It’s been a revelation. And the worst thing they could have ever brought out.
Facebook Live has changed the way the media can report news.
It’s been making headlines a lot over recent months after a 74-year-old man was murdered live on Facebook.
But it does a lot of good too. It means people on their coffee break can watch a breaking story unfold in front of them, filmed not just by journalists, but people on the ground.
I watched fighting in Marseille as England fans were attacked during the Euros last year. The story hadn’t been picked up by the mainstream media, but as my brother was sat in a bar in France he told me what was happening. I could then watch, live, as mayhem broke out at Old Port.
From a news perspective, it’s a great challenge. I’ve called the police press office on many occasions asking for information on incidents that were currently taking place. They had no idea it was even happening until I sent them a link to the live video, filmed by our newspaper colleagues in Sheffield.
It means we get information very quickly, and if we’re at a scene, we can share that information with thousands of people instantly. It’s like news flashes onto people’s timelines as a story unfolds.
But what’s next for the platform?
Shaky vertical mobile phone footage, filmed too far away to see anything, should be left in 2017.
We work with our regional TV colleagues, BBC Look North (Yorkshire) on multi-camera Facebook Lives. And they look amazing.
Graphics, high quality sound, and numerous angles makes it look like we meant to do it. This costs a lot of money though. Camera operators, satellite trucks, and a gallery aren’t cheap. Sometimes a phone has to do.
But the audience loved it. And with enough planning, we can share kit and staff with the 18:30 TV bulletin.
I’m spending my week off looking at how we can do something similar, just on a much, much smaller budget.
How do we use a camera instead of a phone to broadcast? Do mobile hotspots deliver enough speed to make the quality watchable? Are we just Facebook Live-ing something that’s just rubbish?
The short answer is that a phone is always in our pockets. Setting a laptop up, with software to load, cameras to plug in, and mobile hotspots to connect is just too complicated. Too bulky. And far too unpredictable.
Film something exciting and people will flock. Even if it’s not the best quality.