Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Hey Google, we want an embed code for the hangout!

Some colleagues of mine at The Trentonian, a JRC paper in New Jersey, used another cool Google tool to help them cover the election last night.
Editor Joey Kulkin, staffer Joe D'Aquila and reporter Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman teamed up to use the Google hangout to get live interviews with candidates, concluding with an interview of the winning mayoral candidate.
I caught up with them earlier this week when they were testing it.
Because Google does not currently provide an embed code for its hang outs, D'Aquila and "tech guy" Ryan Boyle used a screen capture feature through Ustream, which gave them the live feed used on their website.
Pretty awesome.
I talked with my coworker, politics reporter Charlie Crumm, about potential uses in our own office.
"Is this something I could teach an 70-year-old politician to use?" he asked me.
I think so. It all depends on the individual, but knowing the politician he had in mind — one that at least is aware of the impact applications like Twitter and Facebook have — I do think it's possible.
It's super easy to join Google+, if you haven't already, and from there, starting or joining a hangout is a click of a button. As long as you have a webcam, you're ready to rock n'roll.
You can see in the embedded video file below that The Trentonian had a reporter on the scene to do the interview with the politicians.
At The Oakland Press, we're also thinking about ways we can use this when we can't physically get to the interviewee.
Something like this could also be used in conjunction with a live chat so that viewers could feed questions they have directly to the reporter, who can ask and get the interviewee to respond in real time.
I love Google.
But really, Google could make this a whole lot easier on us by just providing an embed code for the hangout. So, come on, Google. At least consider it.
Hats off to The Trentonian team for innovating a new way to use yet another cool Google tool for journalism!

The Trentonian's livestream using Google+ hangout
Video streaming by Ustream  Here are some additional notes from D'Aquila on the set up:
We found some soda crates in the room and used them to prop up a web cam in front of my laptop’s screen. The camera was hooked to a desktop we lugged into the conference room. I started the google hangout then positioned the camera to grab what I wanted. We used an audio patch cord that I just happened to have (one I use to hook an ipod to a portable boombox) and we used that to feed the audio from the laptop to the desktop-speaker jack-to mic jack. I then set up a third computer, a notebook, to use as a monitor to watch what viewers on our Web site would see and listened with a headset.
He also said: "Google has created something called 'Hangout On Air' which can be embedded, but they haven’t made it available to everyone yet. Soon, hopefully. It will be a very useful interview tool once they do."

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