The call is coming from inside the house

Laylan SaadaldinLaylan Saadaldin
  28 April 2017

Sharing the space debris story

Reality is increasingly happening LIVE for your viewing pleasure. Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, and a host of other social media platforms allow anyone to broadcast in real time, prompting heated debate on what this all means for responsible, informed journalism that was once the purview of print.

We won’t go too far down this rabbit hole, just far enough to acknowledge that livestreaming is not a fad. Users made the jump from printed text to digital text, then from text to image, and now from text and image to video. They are gobbling up digital video at an accelerating pace, and anyone hoping to disseminate information needs to meet this demand.

The statistics might traditionally have consumer brands and millennials in mind, but the same applies to B2Bs, non-profits, science institutes and governmental organisations in many sectors. In other words, got something to share? Get livestreaming.

A case in point is last week’s Space Debris conference. The European Space Agency hosted the 7th European Conference on space debris, much more than just another tedious tech conference on something spacey. The event – held at ESA’s ESOC Establishment in Darmstadt, Germany – was Europe’s largest-ever on the pressing topic of uncontrolled space debris growth and attracted some of the world’s top space debris experts.

While many local and regional media responded to the Call for Press, and attended on site, many more – especially from overseas – could not. Therefore, during the four-day conference, ESA web, social media and video streaming channels took on prime importance.

“Content production during this week was a classic example of how web text, social media updates and especially streaming video can work together to create an information flow that meets the needs of media, partner organisations and regular citizens,” said EJR-Quartz’s Daniel Scuka, the senior editor for spacecraft operations at ESOC.

Along with supporting media at or calling into ESOC and publication scheduling, Daniel and his team worked in the weeks leading up to the conference to set up webcasts. But they didn’t go full-on webcast, choosing instead to stream the most relevant sessions to a wider audience – the opening and closing segments. Livestreaming the conference’s closing press briefing was a particular success.

Speakers from the German federal government and senior leaders of ESA as well as experts from multiple European space agencies were able to interact with viewers watching from all around the world. Followers were asked to use the dedicated #askESA hashtag to pose questions. These were analysed by the EJR-Quartz team working in close collaboration in Italy and the Netherlands, and then were fed back into the stream and to the moderator on stage, for inclusion as questions live in the webcast.

Following the webcast, many more questions from journalists and interested citizens were answered via Twitter by Daniel and the space-debris experts on site, and others were relayed by mail to the appropriate experts.

“Our content provided news in real time, and met the needs of journalists who could not be present,” said Daniel. “Our online communication work was demanding, but it was ultimately very satisfying to know that our efforts helped spread the news about one of the most critical space flight challenges facing us today.”