Paul Lewis – The Periscope Pioneer

In Journalism by UFSocial Staff

by Wendy Kirkwood, UFSocial Contributor

Social media is used to share news reports as well as a home for conversations about breaking stories, but it’s also used in many more intricate ways.

Reporters are using social media to crowd source and get direct feedback about their stories, find sources and first hand accounts as well as expert witnesses. They are also using social media as evidence in the stories that they are creating which is really interesting as a viewer.

Stories are not just breaking on social media, social media is often ground zero where news is taking place – it’s not just the tool it’s like the arena.

I decided to look to Periscope, Twitter’s newest asset that reporters are flocking to in droves since it’s introduction, and maybe it’s biggest advocate – Washington Correspondent for The Guardian, Paul Lewis. Many major news stories have been reported from the app and Lewis is at the forefront of this new way of social media reporting.

 Paul Lewis on Periscope covering a fire near a church in Baltimore


Paul Lewis on Periscope covering a fire near a church in Baltimore

Paul Lewis was on the scene in Baltimore when riots broke out in late April following the death of Freddie Gray after being taken in to police custody. This was the first major news story that happened after the introduction of Periscope in March, and it gave Lewis the opportunity to not just use social media to reach his audience – but it also gave him the chance to show what was happening in such detail and receive immediate feedback from his audience through comments.

The journalist actually used his audience’s questions in interviews with Baltimore citizens as they were being posted to the app. By getting direct feedback from his audience he was able to tailor his questions and even whom he was speaking to on the streets to what his audience was reacting to. He also was able to answer questions himself that Periscope viewers were asking.

Because Lewis was using Periscope he was able to freely and quickly move from the west side of the city, where the majority of the violence was taking place, all the way over to the east side – grabbing interviews from witnesses on the streets as he passed by. He would not have had access to such a large group of people with a giant camera crew, and honestly people may not have responded in the same way to a reporter jumping out of a news truck. To the people on the street he was just like the rest of them, trying to make sense of the events taking place and giving the most personal coverage possible with nothing but a camera phone.

I really recommend watching this video recap of what Paul Lewis was able to capture via Periscope, he gave a platform to the real voice of the community- something that could absolutely not be done with traditional media coverage or even the first generation of social media platforms.

I am excited to see what Paul Lewis brings to journalism and reporting using Periscope in the future. Baltimore really showcased what talented reporters like him are capable of with live streaming video and the instant feedback that allows reporters to react to.

About the Author

Wendy Kirkwood is social media manager at The CRUSH Agency. She graduated with a master’s specializing in social media from the University of Florida in 2015.

About the Author

UFSocial Staff