Meerkat and Periscope; Does it Mean Anything for Journalism?

Periscope, Twitter’s in-house version of Meerkat was launched last week. Reviews suggest that (perhaps unsurprisingly) Periscope, which has been a year in the making, has the edge over Meerkat which was built in 8 weeks. Setting aside all the comparisons between the two products, what does all this ‘Live Mobile Immersion’ mean for journalism?

Supporters of the concept, are very excited. Scott Belsky, writing on Medium considers how ‘Periscope moments’ might change the way we view the world.

‘We joked that Periscope was akin to teleportation, a technology and user experience that lets you be anywhere and witness anything. This became a lot more serious when I witnessed a major fire in San Francisco, a child’s first steps, and a man’s cancer treatment’.

Josh Stearns also shared some hopes about how apps like these might become a tool for recording social injustices.

‘As such, there is a real opportunity for apps like Periscope and Meerkat to help people understand their right to record. I would love to see a partnership between these apps and an organization like WITNESS to create in app notifications, guides and best practices for safe and secure citizen journalism and eye witness recording’.

Alex Hern at the Guardian is a little more sceptical, and forsee’s a lot of sharing of stuff that is simply boring to most viewers.

‘What Periscope does excel at is sharing events happening around you. But for most people, most of the time, those events are dull. It’s not yet clear how Periscope will square that circle. One possibility is that it will become the app that sits, mostly unused, on home screens until that one day when a user happens to be in the right place at the right time to live stream something interesting. Another is that Periscope hones its private broadcast functionality to the extent that it becomes its main use. After all, what’s boring to a stranger might be fascinating to a loved one or close friend’.


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