While the 24/7 news channels were debating the tragedy in Dallas and talk radio was following its usual path in the tragedy’s aftermath, the new media was continuing to unfold before our very eyes. During the 11:00 hour Friday morning, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and liberal activist Van Jones engaged in a spirited, thought-provoking dialogue about Dallas and race, on Facebook-Live.
At the time I watched it, more than 2,000 people were looking in and the comment section had reached over 1,000. Of course, Facebook then keeps the video in its news rotation throughout the day. At last check on Friday night, there were more than 100,000 views, 3,700 comments and more than 2,000 shares. Those are numbers the newspaper industry – currently on life support – standard television and even talk radio could only hope to get, within their environment.
The cost for Gingrich and Jones – who come from opposite sides of the political spectrum – to engage in this Facebook-Live technology? The price of a smartphone. If they wanted to shell out another $30, they could purchase a dual lapel microphone, which plugs into an iPhone, a mini-tripod for the phone and a stand to hold the phone. With some proper lighting, just like that, they have a television studio and direct interaction with an audience, which demands such bi-play with this new technology.
It is no wonder traditional media is worried. The status quo is being challenged. Gingrich and Jones put on a discussion worthy of any forum, and they were able to conduct it at very little cost. One can only wonder what the media picture might be like just two years down the road.