The future of video journalism online (Part 2)

By VideoJournalismOnline

On VJO we’ve been looking ahead to the future. What’s in store? And how will the latest developments prove to alter the direction of online video journalism?

In the second part of VJO Interviews, Ross Cullen asks Alex Dibble, Umar Farooq, Chris Creegan and Phil Georgiadis where they see the industry going:

Training the online video journalists of tomorrow…

image courtesy of NCTJ website

 

By Chris Creegan

The National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) is about to finish the first year in which it offers an online video journalism module as part of its diploma.

This option, entitled Videojournalism for Online, will allow budding journalists to gain the skills necessary for producing short and focussed video reports specifically for the internet.

Within the new course there are four separate study units – equipment and techniques, videojournalism and news gathering, interviewing and regulation and compliance. Interestingly, the module emphasises that it will train students to “industry standards” – a poignant symbol of how integral online video has become to mainstream news media.

The 60-hour programme of study will teach students how to put packages together specifically for news websites, and it also includes a two hour video-editing examination towards the end of the course.

So far, five centres offer this course, and the first set of exams was completed in January. Lyn Jones, head of qualifications at the NCTJ, says: “The NCTJ introduced this skills-based option for trainee journalists as part of the Diploma in Journalism to compliment the core mandatory skills that all journalists need. Journalists in all sectors of the media are required to report stories online and using video as a platform gives trainees an additional string to their bow when seeking employment.”

Lloyd Bracey is the NCTJ’s chief examiner for video and online journalism and, speaking earlier in the academic year, explained the significance of the new module:  “The videojournalism module is a long-awaited and much needed addition to the core skills suite, aimed at the increasing expectations of news organisations not traditionally associated with audio-video content to generate online content.

“It takes the trainee through basic elements of gathering material for online use – bearing in mind the wide range of ways in which such material is likely to appear – from simple clips to fully packaged reports. It’s been a challenging syllabus to design to strike the balance between necessary skills and advanced skills, but the resulting 60 hours of study will provide trainee journalists with the knowledge they need both to produce useful material and to inform their future career choices.”

Whilst it is still too early to analyse the success of this modules’ first year, the NCTJ’s head of examinations, Joanne Atkinson says that there are hopes to roll the module out to more accredited centres across the country by next September.

Changes are coming in the regulation of online video journalism…

photo courtesy of ATVOD

 

By Chris Creegan

A ruling published earlier this week revealed that the Authority for Television on Demand could gain the power to regulate the video content of online newspapers.

ATVOD, the body responsible for regulating the Television on Demand services offered via the likes of BBC iPlayer, 4OD and ITV Player, could be soon be able to regulate the video content on the online version of newspapers as well.

Newspaper providers are arguing that they should be exempt from this regulation. They feel the ruling should apply only to “TV-like” content, rather than the more journalistic and news-based content they offer.

These papers, which include The Sun, The Sunday Times, News of the World and Elle, are now appealing to Ofcom to try and have the decision rescinded.

If their appeal is rejected, it means that the newspapers and magazines affected would have to pay an annual sum to ATVOD for the regulation of their online services.

Those that fail to pay this fee could face fines of up to £250,000 and have their video offerings suspended.

What is interesting about this development is that it means, for the first time, the UK press will come under an external regulator’s control (it is currently self-regulated by the PCC).

Papers looking to expand their online video content in the future could now face a far greater challenge than broadcasters, whose news content does not fall under the same regulation.

This story highlights some of the issues that can occur when news organisations take their services to a new platform, and it shows some of the complexities found in online regulation.

This story is likely to develop throughout the coming weeks, but if you want to know more, head on over to the ATVOD website for more details.

Making History (Profitable)

By Chris Creegan

The internet has made it possible for news broadcasters to offer vast quantities of footage to the general public – whether free or at a cost.

Thanks to the advent of 24-hour rolling news, video journalism is truly driven by a focus is on the ‘NEW’ the ‘NOW’ and the ‘NEXT’. What is the freshest angle to the story? And how is it going to develop in the future?

But now, thanks to the online medium, there is another element that comes into play. Quite the opposite of the ‘NOW’, but rather, the ‘THEN’.

