With the launch of Facebook Live, we have seen a number of organizations and individuals get on board the live streaming trend. Facebook Live provides the ability for anyone to lives stream video similar to Periscope and Meerkat, video-streaming platforms which allow for questions to be sent in real-time to the user created the video.
With Hurricane Season upon us here in Florida, we need to be sure to monitor the progress of storms and understand the potential impact of each named storm and even depressions. I had wanted to see how various news organizations cover weather conditions so I searched Facebook for various pages related to weather or news generally. Some of these included The Weather Channel, Florida Storms, NOAA, NOAA NWS National Hurricane Center, the New York Times, and CNN. The only three that actually used live streaming to cover weather were The Weather Channel, Florida Storms, and CNN.
These three organizations took a similar approach to live streaming. CNN was reporting live during Hurricane Hermine so the live stream took on more of a traditional live broadcast approach. The presenter, Mark, gave the current status of the situation and interviewed local kids. The Florida Storms channel really approached its live streaming as a different type of broadcast and did a great job approaching it as a different news forum. Both The Weather Channel and Florida Storms approached the live streaming as an ability to interact with online users.
You can view the live streams here:
https://www.facebook.com/FloridaStorms/videos (Videos for Hurricane Matthew)
https://www.facebook.com/TheWeatherChannel/videos/vb.118071565920/10154664668635921/?type=2&theater (Videos for Hurricane Matthew)
https://www.facebook.com/cnn/videos (Videos for Hurricane Hermine)
The value in live streaming weather forecasts related to storms is that it allows for users from all over to engage with the presenters and ask questions. This is critical because safety measures and understanding can mean life or death in such emergency situations. Where a topic can be complex and leave laymen with questions, live streaming is able to help so that these questions can be answered. There is also value in reporting live from a storm because it provides a real time picture of how people are being affected and what people are saying and thinking at the scene of the storm.
Techniques for Interacting
Florida Storms and The Weather Channel took questions from users while live streaming. This was likely an attainable technique because the presenters were situated in the newsroom. The Florida Storms live stream was very interactive, with presenters taking questions and actively forming their broadcast around questions and even doodling on the map to better illustrate answers to the questions they were receiving about Hurricane Matthew. The Weather Channel took questions and incorporated answers into their live streaming newscast of Hurricane Hermine. CNN did not utilize any comments for interacting, instead the presenter interacted with people in his immediate surroundings just as in a traditional live broadcast.
Suggestions for Improvement
I would suggest that CNN use comments for interacting with the viewing audience. It would add another level of interaction if users could have posed questions for Mark to ask the local children. Sometimes outsiders are better able to come up with interview questions because they are not in the moment of reporting. I do not have any suggestions for Florida Storms. I thought they the organization did a great job of live streaming.
Overall, each type of presentation has its own value and perspective. As someone who is interested in the path of the storm, I thought that the Florida Storms broadcast exhibited the most value. However, I think that there are many users who will greatly enjoy the CNN broadcast live from the storm as people like to see live action and what is truly going on and affecting people. It is important to note that these live streams featured different storms so it is possible that each channel might use live stream to show the path and projections of the storm as well as live coverage as Hurricane Matthew gets closer to making landfall here in the US.