Peter Worthington has had an amazing life. And his obituary, which he wrote himself, certainly has an arresting opening line.
Students at the Centre for Journalism have staked their claim to what I believe is a small slice of UK television history (although I stand to be corrected) after successfully linking an on-location reporter into a TV news bulletin, armed only with a mobile phone. [Update: OK I do stand corrected. The BBC took live pictures from Mark Simpson's mobile phone for the Cumbria rail crash in '07 - although I don't think it was a two-way as such. And Jon Kay used a Nokia N90 for a live broadcast the year before, although BBC News Live editor Guy Pelham notes: "The quality was pretty lousy though..." Any more examples welcome.]
Using a Nokia N95 phone and the free online video streaming service at qik.com, reporter Lucy Ross-Millar was able to achieve a live link to studio presenter John Saunders as part of a news bulletin produced to coincide with the visit of the University of Kent's vice-chancellor to the centre. The bulletin itself was the first one ever to be produced by undergraduate students on the CfJ's convergent journalism degree course using the centre's new virtual studio. Having seen this US experiment, we thought we'd try something similar.
The full bulletin will be available shortly on the Showcase section of this site, but here I've just included the section that includes the live link.
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So how was this achieved? It was a very painful process. Despite initially encouraging tests early on in the planning stage, we found that it was impossible to get sufficiently consistent results with a 3G signal. The video stream constantly interrupted by buffering, and the delay between the live action and the signal into the studio was often well over a minute long - making it impossible to co-ordinate the link with the presenter.
Eventually the students moved to a location where they were able to hook up to a wireless broadband signal. Buffering improved, but still the delay was up to a minute. Only when the qik application settings were changed to downgrade the quality of the video (and full credit goes to second year Nick Poskitt for sorting the technical issues out) was the delay reduced to around four seconds - still tricky to co-ordinate, but just about possible.
The final result is about as far from broadcast quality sound and pictures as you can get - but in certain breaking news situations where you want someone on air immediately without having to wait for a satellite truck, the potential is obvious.
Remember where you saw it [almost] first.