What I am referring to is video archive.

The internet has made it possible for news broadcasters to upload vast quantities of video footage onto their websites from the years gone by.

They offer a vast, searchable resource of news for users to plough through at their leisure. This is something that was never possible solely within the TV medium.

Thanks to the net, we are able to revisit the same story as many times as we want, or find old stories at the push of a button.

The BBC news website, for example, allows you to search through the past three years of footage – thousands upon thousands of video stories are available:

screenshot courtesy of BBC news online

 

And then of course there is the BBC Archive, found at BBC Motion Gallery. This, unlike the news website resources, is a paid service, where you can purchase clips from the news archive dating as far back as far back as 60 years:

The BBC Archives boasts over eight million hours of BBC content

 

The BBC Archives website also acts as the exclusive global representative of footage from CBS, CCTV in China, the Japanese broadcaster NHK, and Austalian broadcaster ABC.

ITN also offers a similar resource – ITN Source:

screenshot courtesy of ITN source

 

ITN Source is one of the world’s largest commercial video resources, and it represents the world’s largest collection of video libraries. This includes not just ITV, but also Reuters, Fox News, Nine Network (Australia), UTV, ANI, and Fox Movietone (as well as other specialist collections).

Whilst these are perhaps the best examples of online news footage, this is by no means a niche practice. Most other broadcasters make use of the internet to provide a resource of online video.

As news broadcasters continue to acquire more and more footage through external contribution and citizen journalism, the need to keep it well-organised and readily accessible will remain vital.

The fact that this footage can then be sold on highlights the financial benefits of such a practice, and so the rewards to companies that engage in it are plentiful.

I Saw It On The Radio

By Chris Creegan

In the ever-changing media landscape, radio broadcasters are investing in video content in order to stay in the game.

Over the past few years, the growth of the internet has steadily entrenched the phenomenon of media convergence in our minds. In this day and age, if you aren’t multiplatform, you don’t exist.

Having a website has meant that TV broadcasters such as Sky and the BBC have had to spend vast resources on written material, whereas newspaper companies like the Guardian have had to invest in video content.

Perhaps the most radically affected medium of all, however, is radio.

Ever since the emergence of television, people have espoused the so-called “death of radio”. Like newspapers, this is a medium that has had to adapt fast to the world around it in order to stay relevant.

And that is why radio broadcasters have chosen to embrace the internet.

Instead of letting it threaten their existence, they are using the internet as a tool to expand their reach. Thanks to podcasts and online streaming, the public can now access the airwaves through more avenues than ever before.

And now, many radio stations have gone the extra mile to provide video content as well.

A prime example of a radio station doing this is Absolute Radio. The broadcaster gets more viewers on its website than listeners to its station, and so it has adapted.

It has one of the most comprehensive websites out there and includes copious amounts of online video content. A quick look at its homepage and you can see that every link in the ‘On Demand’ section takes you to a video:

screenshot courtesy of Absolute Radio online

 

Again on the homepage you can see that three of the four most popular links on the Breakfast Show are all videos too:

screenshot courtesy of Absolute Radio online

 

If you move from the Absolute Radio to the homepage to the video section you can uncover even more video content:

screenshot courtesy of Absolute Radio online

 

Here you can see links to video interviews with celebrities and musicians, as well as coverage of various gigs and award ceremonies.

Absolute Radio is not the only UK radio station making use of online video either. The likes of LBC and Smooth, for instance, also provide links to video news on their websites, amongst other content.

Whilst much of the video on these other websites is outsourced rather than produced in-house like Absolute, it still shows that radio stations have accepted the importance of online video as being a key part of their business model.

Read about it or watch it? An analysis of the BBC News website

By Chris Creegan

With over 14 million unique users a week, the BBC News website is one of the most popular online news sources in the world.

Amongst its many features, the website allows users to see which of its stories are most popular. A box at the bottom of the homepage shows the top 10 most read articles and the top 10 most watched videos (as well as the top five most shared stories).

At a time when there are so many major international stories unfolding (such as the Libyan uprising or the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami), I decided to take a snapshot of the BBC’s most popular stories and compare them.

