VJO chats to… Broadcast Magazine’s Michael Rosser

Michael Rosser (Courtesy of BroadcastNow.co.uk)

By Toby Coaker

This week VJO spoke to Michael Rosser – Web Editor at ‘Broadcast’ magazine. Michael holds responsibility for the operation of Broadcastnow.co.uk, managing the daily news content and overall strategy for the site. He has been in the job since 2007.

Trying to paint the ‘big picture’ of VJO, we asked him the key questions:

Michael, how well are broadcast institutions making use of online video journalism?

The BBC are leading the way with this as always. All you have to do is look at how they’ve approached the recent earthquake in Japan – on the web page you’ve been able to find the latest  reports, interviews and other video from the ground. They’ve also been running a live stream as well as their news channel. I think this combination of streaming what is being broadcast digitally via cable and satellite, as well as furnishing users with pre-packaged reports – that is why the BBC is the strongest. ITV – not so much. Something they have significant problems with is ITV Player, where they have still got technical speed bumps to overcome there. All you have to do is go on Twitter and type in ITV Player and you’d find an absolute litany of complaints and criticism for this piece of technology. As devices such as iphones and ipads become more widely used, video online from major broadcasters is going to become increasingly important – it’s just a natural progression – but, again, it’s clearly the BBC that are leading the way with this.

How much does citizen journalism fit in to the online broadcasting market?

Hugely. I think that in general it’s going to be professionally produced content that will find it’s way on to major broadcast news sites. But for major incidents, citizen journalism has become an increasingly useful tool – from the 7/7 bombings, when citizen video journalism came to the fore for the first time, to again what we’re seeing in Japan with people shooting the most significant raw footage, because they are there first. This can be packaged together professionally with a voiceover. A combination of the two provides the most compelling footage.

Are these new forms of online video journalism a threat to the big broadcasting corporations?

At the moment, there is no significant threat to the major news organisations. It’s fair to say that, as technology improves so that anybody can have a camera that can shoot HD footage, and as people become savvier to how you shoot and present this sort of footage then, sure, there is an emerging sub-culture of video news outside of the major organisations. But traditional broadcasters have the resource to be able to cover everything. It’s the big boys that have got seemingly bottomless pockets; that can send their journalists around the world; that can buy in the library footage; that can attend the court cases or the inquests… They also have the proper training, the proper skills. It’s very easy to look unprofessional on camera. Just one tiny slip and that completely negates your professionalism. You only have to look at how a major news broadcaster could slip up on one shot and suddenly its all over youtube and everyone’s tweeted about it. Citizen journalism provides a service, but a cheap one in comparison.

Is the trend for online multi-platform journalism diminishing the role of broadcasters?

News brands have to move towards a multi-platform approach as print continues to decline. And they have done. While its not at a level that an organisation like the BBC can provide, it is at a strong level. But, for something like The Telegraph or The Times, their core product remains the newspaper. Times are changing and who knows how things will change. Yet do I think that Telegraph TV will eventually provide a rival service to BBC News? No. What The Telegrah’s core offering could be, going forward, is the Internet. It’s a newspaper still, its a source of news. But thinking about PDAs and apps… these could become the primary way in which their content is consumed.

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