Livestreaming disasters on the rise


Social media has brought an immediacy to news; with just a few clicks, everyone, everywhere, can not only know what's going on, but see it too.

It's been brought to the forefront with the growing popularity of livestreaming apps such as Periscope, Facebook Live, YouTube Live and even Twitter Live.

On Thursday (local time), snipers opened fire on police at an anti-violence rally in Dallas, Texas. Twelve were shot - three died at the scene, another two as the night wore on.

Within minutes, the world was watching, horrified and enraptured.

Many people at the scene were able to share what they were seeing immediately.

"I walked outside to watch a few minutes and thought the rally was going to finish peacefully," says Dallas resident Gregarro Ivinalititavitch.

A football coach, Mr Ivinalititavitch lives near the carparking garage where one suspect holed himself up in, sparking a stand-off that lasted for more than five hours.

Armed with an iPhone 6S and the Periscope app, the 40-year-old provided updates with a stream that attracted nearly 350,000 people worldwide.

"Once I heard there were shots fired, I opened my window and began streaming," he tells Newshub.

"I knew there would be a large interest. I then heard that several officers were shot, and I knew more viewers would want to see what was happening."

So close to where police were exchanging gunfire and negotiated with an armed man, Mr Ivinalititavitch says he got nervous when he heard snipers were involved, as he was standing in front of an open window to film.

"After an hour or so when I heard several of the officers had died, I began to realise how real it all was," he says.

As the stand-off continued, Mr Ivinalititavitch continued to stream and provide updates, drawing and labelling locations on the video where key events occurred and how the night proceeded.

He was concerned the suspect could be watching, however, and made an effort not to show the police operations going on at the building the gunman was thought to be in.

Despite his coverage of the shooting, Mr Ivinalititavitch admits he never really considered becoming a journalist.

"I think it's a very difficult career and oftentimes a thankless job. The media often gets criticised from many angles when a story breaks - good and bad."

But on Periscope, Mr Ivinalititavitch was willing to provide coverage as long as there were people there to watch it.

It was past 3am when the stream finally cut out - and that was because of technical issues, not because he was tired.

"There were good things and bad things said in the chat by some of the viewers," he says.

"I wanted them to be able to continue to share some of their feelings."

With the pressure and drive news organisations face to be first to break stories, the growth of 'social media reporters' has caused a spike in how quickly the world can find out and get involved with devastating events such as the Dallas shooting.

"From a victim of violence or from someone covering the aftermath of violence - it seems to not matter where the information comes from, as long as they get something first," Mr Ivinalititavitch says.