When you cover it all — from severe weather to council meetings to fire rescue — how do you engage an audience while sharing breaking news? Live-streaming may be the answer.
Michelle Li and the WECT newsroom in Wilmington, North Carolina, are using Bambuser to live stream reports from the newsroom and the field, using laptops with webcams and the Bambuser mobile application. We caught up with Li to hear more about how Bambuser works in action.
The WECT newsroom began using Bambuser earlier this year. Li experimented with other platforms but chose Bambuser because of its mobile capabilities. “It was easy to get the app, it was easy to use, and it was easy to use in replacement of the live shot,” she said. “If we had bad weather, for instance, we could go live from our cell phones.” The Bambuser mobile app is available widely across platforms including Apple, Android, Bada, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and more. In September, Bambuser released updated apps which offered solutions for mobile bandwidth constraints.
“We try to use Bambuser everyday,” Li said. She enables a news conversation via user comments and feedback during the live-streaming reports. While some broadcasts inevitably garner questions about day to day happenings in the newsroom, many stories attract dozens of comments from viewers.
What type of content works best for live-streaming?
Li tries to think of national and international stories that people will talk about, but the platform works well for hyper-local coverage, too. During severe weather, Li will broadcast live and relay questions that are coming in to the newsroom from Twitter and other social media sites. Community-oriented and helpful topics like saving on electric bills, for instance, or Friday reports on upcoming weekend events, all make great live stream topics as they directly reach viewers and open the door for comments and questions.
Ever wonder what news anchors are talking about when not on camera? The WECT newsroom live streams before and during nightly news broadcasts, which adds transparency and humor to the news process. See some sample videos on Li’s Bambuser profile.
Live-streaming to both complement existing coverage and to stand alone.
Recently in the region, a controversial county commissioner held an impromptu news conference. While the newsroom could not dedicate air time to covering the entire event, Li was able to get to the scene and use just a laptop to live-stream the entire event on Bambuser. “The laptop was angled poorly,” Li said, “but the information was still there.” 600 people viewed the event live, and over 1700 people viewed it at a later time. In this case, live-streaming with Bambuser served as a stand-alone way to cover an event that traditional news-gathering means could not. Here’s the coverage.
On using a laptop versus the mobile app to stream live, it depends on where reporters can get an Internet connection and how stable the shot is going to be, Li said. But that flexibility lends itself well to covering breaking news, especially in situations where you can’t take bulky recording equipment. Li’s colleague, Ashlea Kosikowski, uses the mobile app from the field to cover events like police standoffs, or, one time, when a man was stuck in a sink hole.
Get started with your own live-stream.
To get started, sign up for a Bambuser account. If you are on a laptop, plug in your webcam or DV camera, and start recording. Follow the start-up guide for more help. If you are using mobile, download and install the app, login with your username and password, and start streaming.
What makes for a good live stream? User interest is key, but engagement is important, too. Most videos from WECT garner about 20 live followers on average, with more viewers overall. If it’s a planned event, adding links and promoting the event on social media and other sites can help reach viewers. Time of day may matter, too. WECT is planning to add a Bambuser live stream of a later news program, when more people will be at home and available to join the conversation. You can set a shelf-live for specific videos, or you can keep them public so viewers can catch up after a live event.
Photo from Flickr user tomsun.