Online video is the new newsroom. Citizen journalists are recording video of breaking news events with smart phones, Flip cameras, and Canon 5D's. They're uploading video in near real-time to platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, and using social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook to spread the word. And before too long, this process will make dinosaurs out of the traditional television news industry.
By viewing a nice cross-section of these user-created news videos, we can end up with a much more well-rounded and balanced look at a major world event, and we can typically do this in much faster time than it takes the traditional TV news team to put a broadcast together.
This week saw a massive sand storm hit Arizona. Such storms are apparently pretty common in that part of the country, but are typically nowhere near as big as this one was. And with an event as unusual and frightening as that, you can guarantee the amateur camera operators were out in force.
Like Vimeo user Mike Olbinski, who used the afformentioned Canon 5D to create a time-lapse video of the storm moving in on Phoenix. It looks like something out of one of the Mummy movies:
That video has been viewed about 400,000 times in 24 hours. That's pretty impressive.
Because these storms move so much slower than the average person might think, time-lapse was the filming style of choice for most of the Arizona Sand Storm citizen journalists. Like this fellow, who used a hand-held GoPro camera while driving into the heart of the storm. Notice how ridiculously dark it gets once he's inside the sand:
Over 100,000 views on that one.
Another YouTube time-lapse clip of the storm rolling in, this one with over 80,000 views:
Handheld cameras–this one is probably a mobile device–were also put to good journalistic use by the Arizonians:
And of course, even some traditional news outlets see their coverage get viral attention immediately after a major world news event, like this clip from RussiaToday (which is an English-language news organization), which has over 300,000 views:
No single source but online video can provide this kind of well-rounded coverage. Instead they typically have one or two camera angles, or they borrow a better one from a partner news outfit. Only by combining the real-time video offerings of amateurs, professionals, and video hobbyists can we really begin to experience an event like this vicariously.
When world news breaks, particularly when it is of the rare-event variety like this one, you can bet that videographers big and small will do everything in their power to document and share their perspective on the event. For the viewer, online video ushers in a golden age of news, providing us with unprecedented amount of coverage, and the a freedom like we've never known to personalize the way we get the news.
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