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See It Now: Video Solves Mystery of Lost Slides and a Life

By David Schonauer   Wednesday July 20, 2016


The implications of live streaming can only be imagined at this point.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has latched onto live streaming as the future of social-media platforms. The power of live streaming became evident recently, after Diamond Reynolds used Facebook Live to broadcast the last breaths of her boyfriend, Philando Castile, a black man who had just been shot by police in Minnesota. The video staggered America and help set off protests and violence in US cities, while a number of media observers questioned  whether there should be limits to what can be broadcast.

In any case, noted the New York Times, recently, as live streaming matures cable news has “much to fear.” The Times compared Reynold’s live stream of Castile’s death to the breaking-news coverage of the 1991 Gulf War that established CNN as a major player in broadcast journalism.

As major news organization jump onto the live-streaming bandwagon, we can certainly expect to see new kinds of visual storytelling take shape. The story behind a remarkable video from the New York Times shows how live-streaming journalism is evolving before our eyes.

The story began last May, when the New York Times's Deborah Acosta, who had only recently been reassigned to the Times' Facebook Live team,spotted a number of Kodachrome slides scattered on the sidewalk at the corner of 43 Street and 11th Avenue in NYC. Sensing  there might be a story behind them, she began filming herself picking them up. She thought the slides might make for an interesting Facebook Live broadcast, and she emailed the footage to her editor, Louisa Story.


Acosta’s instincts proved to be correct. As Poynter  reports, the Times’s Facebook Live team was just beginning to come up with storytelling ideas. One category that has developed since Acosta picked up that first slide is live interactive reporting.

"Doing really effective live interactive journalism is quick and it is somewhat open to chance," says Story, "but good planning does make a difference.”

Acosta first went live with the slides on May 15. Three days later, notes Poynter, she and Times' photographer Todd Heisler went live to talk about the images in the slides. Later sleuthing turned up someone who could tell the story behind the images — a story that led back to another journalist, Mariana Gosnell, who died in 2012. The entire tale is related in the video, Fragments of a Life: A Curbside Mystery.

“Stylistically, this really has its own feel, in part because we were trying to keep the tone of live in this throughout,” Story tells Poynter, adding that every installment of the project had significant viewership. She adds that successful live-streaming stories are the ones that journalists are passionate about.

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