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The news industry keeps changing as it tries to meet readers/viewers where they are. The dedication to delivering facts and important stories hasn't changed (except maybe on cable news), but the delivery method continues to diversify. And that's okay. Technology changes, business models shift and you've got the circle of life. The latest frontier . . . is streaming.

You can't say we aren't changing here at Arkansas' Newspaper. We've got podcasts now, both in Little Rock and Fayetteville. And we're gradually moving the statewide edition over to iPads and other digital delivery to keep giving readers the same news and opinions they've relied on for two centuries.

Live video has always seemed like more of a television thing, but more newspapers are starting to dabble. And thanks to social media sites, it's easier than ever to dabble in live video. While reporters have been using Facebook Live for a couple years now with varying degrees of success, The Washington Post is trying a different website, one typically not associated with news.

The video streaming website is called Twitch, as in that thing your right eye does when you hear a cover of an Eagles song on the radio. When it first launched, Twitch was mainly used for people playing video games to show others how they were ... playing video games. No accounting for taste or youth.

So how does a site used mainly for video game streaming translate to news? Well, Twitch is evolving. It has millions of eyeballs around the world, and people are starting to figure out what they can offer those eyeballs (and make some advertising dollars why they're at it). The Washington Post is one newspaper that's taken the step, offering live streams from reporters to break down complex topics like the Mueller Report or a new piece of legislation being debated in Congress.

By going to where these new eyeballs are, the newspaper grows its audience. Let's say Jon logs onto Twitch to see the latest gamers streaming themselves playing Tetris. (Yes, people actually still play it.) He watches a few games before seeing that The Washington Post is live, explaining the continuing privatization of space travel and relationships between NASA and corporations like SpaceX.

That's actually a pretty interesting topic he's been curious about, so Jon clicks on The Washington Post's video. And he watches for the next hour while reporters bring in employees of NASA and SpaceX and interview them on the future of space economics. Impressed, Jon makes it a point to "favorite" the channel so he can watch future videos from the paper. He may even visit the paper's website, find more amazing stories, and order a subscription. Stranger things have happened.

Newspapers see Twitch as a viable bridge to a younger audience where they can easily set up their own video streams with ads. Especially if they think it has a shot at producing more subscribers.

It's all part of evolution in the news industry. Who knows what else they'll come up with next?

Bill Buckley once said conservatives stand astride the world yelling Stop! But somehow it never does. All this new technology might make some of us apprehensive at first. Then again, we were nervous the first time we got behind the steering wheel of a car, too.

Onward!

Editorial on 06/18/2019

Print Headline: A new frontier

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