2012 was a big year for live video interaction — we got to broadcast our hangouts to the world (thanks Google!) and HuffPost Live debuted. Both have done a brilliant job of showing the potential of video interaction, but uptake among news organizations is mixed and the ease of use still needs to be perfected.
My prediction is that 2013 will be the year that live video interaction with the news becomes de rigeur. By the end of 2013, if you’re a news website that isn’t offering users the chance to watch live video debates and interact in realtime, you’ll be missing out. Readers don’t want to, well, read a debate, or bother typing when they can simply face their webcam or iPhone and go. They’ll want to interact live, face-to-face with each other, and with newsmakers.
Chatroulette is so 2009 — video conversations and debates have grown up, and they’re about to become smarter, more informative, and more selective. Unlike 24-hour news networks who are forced to broadcast live around the clock, online news organizations have the luxury of picking their moments (look to The New York Times’ election night coverage). Over the past year at The Globe and Mail, we’ve had everyone from top politicians to genetic experts participate in live reader Q&As and debates. There are plenty of problems with the technology, but it’s incredible how far it’s come in a short time. It won’t be long now before any foreign correspondent can report live breaking news and interact with readers in realtime.
News organizations have always struggled with how to offer readers meaningful ways to become more than readers — to become part of the live debate, to contribute, to connect. 2013 is going to be a watershed year for turning readers into something much more.