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:


A selection of you surveyed!

By Umar Farooq

The results are in. 20 very kind people and video journalism enthusiasts (I’m guessing) took part in my “Online News Video Watchers Survey” published on 13th Feb. The aim was to get to know:

1) Our audience, and…

2) …their viewing habits

The raw data

The facts and figures from the Video Watchers Survey (in their raw form)

So what can we conclude…

A fascinating set of results. From the research, based on the short sample, I think the following findings are interesting.

  • An internet-savvy young audience: 85% are aged between 16-25. 70% watch news content online everyday or 3 to 4 times a week.
  • Video-sharing websites are only a part of your online news video watching experience: Just over half watch under 30% of their news content on video sharing sites. Furthermore, majority of this content comes from broadcast news providers (The majority watch over 70% of their online news content from broadcast companies) which shows that people trust conventional media with their news, even if it’s online.
  • The BBC’s YouTube channel is the most popular among you for news content with 53%. Interestingly, the BBC World News channel has been removed from YouTube. Sky News was chosen by 21%, Al-Jazeera and CNN were tied on 11%. Surprisingly, only one person selected ITN News which has one of the best online news channels.
  • Finally, many of you still prefer watching online news on your PC/Laptop in this day and age of the smart-phones and tablets. 80% choosing PC/Laptop.

A big thank you to all the entrants who took part in this short experiment. I think the results point to habits of a modern-day video journalist. The details are interesting and I shall leave you with them.

* The links in this post can be accessed and shared on the VJO delicious page.

Thank you!

A Passion for Pictures


Cameraman (by Pansa Sunavee)

By Umar Farooq

In my journey through the world of video journalism, I’ve been asking experts for their advice for aspiring video journalists. We’ve already established that the area of video journalism is growing. The internet is a great platform for those wanting to practice their film-making skills and build a profile. However, a wider platform and more opportunities don’t necessarily make you a professional or successful VJ. The web is like a training ground but the hard work must come from the individual.

In this post, I will look back at what some of the interviewees said regarding skills needed to succeed, before bringing in my final interviewee.


The question:

  • What sort of advice do you have for aspiring video journalists?

David Parkin,

“The media is changing and so must the journalist. As the founder of the Business Desk, any journalist working for me needs to have three important qualities.

  • Firstly, know your subject. In our case that’s business. We need people with a genuine passion for business news.
  • Secondly, be multi-skilled. The modern-day journalist needs to be able to shoot, edit, write and work online.
  • Thirdly, just be enthusiastic. We’re looking for people who can create powerful and interesting content and are fascinated about the future of the technology.”

Lewis Wiltshire, Editor, BBC Sport Online

“I think it’s important for trainee journalists to be as multi-skilled as possible and video is a huge part of it, as is social media and written content. So the journalists at the BBC are always encouraged to have as many skills as possible. In terms of video, it’s a growing industry and an exciting industry to be in so good luck to all those involved because you never stop learning.”

Tom Chown, freelance video journalist, DigiTomTV

“In terms of advice for aspiring video journalists. Get yourself a camera, learn how to use some simple editing software and then go out there and find a story to tell. I remember when Michael Rosenblum was training us at the BBC, one think he said was that everyone’s got a story to tell and they have. You just have to engage with people and develop your journalistic skills. You have to learn, and you will learn the right questions to ask people to draw themselves, out of themselves. Put people at ease, make them relaxed and they’ll tell you the most fascinating things you never thought possible.”

Wise words from the three experts. I think David pretty much covers all ground in terms of journalistic qualities. Lewis from the BBC places emphasis on being multi-skilled and Tom speaks as an experienced video journalist.

My next interviewee is Abrar Hussain, Creative Director at Life Of This World Media. He started the company around 5 years ago and specialises in video production for charities.  I met Abrar outside Finchley Central Underground station to discuss video journalism online.

