It’s All Journalism: Periscope Curious? We Got Your Back

It’s All Journalism is a weekly conversation about the changing state of the media and the future of journalism.

With new digital tools coming out seemingly every day, radio reporter Neal Augenstein does his best to make the most of all the tools at his disposal.

A digital reporter for Washington, D.C. station WTOP, Augenstein is an early adopter of iPhone apps from Voddio, which allows a user to edit video footage captured by smartphone, to Katch, which uploads and permanently saves footage shot and disseminated via Periscope and Twitter.

Released last March, Periscope has become a mainstay in his storytelling arsenal. Much like Meerkat, Periscope is a smartphone app that allows users to shoot video from their phones and allow followers to watch events unfold in real time.

“What was different about this was this was being tailored to mobile phones,” Augenstein said. “This was tailored to quickly get a broadcast going that could easily be shared with whoever was watching,” allowing reporters to utilize an app that might’ve been created for the general public but adding nuance and layers to their coverage of the news.

Periscope might have the edge on Meerkat, however, as it’s owned by Twitter, and alerts for any new scopes are automatically sent out via Twitter to a user’s followers.

“It’s a very flexible and handy way to get your story out there,” Augenstein said. “By using social media and using Periscope, you draw in your potential audience,” not just to the short live-to-Periscope broadcast but, ideally, to the reporter’s media outlet or personal website.

Some advice for new users: Think about where you want the story to live, and for how long, before starting a new stream.

“As the reporter, while I want to cover stuff live, I also have to think in terms of, is this going to live on my website, is it going to live on the radio station for a longer time? One of the challenges of Periscope is you can’t embed it directly into a company’s website.”

It’s possible for a larger organization, like WTOP, to retweet his Periscope alert, which might further draw readers or listeners deeper into the website for more detailed coverage.

It’s worth considering whether the Periscope being streamed is one that should live on longer than the 24 hours the recording is saved by the app. The user should also consider whether a Periscope is the best use of recording capabilities.

“Is this a story that can only be told live? Is this a story I should shoot on my built-in camera on my iPhone and send the best 30 seconds of it using Twitter video? Should I just be recording audio?”

Augenstein recently worked with the CBS series 48 Hours for a season-opening story on the disappearance and murder of University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. Additionally, he was asked to record a five-part podcast detailing the case to be released in the days leading up to the show’s premiere.

“It really did harken back to old-time radio,” he said, adding that he made several trips to Charlottesville, Virginia, to record some “natural sounds” to add to the podcasts, making them more “evocative” and richer.

“All we’re doing is telling stories,” he said. “The iPhone is just a tool for telling stories. You have to have the ability and the vision to be able to tell a story creatively.”