Live-streams transform media coverage of police shootings

Alexander Clark leads a group of around 4,000 protesters in chants of “no justice, no peace” and “prosecute the police” outside the governor’s residence on July 7, 2016, following Philando Cas- tile’s death. Clark has been a steady pres- ence in the Black Lives Matter movement since his cousin Jamar Clark was killed by police in November of 2015. PHOTO BY EVAN FROST / MINNESOTA PUBLIC RA- DIO NEWS. © 2016 MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO®. USED WITH PERMISSION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

News coverage of violence against African-Americans during police operations might turn into a routine if not for the emergence of new tools keeping journalists on their toes. Take the killing of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, which unfolded before the eyes of thousands of Facebook users while his fiancée Diamond Reynolds live-streamed it to the world. Tragedy, politics and protests converged, and within hours, over a million people had watched Castile’s white T-shirt turn blood red. The live format set the pace for reporters to follow, adding a new dimension to a story they thought they knew how to tell.

Live video, formerly exclusive to television, is now at everyone’s fingertips. Any outlet can broadcast every protest, press conference and traffic jam, using only a smartphone. While news analysis, in-depth reporting and narrative storytelling are present and thriving, an audience’s desire for what’s happening right now must be met, and anyone can fill that need. 

Police remove the flowers from a protester’s hand before putting her in handcuffs outside the governor’s resi- dence in St. Paul, Minnesota, on Tuesday, July 26, 2016. PHOTO BY EVAN FROST / MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO NEWS. © 2016 MINNESOTA PUBLIC RADIO®. USED WITH PERMISSION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Evan Frost was a multimedia editor at MJR and the Montana Kaimin before he joined Minnesota Public Radio News as an associate photojournalist in 2016. Don’t ask how he puts photos on the radio; it’s a magical recipe.