Abrar provides a very good explanation of how the internet is slowly transforming his business and video journalism. Once again we see emphasis on how video is being produced only for the online world, when he says that the number one question in any kind of production meeting now is how can we make this work online? However, for me, I think Abrar’s advice to aspiring journalist comes from the heart and he captures this overarching principle of ‘passion’ really well. There is no doubt that the modern-day journalist has to be multi-skilled and work across platforms. In video journalism, he/she must be able to pitch, shoot, edit, script, voice and deliver content for the target audience. Yet equally as important is the passion for pictures, the enthusiasm and the willingness to just go for it. Video journalism is an area where you’re constantly learning by watching and making mistakes so the passion must be there.

Here’s a transcript of Abrar’s response when asked to give advice to aspiring video journalists.

Abrar Hussain, Creative Director, Life Of This World Media

“Just make sure you’ve got a passion. Don’t be doing it because you think ‘oh this is cool, I’ll do this and get into it because it’s cool.’ Look at me, I was running around with a video camera when I was 10 years old, I was filming the family events. I had a video camera, I was doing it and I loved it because it was my passion. At University, I studied Business and IT, not media but I started making documentaries for my university and they were paying me for it. It was a passion and I grew up with it. Don’t think ‘I’ll get to meet celebrities’ or ‘I’ll get to travel,’ they’re the wrong kind of motivations. Just be really really passionate. The other thing, work very very hard. Work while other people are sleeping and you’ll get ahead.”

It’s all about motivation.

Finally, here’s another plug for the “Online News Video Watchers Survey” with some interesting entries in so far, so keep them coming. In the next few posts, I’ll be disclosing the results from the survey and look into some of the technology/devices used to film the interviews.

Carry on filming!

* The links in this post can be accessed and shared on the VJO delicious page.

“A fantastic tool for telling really short stories” – Tom Chown

By Umar Farooq

Last week, I met up with Tom Chown (@DigiTomTV), a BBC-trained freelance video journalist with 13 years of experience in the industry. Tom’s career is a great story in itself which has seen him spend 5 years at the BBC, before working on an Online TV channel (Ten Alps IPTV) and freelancing for several news agencies (PA, AFP). He’s even traveled to the North Pole to produce a series of features for BBC News 24 (beat that!).

Tom’s observations are fascinating because he started out back in the early 2000’s, a time when the internet was reletively new. Since then, he has seen it develop and utilised it as a powerful tool for video journalists. He is, in his own description, a “self-shooting journalist” and looking at his work, a pretty good one. Here’s the interview.

A quote that stands out from the from Tom is his description of video journalism online as “a fantastic tool for telling really short stories.” I think the key word is ‘short’ and Tom is spot on in his elaboration that “people are searching for short bite-size bits of content.” These words reflect the biggest advantage of video journalism online, flexibility, allowing producers and broadcasters to create content solely for the ‘online’ audience.

There are, in my view, two ways in which content is being made for a definitive audience.

All in all, the web is great for implementing the classic business model of “doing more with less” and for any enthusiastic video journalist, it’s a brilliant platform to build a profile. Tom Chown’s wise words highlight the impact of the web on video journalism. It’s all about flexibility and opportunities.

* The links in this post can be accessed and shared on the VJO delicious page.

Video journalism is going places on the BBC Sport website

By Umar Farooq

If you’ve been following us on twitter (@videojournos), you would have seen myself (@UmarOnline) and my colleague Toby (@TobyCoaker) tweeting about the #VJOchallenge. It was, in summary, a challenge we set ourselves to find as many video journalism experts in a 3-hour period and interview them for VJO. Cue mass hysteria, running from North to West and then East London, chasing important people within the field of video journalism. As it turned out, we ended up with just one* but he was the big one and for me, the most exciting one.

