The Associated Press has purchased a minority stake in the mobile video platform Bambuser to enhance the agency's live-streaming and crowdsourcing capabilities.
The investment, announced today, comes after a year-long partnership between the two organisations that has seen Bambuser gain increasing use by journalists while the platform has investigated ways to integrate its technology with that of news outlets.
"As a news-gathering asset it's huge," said AP's director of global video news, Sandy MacIntyre, speaking to Journalism.co.uk.
The relationship will allow AP to "have a hand that helps steer" Bambuser as one of the companies at the "cutting edge and forefront of the UGC game", said MacIntyre, who will join Bambuser's board as a non-executive director.
He stressed the importance of the pre-existing technology and community around the platform as being a key part of the decision.
"Live is the new generation of UGC," he said, "and I think Bambuser, by getting ahead of that, has got some secret sauce."
AP will also be working to strengthen Bambuser's capabilities for professional journalists and news organisations by customising the technology and making it more private and secure.
"What Bambuser offer is the ability for any news organisation to put smartphones with Bambuser software into the hands of their own reporters and make them instant live reporters or instant live-video journalists around the scene of breaking news," said MacIntyre. "Or even, dependent on the technical threshold, around scheduled news."
MacIntyre said that, while this partnership would not be replacing more traditional forms of broadcast journalism, it could lower the threshold for entry and expand capabilities for the first journalists at the scene to report "before the cavalry arrives".
"We are part of the 'main stay' of broadcasters getting on air each day with breaking news in our traditional satellite products," he said, "but I think where we bring something to the party as well is that any content we're going put through Bambuser we put through fairly rigorous authentication and validation processes."
These validation processes, and the legal processes for the acquisition of rights to the material, have been tried and tested over the last year and bore fruit with the publication of footage in a series of high profile stories such as the siege of Homs, the Oklahoma tornado, the Russian meteor, the Boston marathon bombings and the London helicopter crash.
"There is a legal template and a frame behind it that shows exactly what rights people are signing up to," said MacIntyre, "it's very transparent and we've gone back to the original creators and we've asked all the questions clearly before we've put them on the air."
Hans Eriksson, executive chairman at Bambuser, said in a press release: “Working so closely with the AP over the last year has proven the huge demand for user-generated video content. This equity investment is an important milestone in Bambuser’s journey as it not only brings our two organizations closer, but enables us to share our expertise to an even greater extent.”
The announcement comes as Bambuser recently began the roll-out of a software development kit to allow partners to customise and integrate the platform's capabilities into existing iOS and Android consumer apps. Jonas Vig, chief executive of Bambuser, told Journalism.co.uk that the software development kit would be officially launched through the Bambuser website in the near future.
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