New apps helpful but threaten professionals

Jared Rogers-Martin

Like shadows on the cave wall, the age of social media wants to illuminate the true reality of other people’s lives. 
 
Periscope and Meerkat — the two latest social media apps dueling for your attention — both let you post a link to Twitter that allows Internet-goers to watch life through the lens of the app users’ cellphone camera. 
 
With capabilities that allow suspicious significant others to make sure a lover’s sights stay true to watching a live sports game, someone will keep the camera rolling in nearly any situation. 
 
America is fascinated with the mundane reality it cannot see, and these new social media apps titillate our fetish for capturing, commenting and liking the real lives of our friends and followers. 
 
But what is at the center of this fascination? Do we intend to abolish loneliness, or are we simply interested in the most instant news possible at any 
scale? 
 
Welcome the new age of instant journalism. Lawyers, get out your aspirin — this one might cause an intellectual property migraine.
 
The ability to quickly share live coverage of any event through Periscope and Meerkat will only narrow the divides between public relations, journalists and social
media users. In addition to individual privacy concerns, it seems that private businesses are also suddenly concerned about becoming too public. 
 
Copyright laws restrict the rebroadcasting of content, and companies have to enforce who has access to their events. The NCAA prohibits credential-holding journalists from live-blogging sports events because of rebroadcasting rights, but the logistics of enforcing those same restrictions on the casual sports fan with a camera and a live stream are another issue entirely.
 
In panels at academic conferences, authors now ask bloggers and journalists to refrain from posting about their research. The journals “Science” and “Nature” have both created “embargo policies” on content and will refuse to publish research if they do not get the chance to release it themselves. These journals sometimes specifically ask scientists to avoid discussion with members of the press aside from official presentations at a convention.
 
For professional reasons, journalists and stake-holding bloggers are bound by ethical standards to keep their Twitter thumbs tied, but these restrictions do not prevent civilians from live-streaming the whole shebang. Live streams, Twitter updates or blog posts could jeopardize the current standing of a researcher’s right to publish within a journal. 
 
Journalism is far more than simply being the one to break news. However, these current restrictions hold back the reporting capabilities of both casual users and journalists alike. Strategically speaking, companies should look to update their restrictive measures to take advantage of new innovative technologies instead of stifling them with a palm to the camera lens.