The human satellite truck

Visionary network news photographer Jim Long is gleefully putting himself out of business. Well, actually, he’s expanding his own business, for network executives should be plugging into his brain. But he’s reducing the need for that gigantic camera he lugs all over the world. While in Africa traipsing after George Bush and company, Jim turned on his mobile phone and hooked it into and broadcast Sir Bob Geldof speaking. No big camera. No satellite uplink. No editing into packages. No b-roll. Just the news now.

But this is more than just broadcasting live from anywhere — that’s important enough. It’s also interactive: we can ask the correspondent to ask the subject questions: live lets us in on the conversation.

I’ve also been playing with Flixwagon, a Qik competitor that powered MTV’s Super Tuesday mobile coverage, and it’s dead easy: one click and you’re broadcasting. This is hugely changing.

: Also note from my friends at the Guardian that one of the paper’s still photographers won a Royal Television Society award for best international news. Repeat that: a newspaper photographer wins a TV award. TV’s not TV anymore.

(Disclosure: I write for the Guardian and consult for them and, also an award-winner at the RTS.)

  • You know I love this stuff — and I’m a huge fan and Twitter follower of Jim. But when you say things like “putting himself out of business,” it reinforces the idea that there’s a zero-sum game taking place in which some ‘new’ does away with something ‘old.’

    Your post leaves out the rather important fact that NBC is spending tens of thousands of dollars for Jim to ‘traipse all over Africa.’ So while I agree with how cool it is that he is constantly hacking new tools, I don’t think he’s doing anything that will put himself out of “business.” Indeed, it should be NBC’s hopes (as he’s doing all this on their dime) that Jim is, by experimenting with new tools and approaches like this, ensuring that he (and they) can stay in business.

    Also, in some ways, this video proves how good it is to see things edited and distributed via bigger pipes.

    Again, I think this is incredibly cool.

  • Actually, I was wrong in that previous comment. You DID say what I suggested you didn’t say. You just lost me on that ‘putting himself out of business’ phrase.

  • I like that these technologies are being experimented with and can be used but can you imagine the sucess of having many, many interested people wanting to, as you wrote, “ask the correspondent to ask the subject questions”.

    I think if it were sucessful it could get very overwhelming to the point of pointless very quickly.

    Also, I have little personal desire (in my free time) to follow in a live fashion the normal daily events that interest me.(Live Breaking News excluded)

    Let’s say I like sports, presidential politics and news about Britney Spears(not really). I couldn’t justify the time in my day to watch even one of those things LIVE as they unfold.

    I’d be much happier to allow many proffesionals to gather and diseminate the best of the best to me during the short period that I can devote to looking at the things I want information about on a daily basis.

    I may be biased since as a TV Photojournalist I get to witness many events live as they happen.

    That’s still not to say there may not be a market for this technology. I’d like to be on the working end of it just for kicks.

  • So, got a favorite between Qik and Flixwagon yet? The audio seems improved on Qik since I last looked, and I do like its automatic connections to Twitter and Mogulus.

    Jim Long is definitely evolving at Lamarckian pace in the media world, and his unique case provides a couple of points for consideration. First, these Symbian handsets with live video streaming will certainly change the way news is gathered and distributed, but it still really, really helps to have some position of authority — such as an NBC newsman with the credentials back it up — in order to get direct access to the story in the first place, which a scrappy amateur with a fancy cellphone and nothing more, may not get.

    And the second point is about the information supersaturation that new technology can bring about, but in Jim’s case it comes a step before the video got turned on. Obviously people might be more likely to watch his Qik channel than some nobody’s in Bismarck, because they know he is usually near newsmakers. But I had no idea he was streaming this interesting stuff until you blogged about it because I finally had to stop following @newmediajim on Twitter; his regular-as-clockwork morning tweets of “Morning Twitterland!” “Having coffee while my girl eats breakfast,” and “Time to get this girl to school, tweet ya later!” became part of the daily detritus that I had to prune in order to keep a handle on my Twitter torrent. Now I don’t want to tell other people what they should do with their Twitters, but there might be a lesson in there about at least using informative #hashtags or something that I might be able to subscribe to so I we can get useful news while filtering out some of the daily drudgery.

  • Jeff first and foremost, thanks for the shout-out! I kind of like that “Visionary network news cameraman” description. ;-) You’ll find that emblazoned somwehere on my blog. I have to point out though, that I’m not the one gleefully putting myself out of business. That task has been undertaken with earnest by TV executives everywhere, who think technology is a substitute for people.

    Like you, I think the most amazing, and most important component of platforms like Qik is interactivity. The coolest part, to me, of the Geldof interview is when my Texas Twitter bud Mike Neumann’s question popped up on the screen. It was haltingly unscripted as I interrupted my colleague and Geldof to ask Mike’s question. Geldof didn’t miss a beat and actually referred to Neumann by name. Incidentally, Geldof was pretty fascinated with Qik and Twitter.

    It’s important to note that ALL of this took place just a few feet from the US TV Pool transmission workspace, where racks of routers, monitors, RTS panels, and decks churned out two satellite paths of pool and unilateral materials from all five networks. All of which had been shot with professional cameras with 20x lenses.

    Where i think this technology wins is in giving big media a chance to speak with rather than speak at.

  • I don’t watch much TV, but I do watch New Media Jim via qik and his blog. This is so much more in depth and interesting than what I find on TV. Jim definitely gets great access to newsworthy people and events via his job, and kudos to him for making the most of it.

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  • I think Jim Long is great !

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  • Jim Long is fantastic. Thanks for the share!

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