Lewis Wiltshire (@LewisWiltshire) is the editor of the BBC Sport website and in his own words, responsible for “content across the website, BBC Mobile and some red button IPTV content.”  He has one of the biggest jobs in online journalism at the biggest media broadcaster in the world. I was delighted to have finally got hold of the editor, purely because the BBC Sport website is leading the way in ground-breaking sports coverage and video is at the heart of it’s output. So here it is, the exclusive interview with Mr. Lewis Wiltshire including some wise words for aspiring video journalists:

To continue, I love sport (playing/watching) and the BBC Sport website is pretty much my favorite sports news website (along with Sky Sports and a few other specialist sites). The website covers sport really well, partly due to it’s attachment to the broadcaster and all the sporting rights that come with it. The stats don’t lie. Last year, coverage of the Football World Cup and Wimbledon Tennis drew in record numbers, with 6m unique visitors watching England Vs. Slovenia on the website. So the popularity of the website cannot be denied and there is no doubt that video plays a major part. Just have a look at these screen-grabs taken form the BBC Sport website. Most of the comments are on the graphics but I will add additional comments below the pictures. Crucially, note how the website alerts users to video content and the techniques used to point it out.

BBC Sport website homepage on 17/03/2011 (1)

1)  The bar on the right side of the page is really effective. It is clear, concise and outlines the latest video content on the website, be it live coverage or pre-recorded/highlights. There are also several links to video highlights related to specific sports and a dedicated ‘Video and Audio’ page.

BBC Sport website homepage on 17/03/2011 (2)

2) On the bottom half of the page, the “90 seconds” round-up is a great way of appealing to those wanting to see a quick preview of the goals.

The use of video in Dan Walker's blog on the BBC Sport website

3) This blog post from Football Focus presenter Dan Walker is a classic example of how sports content broadcast on TV is then uploaded on to the website. In this case, Dan provides us with a unique insight into the programme and we also see a video clip of the interview with Rafael Benitez. More recently, the website has been home to an online-specific preview of Football Focus known as ‘Friday Focus.’  This off-the-cuff video looks forward to the programme on Saturday with a football pundit. Once again, we see the interactivity between TV broadcast and online video content, as mentioned by Lewis in the interview.

A Six Nations video on the BBC Sport website

4) This is a pretty fascinating picture. The plug for future live coverage once again shows the multi-platform nature of the BBC. The links to similar content and popular content are there to make sure you don’t drift off elsewhere. In the case of the latter, we see ‘Editor’s choice,’ that would be Lewis Wiltshire.

So, let me know your views on the interview and these pictures. I think the BBC Sport website really takes video seriously and it would be wrong for it not to. The passion of the editor is great to see and the future certainly looks bright for journalists interested in sports video journalism. You can as always, tweet: @UmarOnline@videojournos or e-mail: Your views are greatly appreciated.

* The links in this post can be accessed and shared on the VJO delicious page.

**interviews with some of the other commentators have been rescheduled.

Business News Meets Video Journalism in the Regions

By Umar Farooq

The area of video journalism online is expanding and this week saw the launch of a new business video channel from the team at ‘The Business Desk.’

David Parkin from

It’s an example of how specialist websites are now using the medium of video to deliver news content for a more specific audience. The website has been the hub of regional business news since 2007 with focus on Yorkshire, North West and and the West Midlands.

The latest development, Business Desk TV is the UK’s first dedicated regional business video channel. I spoke to the man in the middle, David Parkin, based in the Leeds office.

Q1: Hi David, thanks for giving up your time to speak to Video Journalism Online. Tell me a little about Business Desk TV.

“Well it’s an online business news video channel specifically focusing on business video content for our regional membership. At The Business Desk, we’re keen to provide good quality video content for our members be it news, debates, seminars or interviews from the world of business and this channel will allow us to do that.”

Q2: David, this is a video channel online, why video and why online?

“We believe fundamentally that the online technology with the speed in particular allows you to provide a great video news service. On top of this and perhaps more importantly, our focus is on a regional and specific video-watching audience. The online service allows us to focus our content and direct it to the audiences based in the regions we cover.”

“In relation to your question about video, well it really is the media of the future isn’t it? We know our audience and it’s needs well enough and so video allows us to provide them with the vital information in 2-3 minutes.That’s what they want and that’s what we’ll give them.”

Q3: Have you hired a dedicated team of video journalists to put the content together?

