LIVE (Streaming): Hurricane Updates

With the launch of Facebook Live, we have seen a number of organizations and individuals get on board the live streaming trend. Facebook Live provides the ability for anyone to lives stream video similar to Periscope and Meerkat, video-streaming platforms which allow for questions to be sent in real-time to the user created the video.

With Hurricane Season upon us here in Florida, we need to be sure to monitor the progress of storms and understand the potential impact of each named storm and even depressions. I had wanted to see how various news organizations cover weather conditions so I searched Facebook for various pages related to weather or news generally. Some of these included The Weather Channel, Florida Storms, NOAA, NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center, the New York Times, and CNN. The only three that actually used live streaming to cover weather were The Weather Channel, Florida Storms, and CNN.

Approach

These three organizations took a similar approach to live streaming. CNN was reporting live during Hurricane Hermine so the live stream took on more of a traditional live broadcast approach. The presenter, Mark, gave the current status of the situation and interviewed local kids. The Florida Storms channel really approached its live streaming as a different type of broadcast and did a great job approaching it as a different news forum. Both The Weather Channel and Florida Storms approached the live streaming as an ability to interact with online users.

You can view the live streams here:

https://www.facebook.com/FloridaStorms/videos (Videos for Hurricane Matthew)

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https://www.facebook.com/TheWeatherChannel/videos/vb.118071565920/10154664668635921/?type=2&theater (Videos for Hurricane Matthew)

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https://www.facebook.com/cnn/videos  (Videos for Hurricane Hermine)

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Value

The value in live streaming weather forecasts related to storms is that it allows for users from all over to engage with the presenters and ask questions. This is critical because safety measures and understanding can mean life or death in such emergency situations. Where a topic can be complex and leave laymen with questions, live streaming is able to help so that these questions can be answered. There is also value in reporting live from a storm because it provides a real time picture of how people are being affected and what people are saying and thinking at the scene of the storm.

Techniques for Interacting

Florida Storms and The Weather Channel took questions from users while live streaming. This was likely an attainable technique because the presenters were situated in the newsroom. The Florida Storms live stream was very interactive, with presenters taking questions and actively forming their broadcast around questions and even doodling on the map to better illustrate answers to the questions they were receiving about Hurricane Matthew. The Weather Channel took questions and incorporated answers into their live streaming newscast of Hurricane Hermine. CNN did not utilize any comments for interacting, instead the presenter interacted with people in his immediate surroundings just as in a traditional live broadcast.

Suggestions for Improvement

I would suggest that CNN use comments for interacting with the viewing audience. It would add another level of interaction if users could have posed questions for Mark to ask the local children. Sometimes outsiders are better able to come up with interview questions because they are not in the moment of reporting. I do not have any suggestions for Florida Storms. I thought they the organization did a great job of live streaming.

Thoughts

Overall, each type of presentation has its own value and perspective. As someone who is interested in the path of the storm, I thought that the Florida Storms broadcast exhibited the most value. However, I think that there are many users who will greatly enjoy the CNN broadcast live from the storm as people like to see live action and what is truly going on and affecting people. It is important to note that these live streams featured different storms so it is possible that each channel might use live stream to show the path and projections of the storm as well as live coverage as Hurricane Matthew gets closer to making landfall here in the US.

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Google It. Every Time.

Have you ever needed to verify something and turned to the Internet? Did you turn to Google? I bet you did! Google has become a behemoth of a resource for all of us, from citizens to journalists and even government officials. We all Google all the time.

Simply put: Google has singlehandedly transformed the way we collect and verify information.

Google has figured out how to utilize its wealth of tools to verify and provide information that can best illustrate the world around us. We use Google’s search engine to look for universal results yielding all kind of data.

Whether looking to verify a business or person, you might not realize that by searching for that name you are utilizing features of Google+. As Neil Walker says in this article, when someone verifies their information on the Google+ platform “the result is potential social interaction with your audience on a local scale as well as the side benefit of potentially appearing in the local listings within the Universal search results as well as on maps and even the carousel.

Google Earth is one of my favorite tools to use every day. I just love being able to see what the world around me looks like and the distance in between places. However, Google Earth is especially useful for journalists because it allows them to verify whether or not images and videos are in fact from a particular place and event. The way that this is done is through visiting the area on Google Earth and looking for topographical elements such as buildings (especially landmarks), signs, structures, and geographic elements like mountains or rivers. Here is a video tutorial on using Google Earth like a pro, check it out!

italianquakeAn example of using Google Earth for photo verification purposes can be found in one of my previous blog posts on an Italian earthquake. Here, there are before and after images of the town of Amatrice.

Step 1: Locate Amatrice Italy

Step 2: Locate area of clock tower

Step 3: Identify architectural elements

Step 4: Compare images

If you look at the images like this one above, you can see that the local landmarks such as the clock tower are no longer standing but that the elements surrounding where it should have been still match.

Photo verified.

Thanks again, Google!