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Livestreaming video is great for TV news!

The TV guys have problems, but free content isn’t one of them.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

TV news is in trouble. But not because of live video on Twitter or Facebook — that stuff is good for TV news.

If you think otherwise, as Farhad Manjoo posits today in the New York Times, it’s because you don’t understand the point of TV news: It’s not to bring you news, but to talk about news that’s already happened.

Sometimes TV news still pretends otherwise, which is why it uses tropes like “live interview with reporter standing in front of thing where news happened earlier.”

But generally TV news doesn’t even bother: Its bread and butter is people talking at a desk, and often arguing, about ... something. This is why Donald Trump has been such a special thing for TV news execs — he’s like a super-sized mysterious missing plane/poop cruise, except he’s lasted a full year and is still going.

This is a very efficient model for content generation, which is why you also hear it all the time on talk radio, or see it on the internet. (Meta hot take!) But livestreaming video doesn’t change the equation for TV: It just gives TV more stuff to talk about.

And by the way: If that video is posted on Facebook, or Twitter, or someplace anyone can get it? For free? Even better.

The TV guys are very happy to take the footage of a murder you uploaded, or your livestream of your own arrest, or that jaw-dropping photo of the plane on the Hudson. More, please!

This article originally appeared on

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