“We don’t need to. We’ve already been filming about a dozen events around the UK every month and the team will continue to work hard to add content to our online library. In terms of technology, our journalists who write for the website are multi-skilled. They all produce video content with a number of flip-cams available to them for personal use.”

“We’re also working with professional video companies to produce quality HD content. I’ve invited several media agencies to provide us with high quality editorial content so we’re encouraging more businesses to submit video footage that can help and help us report news and events. Above all, quality of content is massively crucial for our members.”

Q4:Finally David, for our readers who are aspiring to step into video journalism what sort of advice do you have?

“The media is changing and so must the journalist. As the founder of the Business Desk, any journalist working for me needs to have three important qualities. Firstly, know your subject. In our case that’s business. We need people with a genuine passion for business news. Secondly, be multi-skilled. The modern-day journalist needs to be able to shoot, edit, write and work online. Thirdly, just be enthusiastic. We’re looking for people who can create powerful and interesting content and are fascinated about the future of the technology.”

I think David has taken the idea of bringing business news to life and decided to experiment with it. The invitation to PR companies and other businesses is interesting and the online library of content is a cracking idea. This model is one being used by several niche websites to provide content for their audience.  Let me know what you think about David’s comments. You can tweet: @UmarOnline / @videojournos or e-mail:

And while we’re at it, here’s another plug for the “Online News Video Watchers Survey.” Some interesting entries in so far, so keep them coming video fans.

* The links in this post can be accessed and shared on the VJO delicious page.

VJO at Broadcast Video Expo 2011

By Umar Farooq

Last month, a few of us at Video Journalism Online (VJO) were fortunate enough to attend the Broadcast Video Expo 2011. The 3-day event at Earls Court 2 was home to production staff and broadcasters keen to market the future of the industry.

We felt the event had to hold an online element and we weren’t far wrong. Upon arrival, I was able to track down representatives from three different online video providers and conduct short video interviews. The key question was: how does your website help or promote video journalism in the online world? The analysis follows the video:

Maria Elena, ClipTV

Clip TV describes itself as an online viral video agency. The company deals with caught on camera reality footage from the comedy to dramatic rescue. In other words, the site encourages and promotes citizen journalism and clients can browse through a selection of the material online. Looking through the site, I came to the conclusion that the agency was like a ‘You’ve been framed’ video library. So, how does it help the video journalist? Well, although it doesn’t help them directly, Maria makes an interesting point when she says that the film-makers tracking reality footage have a great deal of variety to look through on Clip TV. However, whilst the market for viral video cannot be ignored, the lack of journalistic content on the website is a worry.

Cato Salter, Clip Canvas

At Clip Canvas, the attraction is high quality HD footage and graphics. In simple words, the website hosts an online catalogue allowing potential clients to look through a number of animations, backgrounds and landscapes. The site offers top quality stock footage for documentary and studio-programme makers. The catalogue itself is generic and some of the content can be used in journalistic video. There are, at the moment, 140,000 clips online so the diversity and variety cannot be questioned. The only small criticism which Cato himself alludes to in the interview is once again the lack of journalistic content on Clip Canvas. Despite this, providing high quality and HD video for clients means they’re on to a winner.

Emma Simpson, Journeyman Pictures

It was a pleasure to meet Emma from Journeyman, a film distributor specialising in “topical news features and documentaries.” The website is a video store, allowing you to either watch online or purchase on DVD. The YouTube channel has video clips from over 350 films and around 112,000 subscribers. The company itself was found in the 1990’s but the online elements are the most fascinating for our purposes. Content is journalistic, most specifically current affairs documentaries and there is a great variety once again. The ability to watch the documentaries online upon the payment of a subscription fee is a feature worthy of praise. It means Journeyman is a niche video-sharing website with a catalogue which can only be described as immense.

I will be back with more video journalism analysis, in the meantime don’t forget to take part in the “Online News Video Watchers Survey.” The results will be analysed very soon.


* The links in this post can be accessed and shared on the VJO delicious page.