NBC News today said it acquired Stringwire, a user-generated video service that adds at least the latest wrinkle into the news gathering business by streamlining the way a news purveyor—in this, case NBC—can easily harvest cell phone videos of breaking news events.
According to the network, “For breaking news and stories that have a real-time visual component, Stringwire's services provide the ability to recruit and direct contributors based on geographical location through Twitter, and to instantly access live footage.”
People who tweet a message when they happen to find themselves at a news scene will receive a Twitter message from NBC asking them to click on a special NBC link and then keep shooting. That video will be streamed directly to NBC, eliminating a step or two before it can be widely shared with NBC’s audience, though, the submissions will be checked before they are distributed. (This is the theoretical world, certainly. Meaning no slur toward NBC, but in the heat of a news event, some of the rules tend to get glided over a bit.)
“Wherever you see a swarm of eyewitnesses on Twitter, that’s the sweet spot for Stringwire,” said Vivian Schiller, NBC News senior vice president and chief digital officer, to the The New York Times, which advanced the announcement.
is the impressive brainchild of Phil Groman has just graduated from New York University, and the Times story suggests, it’s hard to tell if NBC, who hired Groman at the same time, is more
excited by the application or by what other inventive things Groman brings to the party. Groman first implemented Stringwire to capture user generated videos from Hurricane Sandy and Kenyan
election. He’ll join NBC News as Product Lead, based out of the network’s digital group in San Francisco.
The Times said Groman is a graduate of NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), and Stringwire was spawned by Groman’s thesis.
Things like Stringwire, and the whole general idea of picking up user generated content of news events, suggests that the idea of having lots of reporters might be replaced by having lots of editors, who piece together the best in-coming video and make on-the-fly decisions about what to present to a larger audience, wherever that audience happens to congeal. Maybe that’s already happened to a large extent. We’re a world of eyewitnesses, and now the news business just exists to organize us a little bit.