IMA has livestreamed since its inception, based on a belief that public events like protests, direct actions, public meetings, and town halls deserve to be documented in their entirety. The public deserves to be able to see what was there, as completely as a camera can capture it, and make their own decisions about what something means. Recording live ensures both our audience and our subjects that what they do and say is recorded as they did it–not edited later.
Livestreaming is also an important part of the historical record. Because IMA covers events and stories that are often ignored by larger outlets, our livestreams are often the only permanent historical documentation of an event.
Note to the Community
If you see a cell phone camera, please assume we are live. Barring technical mishaps or prearranged agreements with subjects, we always record live rather than recording and uploading later.
Please note that it is not possible to edit or cut part of a livestream recording without unpublishing it (see Unpublishing Policy).
As of May 2022, all IMA citizen journalists livestreaming on our platform will wear both a press badge and a visual marker that says “live.” However, even if you do not immediately see the “live” identifier, please note that the presence of a cell phone camera likely means we are live.
If you are an organizer of an event and did not intend for the event to be open to media or having a camera out would cause harm, please approach the citizen journalist (behind the camera) and let them know. Citizen journalists are expected to use the best practices listed below to make recording decisions, and this includes sensitivity to organizers’ insights.
Please note that government meetings must be open to media unless formally noticed as closed meetings. Barring a citizen journalist from a public meeting can result in legal action. Please note that it is not legal to ban someone, including a citizen journalist, from a public space.
Responsibility of Livestream Citizen Journalists
While we respect the unique approaches and creativity of all our journalists, there are a few guidelines we require in order to comply with the law, journalistic ethics, and a respect for consent. We expect all livestreamers to adhere to the following guidelines:
Do due diligence to ensure livestreams center on those most impacted by an issue. Please see Reale Justice Network’s advice to media organizers here: https://www.facebook.com/Realejustice00/posts/2078597525613325
Identify yourself as press and as a live recorder. At minimum, this means a press badge and some identifier on your person or equipment that says “live”. The “live” identifier should be a minimum of 24 point font, and should be clearly visible from the front. Please contact an IMA managing editor if you are in need of a badge or a “live” identifier.
Contextualize the event–give the name, who is organizing (if you know), what the topic is, when and where it is. Look for those most impacted by the event, and ask them to share their why.
If the livestream will not take place in a public place or you think participants may have a reasonable expectation of privacy, ask an organizer before going live.
Balance your duty to the public (the public’s right to know, etc.) with your duty to your subjects. If you know or suspect live recording will cause more harm than public knowledge would prevent, do not livestream. Consider an alternative form of reporting, such as notetaking for a written article or recording for a podcast.
Note that in the case of events covering public officials, meetings, and servants, the public’s right to know–to have transparent, uncut access to the goings on of their institutions, public officials, and tax dollars–takes priority.
Differentiate fact from opinion. This includes a disclaimer in your caption (“views are those of speakers”) and caution when summarizing events or interviews. Citizen journalists should only present as fact that which has been verified as fact. It is often only verifiably factual to say, “So-and-so said X,” rather than “X is true.”