Last week, Paul Gillin wrote a blog post called Lemmings with Microphones, where he questions’s the value of large-scale journalistic investment in covering both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. He argues that with the state of today’s communications technologies, 15,000 journalists spending $30 million are not needed to cover the event. Gillin, who has been chronicling the collapse of the newspaper industry since March 2007 in his Newspaper Deathwatch blog, questions the mass media’s use of their precious business resources.
The blog post got me to thinking about the changes in how live event coverage is changing in lieu of the digitalization of content and the socialization of networks responsible for distributing that content. Back in the 1960s & 1970s, coverage of a NASA rocket launch required expensive communications networks, thousands of people, and millions of dollars to deliver the event.
But no longer.
Today, the average person with a smartphone can broadcast remote video–live, for the cost of their data plans. Through services like Google+, they can broadcast live video for the cost of their monthly Internet access charge. By virtually eliminating the cost-to-broadcast-barrier, the power to tell your own story has been wrestled from the grips of the few and placed into the hands of many.
Take NASA for example. In 2012, they don’t need mass media to tell the full story of Curiosity. With the ability to broadcast live Martian images directly to anyone with Internet connectivity, they are no longer beholden to the limitations of prime-time, drive-time, or late-night television programming.
It’s time for companies to consider the communications technologies available and the stories that they want to tell through them. One of my favorite examples is Digikey’s Another Geek Moment videos. Digikey is one of the largest suppliers of electronic components. It’s using modern communications technologies to demonstrate products to the company’s highly technical audience. Another Geek Moment demonstrates the power that resides at the fingertips of every corporate storyteller.
For example, consider the following video of a rocket launch. It essentially delivers all of the content that the mass media did for the Apollo rocket launches with one main difference. Rather than requiring thousands of people and millions of dollars, it was created by two guys, a handful of off-the-shelf-parts, and a cell phone.
The video has everything: multiple camera angles, a “Cape Canaveral” (the launch site), and a “Mission Control” (the remote launch site). Check out Texas Instruments MSP430 Launchpad.