isn’t live 24/7, the video of the last live event you covered is. And, make sure you approach live streaming with a “producers” mind set. Use Livestream’s graphics and titling to put up names and locations as needed during your live broadcast. Take advantage of the live chat function to engage with your audience during the live broadcast.

Live streaming is a new tool for news web sites. When used effectively and to its full potential, this service can revolutionize the way you cover your community. One truly remarkable web site that has taken full advantage of live streaming tools is This site is a citizen journalism web site that covers Minnesota politics through live video coverage. Imagine how your organization could do similar work.

Just remember, if approached half-heartedly, live stream services can flounder. Live streaming is about engagement. Consider carefully how it can enhance your coverage.

Jeff Achen is the multimedia producer and online editor for, a community newspaper web site in Minnesota. He is also a freelance photographer/videographer. You can follow him on or email


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