The Hangout feature in Google Plus is taking journalism to a whole new interactive realm, putting “U” in the news.
“A Hangout is essentially a free satellite truck attached to a crowd sourcing tool within the Google Plus social network,” said Sarah Hill, interactive news anchor for KOMU-TV.
Social media has given reporters the opportunity to interact with their audience. Live Twitter feeds and Facebook posts let reporters gain feedback and in return the audience feels a sense of personal connectivity to the news.
Hill has taken this concept of interaction to a new level by incorporating Google hangouts into the news broadcasts. Hill hosts U_News, an interactive news segment that uses hangouts to put “U” in today’s news conversations.
“You get to connect with people face to face and that is a far superior kind of interaction compared to any text based Twitter or Facebook post,” Hill said. “With Hangouts, they are in the same room.”
U_News is the very first news program to use the Hangout feature in Google+, but this trend is catching on quickly in the world of reporting.
Recently, President Barack Obama used a Hangout to interact with citizens. President Obama was able to address direct questions that people had about the economy and concerns about lack of job opportunities.
This is a prime example that shows the potential Hangouts have to evolve the world of journalism. Hangouts have the unique ability to make people feel connected with the news on an individual basis while reporting to a mass audience.
“In the future, I think you’ll see Hangouts have a prominent role in mobile journalism as instead of live tweeting from the scene of a breaking news event, reporters can live hang or viewers can live hang,” Hill said. “Hangouts enable the ability for viewers to go live with us in mass.”
Newscasts like U_News are showing the value and advantages that Hangouts can bring to journalism. The ability to interact with people while breaking news is happening is going to redefine what is means to report the news. With the ability to reach sources with the touch of a fingertip, information and resources will be abundant for journalists.
“You have the ability to expand the reach of your station as far as the Internet will take you,” Hill said.
As Hangouts start to blaze through the trails of journalism, I can only wonder if/when they will be taught in the classroom. The class Multimedia Journalism, or J2150, requires students to tweet; so will journalism students one day be required to “hangout”?