Periscope proves worth in riots


Footage by Paul Lewis on Periscope of burning buildings during the Baltimore riots.

The Baltimore riots have proven that Periscope, an app launched in March that allows live video broadcasts from mobile, may be here to stay as a journalistic tool.

The Guardian’s Washington correspondent Paul Lewis made use of the app as he witnessed the riots following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, interviewing bystanders and producing powerful footage of breaking news that has engaged thousands.

In one of his first feeds, he spoke with a local resident in front of a looted corner store and a bystander threatened to beat him if he didn’t stop recording. Live comments erupted when his feed stopped for several minutes, reflecting the dialogue that the app also allows.  Comments and hearts – representing likes – flowed as each of his clips streamed.

Some issues have been raised with Periscope, including the verification of facts and the privacy of its subjects. The app also does not currently provide comment moderation, with Lewis warning his viewers to refrain from making offensive comments or the footage would be pulled.

An Instagram shot of Baltimore police. Photo: Paul Lewis

An Instagram shot of Baltimore police. Photo: Paul Lewis

Other journalists including Baltimore Sun reporter Colin Campbell , Telegraph’s Raf Sanchez, ABC7’s Jay Korff and  D.C. Fox News 5’s Alexandra Limon also took to the streets with Periscope to capture the scenes as they happened, highlighting the impact of new levels of immediacy.

News Corp Australia’s Mark Drasutis told The Newspaper Works the app had strong potential for engaging audiences in new ways, and mobile marketer Rob Marston of Zeus Unwired has also canvassed its potential for commercial partnerships – read more about the potential of Periscope here.

For more news from The Newspaper Works, click here.

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