Here are the most watched videos (left) and the most read stories (right) on the BBC News website, on Saturday the 19th of March 2011 at 13:49:

Even at first glance there is a noticeable difference in the make-up of these two lists. The leading story in both is different, with a Libyan story featuring in the number one slot in most viewed and a UK story featuring as number one in the most read.

This is not particularly surprising, considering the dramatic nature of the Libyan jet footage and the fact that the story about the death of the schoolgirl has no accompanying video footage at the time of writing.

However, when you start to look at the stories that both sections share, some interesting observations can be made. Take a look at this example:

Here, you can see that the story about Gaddafi’s forces attacking Benghazi is the second most read story on the BBC News website, and also appears fourth in most viewed section.

This implies that many users reading the story about Benghazi have then gone on to follow other links with video footage that supplements the Libyan coverage.

In this instance, it seems that online video journalism is supporting the written articles.

This next image emphasises the popularity of Libya-related stories in both sections:

Again, the fact that more than half of the most viewed stories focus on Libya supports the idea that those reading about Libya are going on to find out more through the medium of video.

But now look at the comic relief story, which also appears in both sections:

This story is almost equally as popular in both formats. Unlike the Libyan coverage, both links are receiving significant traffic, regardless of the medium of the news itself.

Next, have a look at the lack of Japan-related stories on the most viewed section.

Despite the fact that the third most read story on the BBC News website relates to the aftermath of the Japan earthquake, not many people are following the story through video.

This is interesting considering the vast amounts of footage on the BBC News website from Japan in recent days.

What this suggests is that whilst people are interested in reading about what is happening in Japan, they aren’t necessarily willing to pursue the story further through video.

A final observation to be taken from comparing these two lists is where the lighter stories feature. We can see in both the most read and most viewed sections that the celebrity-based or “fluff” stories feature significantly:

Interestingly, whilst the lighter stories make up just under half of the top 10 in both sections, they do all fall in the second half of the list.

What can be gleaned from this is that users will generally gravitate towards the more serious stories, regardless of whether the story is a written article or a video clip.

CONCLUSION

Whilst this is simply a glimpse of the most popular pages on the BBC News website at a single moment, it throws up some interesting ideas:

1)       That video journalism can work as an effective supplement to written articles.

2)      That what people like to watch doesn’t necessarily reflect what they like to read about (Japan example)

3)      That online video journalism is a popular format for a variety of types of news, whether this is hard news or ‘fluff’

In order to get a clearer picture of the relationship between the most watched and most read BBC News stories, the website would have to be monitored over a longer period.

However, what these images do help to illustrate is that the very format of the news (be it video or written word) can determine the actual stories we choose to follow.

And the award goes to…Citizen Journalism

CNN iReport’s Lila King announces the winners of the first-ever CNN iReport Awards

By Chris Creegan

Yesterday’s inaugural CNN iReport Awards show how far mainstream news organisations have come in embracing citizen journalism as a source of online video content.

Launched in August 2006, CNN iReport is an initiative that encourages people around the world to act as reporters, covering events via mobile or digital camera and sending in their footage.

CNN saw the value in such a system after both the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and the 7/7 Bombings in London in 2005. The power of citizen journalism became clear, with people at the scene able to obtain key pictures and video before mainstream news even gatherers arrived.

And so, fast-forward five years. Technology has improved and now it is increasingly easy to become a makeshift reporter.

Here are the winners from the video section of the CNN’s first iReport awards, and their footage highlights the ever-increasing potential of citizen video journalism.

Breaking news: Michael Roberts (Early images of Deepwater Horizon fire)

Original reporting: Percy von Lipinski (Bison as pet)

Interview: Tristan Macaraeg (16-year-old interviews classmate on living in foster care)

Community Choice Award: Samantha Bolton (Clearing cluster bombs on the Ho Chi Minh Trail)

The variety of stories, the quality of video and the diversity of contributors involved all highlight just how much citizen journalism has developed in the past five years.

As it becomes easier and easier to capture and upload high quality video, more avenues for original journalism like this will open up.

It is refreshing to see these citizen journalists getting the credit that their work deserves. We are living in an era where much of our news is sourced in this manner, and so broadcasters could stand to benefit by following in the footsteps of CNN and recognising this fact.