The New Media Epidemic

This being the “new media” era and all, the Democratic Convention is replete with camera-toting journalists (I tote two) running around the conventional hall like shutterbugs at a rare animal exhibit.

Fortunately, selfie sticks — a modern scourge whose time appears to be waning — have been banned from the secure convention zone. Whether the reason is security or practicality isn’t known, but the ban is useless thanks to Facebook’s newest push: Facebook Live.

The advertising company and sometimes social network has been pushing (read: paying) content producers (née news organizations) to change their pixel orientation from words to video. Everybody loves video, and the statistics do not lie.

Which is why everyone is jumping to adopt Facebook’s new platform, especially at such a newsworthy event like the political conventions. In an effort to be helpful(?), Facebook itself has set up numerous Facebook Live studio outposts, sending out armies of helpful pushers to hand out how-to guides to unsuspecting journalists trying to file stories in their spartan media workspaces.

Mind if I Facebook Live you Facebook Living me?

Mind if I Facebook Live you Facebook Living me?

Given the recent changes in Facebook’s algorithm, the how-to guides are more of a demand letter: come embrace our video-centric future or get left out in the engagement-free cold. One can still pay Facebook to promote stories or content, but the theory is that if one successfully produces free content for Facebook through Live on one’s page, an increase in engagement will hopefully(!) drive more users to their actual website, where they can make money through ads or subscriptions.

Whether the content is any good doesn’t matter much to Facebook, since they get free content, engagement, and, ad impressions.

Remote television setups still have their place, this being a convention, but an increasing number of agile and savvy companies have been rigging smartphones and tablets to tripods and high quality microphones instead. Even the major networks are getting on board, giving cub reporters and producers an opportunity to get their moment in the sun.

Less wealthy content producers (I meant to say journalists, I swear!) are forced to lock their arms and hold out their phones raised at an angle, turning their two main appendages into… meaty selfie sticks.

On the face of it, people who engage in Facebooking Live look utterly ridiculous, like they’re taking an extended selife but with deleterious effects.

Navigating the already narrow hallways of the Wells Fargo Center becomes much more difficult the second Jerry Springer emerges from the arena, or another B-list celebrity (of which there are many) emerges from a roped off room and into the populace. Live in seconds, herds of human selfie sticks flock like moths to a flame.

The convention floor is considerably worse, since not only does one already have to dodge long telephoto lenses, security details, and traditional TV cameras… but now the locked-arm organic selfie sticks, which easily and quickly swing 360º to get that absolutely perfect angle of, say, Rear Admiral John Hutson giving his remarks or Lenny Kravitz reliving the 1990s.

The future is awesome, isn’t it?

Sadly, this doesn’t end with our bad media: it doesn’t end. Facebook Live is not just for the media set, it’s for everyone. If Pokemon weren’t bad enough already, many delegates or volunteers under the age of 35 with a phone and some free time are sharing their experience with their world of friends.

It doesn’t matter if you have four friends or four thousand: Facebook Live is by you, for you, but brought to you by Facebook and their advertisers.

Stream away, just not near me.

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