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Cable Technology Feature Article

August 13, 2013

NBC News Makes Twitter Video an Official Newsgathering Tool with Stringwire Acquisition

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Stringers are a time-worn aspect of creating global news coverage, particularly in times of war and turmoil. From the journalists who deployed written dispatches from the frontlines of the Civil War via horse messenger to the teletype-dependent AP stringers of the Vietnam War, the eyes on the ground have played a critical role in recording world events. Looking at leveraging the next generation of stringers, NBC News has now acquired Stringwire, a specialist in gathering eyewitness user-generated video content, and has hired its founder Phil Groman.

Stringwire was developed by Groman as a service for news organizations to harness the eye-on-the-street aspect of modern newsgathering. As was proven in coverage of everything from the Arab Spring to the riots in Turkey to Hurricane Sandy, eyewitnesses uploading mobile video and pictures to Twitter (News - Alert) and other social feeds provides an invaluable real-time view of events as they unfold, in a way that traditional news teams cannot replicate. 

Image via Shutterstock

With an eye to that reality, Stringwire provides the ability to recruit and direct contributors based on geographical location through Twitter, and to instantly access live footage. It will let NBC News leverage a network of verified contributors with connected mobile devices capable of streaming video across the globe for breaking news and stories that have a real-time visual component.

Aside from Groman’s use of Stringwire during Hurricane Sandy and the Kenyan elections, NBC News will be the first media organization to use the technology for live event coverage.

Groman joins NBC News as product lead and will be based out of the NBC News Digital Group’s San Francisco office.

“Stringwire is at the leading edge of user-generated video products, with immediate value to our on-air and digital businesses. Long-term, we think there is great commercial potential,” said Vivian Schiller, senior vice president and chief digital officer at NBC News. “Phil is an incredibly talented developer and inventor who will bring a wealth of innovative and entrepreneurial experience to the NBC News Digital Group.”

Groman is a graduate of New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), where he specialized in the design and production of mobile experiences. Stringwire was built out of Groman’s Master’s thesis. Prior to ITP, he spent two years in South Africa and Kenya as a designer and innovator at Afroes, a mobile development studio building applications for campaigning and education.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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