Your journalism students can livestream, too

About a couple of weeks before graduation, I mentioned to the newspaper’s tech page editor that we should livestream the graduation ceremony. I don’t teach broadcast but my newspaper students do produce news videos and a man-on-the street segment for our news website.

So my students do have some video skills. We don’t have any expensive cameras, high-tech editing equipment or lots of bandwith. But we do have smartphones and a couple of new free apps to choose from. All I had to do is purchase a handle to attach my iPhone to the tripod. Total cost for livestreaming? Under $20.

Back in March at the Southern California Journalism Education Association write-offs, we saw an impressive presentation by John Shrader, an assistant professor in the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, at California State Long Beach. He gave a live demonstration of Meerkat. He also mentioned Periscope as an alternative app. A few days later, I mentioned to our tech page editor that she should have someone write about these two apps because they allow anyone to do livestream for free.

As my student learned more about these apps, she noticed that more journalists were using Periscope. So we talked about the possibility of livestreaming some events on campus. We are a 400-student school so we don’t have many opportunities for live-streaming, but there are a few throughout the year.

When the idea of livestreaming graduation came up, my student quickly set up an account for the newspaper. She and one of our reporters who knows how to shoot video did some demonstrations in the newsroom to practice using Periscope. To improve audio, they added a shotgun microphone to my phone and attached it to the tripod.

We promoted the live-steam a few days before graduation and set up our settings so that the video can be saved on the phone. Yes, all 92-minutes of the footage.

The following day, we uploaded the video to iMovie (you need to rotate the video once it’s on iMovie so the footage won’t be sideways), added a title page and credits and uploaded to Vimeo then to our news website. Now parents, friends and relatives can watch several speeches, listen to the choir sing and  watch each student receive their diploma.

During the livesteam, we had 145 views. Since the video was uploaded, it’s been viewed 70 times. We’re a small school – graduating class was 108 students – so our hits are rarely in the hundreds.

Livestreaming using Periscope was very easy. And I know my newspaper staff will want to livestream again. I hope you and your journalism students give it a try, too.