News outlets are increasingly looking at the best ways to find and use citizen journalism content, with some using third-party platforms and others building their own, to source material from those closest to the action.
For example, it has been more than a year since the Associated Press announced an agreement with live video app Bambuser, in a move which meant users of Bambuser could make their footage available to the newswire and AP was provided with an additional live video resource in return.
But platforms like Bambuser are not only useful tools for citizen journalists. It is equally useful for professional reporters who may find themselves in a position to capture events in real-time and have their smartphone to hand.
In light of this opportunity, AP is now equipping its own staff with a Bambuser premium account to enable them to send live video footage to the newsroom. This follows a move by AP to transfer its journalists onto iPhones if they are not already using the device.
Vice-president of global video Sandy MacIntyre told Journalism.co.uk that Bambuser is "a great first strike reporting tool to put into the hands of AP's own journalists who might turn up first at the scene of a breaking news story".
Once the video is with the team at AP it can be delivered to those clients who use AP's live feeds. There is also the option for clients who use video clips instead of live feeds to receive edited versions of the footage, he said.
The newswire tested out how its journalists could use the Bambuser technology with "a handful of early adopters", and has since "trained about 150 text and photo journalists how to shoot video", Sandy added.
"In most cases the people who have the iPhone Bambuser app were either trained as part of that group or were given some basic training on how to point and shoot which is effectively what we're asking people to do here."
He added that the rolling out of the app among certain members of staff was to "expand it beyond the video journalists into a wider group of people".
Just last week, an explosion in Prague, saw the technology put into action by cross-format news director for east-central Europe Ian Phillips, who was using it for the first time.
"We had a TV crew out that day filming just as the explosion went off so we ran there, got first on the scene and took some really wonderful video, but the normal way, with a proper professional camera," he said. "But Bambuser basically allowed me to offer something different".
Using the app on his smartphone he captured footage such as the police sending cars back and the confusion caused for tourists trying to access local hotels.It just gives us an extra weapon in terms of how to go about thisIan Phillips, Associated Press
Following his first-hand experience of using the live video technology, Phillips said "it just gives us an extra weapon in terms of how to go about this".
"There are limitations to what you can do for sure. I would imagine that with technology that will change.
"You are pointing a smartphone and moving it around, you can't zoom, you can't do a lot of things that you might like to do, the audio isn't as good as you would like, but that will change in time I'm sure."
The experience also highlighted other aspects to consider when working with live video, such as whether or not to narrate. For example, there were times the London newsroom contacted Phillips to ask for more detail on what the footage he was capturing was actually showing. In such cases, Phillips added, the technology enables the journalist to type details about what they are filming, or they can simply give more information in audio form.
"I think what we'll all do on the basis of this is just practice more with it. And next time something big happens here, who knows when that will be, we'll be more attune to all the potential it has."
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