In this article, I plan to share with you some of my less technical but hopefully more “timeless” thinking based on my experiences in using Google+ Hangout On Air (G+ HOA) and what I’ve seen other broadcasters used G+ HOA since Google launched this powerful feature in September 2011.
1) LIVE On Location
G+ HOA used on location on the streets of Montreal, Canada. Many would agree that the 2012 Quebec students lead protests, in hindsight, played an important role in bringing down the Quebec government. Former KOMU news anchor Sarah Hill helped a freelancer named Jean Francois Desmarais of Canada to bring live and unfiltered street protest images to the world.
My thoughts: Breaking news, live on location reporting can now be done extremely “light weight” by anyone without affiliations with any news organization. Broadcasters used to be the only ones to have the power to decide the how, who, what, when, where, and why of live reporting. G+ HOA and other live streaming tools have now given everyone that power if they choose to exercise it.
Broadcasters now risk becoming irrelevant if they ignore the citizens’ abilities to break news using G+ HOAs and other technologies and then distribute the YouTube Live video links via Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, etc.
2) LIVE One-on-One Interview
It is not easy to find an intersex individual in Calgary to interview on camera to shine light on this sensitive topic. So it was my pleasure to get to know the Netherlands based Maya Posch for some months before an an opportunity presented itself and I took the initiative to interview Maya to talk about her court case.
In the following video I had the pleasure to conduct a social media interview with Royal Canadian Mounted Police Ontario expert Jean Turner-Floyd to learn more about police use of social media.
My thoughts: Similar to old-school journalism, we have to slowly and methodically build our network of contacts and experts over months and years, and when the opportunities present themselves, G+ HOA turn out to be great too to broadcast and capture these insightful interviews. I used the G+ community to help me to gather the needed information in a prompt and efficient manner and then used the G+ HOA to broadcast and record the interviews.
3) LIVE One-on-One Discussion
The consumption of shark fins and how the fins are “fished” (sometimes via the brutal method of shark finning) have become a global issue in recent years. Highlighted by a recent series of photos and shocking AFP video “Outrage over Hong Kong’s ‘shark fin rooftop'”. Last Friday (Jan 4th, 2013), I took the initiative to arrange a live discussion with Calgary anti-shark fin ban group spokesman Richard Poon. I wore two hats in the discussion, on top of trying hard to be a fair an independent reporter and allowing Mr. Poon to present his points, I also spoke as a Chinese Calgarian that is distressed by my fellow Calgarians’ anti-shark-fin-ban actions.
My thoughts: First of all, old school journalism (connection & persistent) got me to take initiative to arrange a discussion with Mr. Poon. And instead of a private discussion or interview over the phone, I got Mr. Poon to agree to discuss with me LIVE in a public G+ HOA as I promised an uncut video of the full chat. The discussion can then become part of an informed discussion for the public to fact check and better understand the issues.
4) The “60 Minutes” of Google+ Hangout On Air
Before Don Hewitt created 60 Minutes in 1968, a show that “pioneered many of the most important investigative journalism procedures and techniques“, who would have thought such a show is possible, will be watched, and even made good money for the creator and broadcaster all at the same time??!! Note that I’m using “60 Minutes” as an example of something brand new and unseen before instead of its pioneering role in investigative journalism.
It is way too early to say what “shows” can become the “60 Minutes” of this Google+ Hangout On Air space yet but I have a few personal favourites. Maria Quiban‘s Fox LA G+ HOA and Melissa Carlson‘s KRNV News 4 Forum are two very engaging HOA shows that I am a frequent participant because I’ve a great time participating and watching. Instead of trying to explain in words, allow me to show.
4A) Here are three sample clips from Maria‘s Fox LA G+ HOA.
Melissa Carlson’s Jan 7th, 2013 News 4 Forum where the topic is about Connecticut town holding a drive to collect and burn violent video games. We were asked: “Does it remind you of the old book burnings? Do you have a problem with it?“
4B) Here are three sample clips from Melissa‘s KRNV News 4 Forum
Melissa Carlson’s Jan 4th, 2013 News 4 Forum where the two topics were discussed.
NEWS 4 FORUM TOPIC: Good lesson or Bad parenting? Are we raising a YouTube generation?
5) Concluding Thoughts
I think we are still at the dawn of Google+ Hangout On Air and the likes of “60 Minutes” of G+ HOA has not been discovered by the general public yet. But that time will come.
“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” – William Gibson
I consider myself one of the lucky ones who has a glimpse of the future by “chance”. Lets revisit the quote I started this post with.
“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” – Leonardo da Vinci
My Advice: Go apply it! What are you waiting? Go do it!
Special Thanks: I haven’t gone through formal j-school training so I feel uneasy in giving advices to professional/aspiring journalists. But when my talented and charming friend Marissa Schwartz, producer at KRNV News 4 (NBC) who is finishing up her Masters at Reynolds School of Journalism, asked me to share some Google+ Hangout On Air tips/advices for her Masters project, I have no choice and gladly said yes. I just hope you are not harmed by my ramblings or as my friend put it, “my brand of poison“.