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Guest Column: Facebook Live- An effective new tool for news, views and opinion sharing: BV Rao, Editor, Firstpost.com

04-April-2017
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Guest Column: Facebook Live-  An effective new tool for news, views and opinion sharing: BV Rao, Editor, Firstpost.com

As news browsing becomes a high-infidelity, click-chasing experience, several digital media services have embraced Facebook Live as a narrative tool. This has served the purpose, for the most part, of allowing news websites to not just cover communities but actually reach out and touch them with a two-way conversation.

When it came to live news reporting, it seemed slightly challenging for news channels to bring everything ‘live’ for its viewers until the subject matter was of national importance. Covering anything and everything live not only involves a lot of effort and manpower, but also needs the right kind of technological backing and support. In such a scenario, Facebook Live has become a convenient tool for digital platforms to implement live news reporting on a wider scale, which is not only effective but is also capable of giving real time information to viewers from anywhere and everywhere.

This is what an early Facebook Live success looked like: BuzzFeed staffers dressed in hazmat suits wrapping rubberbands around a watermelon until the seeds, the pink stuff inside and the audience numbers exploded. 

Think of that watermelon as the news industry, we journalists are those flying seeds.

Now, we’re all on Facebook Live and Twitter’s live app, getting 1000 views on a livecast has never been easier. But just views, minus the engagement of sharing and comments and time spent, is low yield journalism. 

Facebook Live has certainly cracked the code to making money off its community’s content, it’s for us publishers to figure how to consistently deliver great moments to our users on live video and not use it as a side gig.

That Facebook post with a few hundred shares can now come from the last man standing with a smartphone and a story to tell. Facebook Live is has just rammed it home that 2017 will be the year of user generated content like never before. 

By swallowing news publishing whole, Facebook has ensured that newsrooms are relying more on stories that the public deems newsworthy when figuring out where to push camera crews and reporters. 

With its global case study, Firstpost was given a place among eight digital global publishers who found outsize success on the world’s most influential news platform. And this isn't an attempt for the website to appear conceited - it offers an example of how additional tools are helping to enhance our news-reporting abilities. 

Using Facebook Live API and Livestream technology, Firstpost became India’s first pure play digital newsroom to broadcast the 5-state election results live for four hours non-stop in May. Anchor, studio guests, expert analysts from six locations, live ticker, election trends, results, video story packages, scheduled commercial breaks, pre, post and mid-rolls, promos - just like a full-fledged news channel.

The growing trend of digital content consumption

In times to come, I foresee a significant growth in viewers consuming live content digitally and the team is ready for that future. We have been at the forefront of digital innovation, from being India’s first digital-only newsroom to becoming the only Indian example in a case study on global publishers who have found great success with Facebook Live. Today our audience is on multiple platforms and Facebook Live allows us to reach them where it most suits them.

As journalists, how our stories travel in the information ecosystem must matter deeply to us. To report and curate what is true is the first part, the harder piece is to help that story travel where it must, avoiding the wash of fake news. 

That’s the true potential of Facebook Live in 2017 - you can’t fake it here.

(The author is Editor, Firstpost.com)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com.

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