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:

Drawing Inspiration From Afar

image courtesy of psdgraphics.com

By Toby Coaker

Away from the UK, I draw your attention to two trends in overseas online video journalism that could come to influence how the medium is operated here.

USA – Vidcaster

As Ross Cullen mentioned in his latest post, video journalists are becoming more impatient with mass-content provider Youtube. It provides limited control over advertisements, offers little in the way of traffic reporting, and promotes a repellent comment culture.

In the US, Vidcaster is fast becoming a preferable platform for professional video makers to distribute content. You can create your own website, which is hosted on the Vidcaster platform. Yet the key point is that you can host your Vidcaster site on your own domain so that appears to users as if its your own. Think of it as a vloggers wordpress. Like the latter, it allows immediate interaction with a variety of social media and video sharing websites – meaning that video journalism can be professionalized and marketed at a convenience not yet present in British journalistic culture. Follow the link below to watch an introduction by co-founder Kieran Farr:

http://vidsf.com/759

Vidcaster offers users video site customization, as well as control over web distribution of content. In the US its now easier than ever to market one’s video journalism on the Internet. Let’s hope that a similar platform will emerge here soon.

France – Citizenside

As citizen journalism distribution becomes more established, one company has come up with a novel idea to encourage higher standards amongst its network of amateur journalists. Citizenside, a Paris-based syndicator of user generated content, sells its footage on to over 100 professional news organizations around the world.

Now, in like of heated competition from other companies, it’s decided to turn its journalism in to a video game. Users are rewarded with points for posting videos (and pictures etc.). The more points one accumulates, the closer one gets become to achieving virtual promotion (from reporter to correspondent to editor-in-chief of a region, for instance). The managers of Citizenside believe it is social validation that pushes people. Such an incentive will, it is hoped, encourage greater standards and thus the acquisition of more lucrative and engaging video content.

There are concerns that increasing the level of competition will promote ‘cheating’ and the doctoring of false material. We’ll have to see whether this technique will increase the ever-growing role of user-generated-content in online video journalism – it’s certainly an interesting idea!

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!

Cut, Paste, Play

By Ross Cullen

The rise in use of video by both professional journalists and citizen journalists has called for an increase in online portals to aid the editing and storing of such videos.

You grab your smartphone or high-powered pocket camera and go. You shoot; you capture; you record. You have a lot of footage that needs tidying up before, finally, you can tell the story. Where do you go?

To follow the upward trend in use of video and the posting of videos online, there has been a rise in the number and capabilities of online video editing websites.

As this is a fast flowing and developing medium, editing-software designers have also had to adapt to the changes. There are many of these sites and some of them rival each other directly with what they can offer.

Both A-Frame (website shown above) and Pixorial have realised that video journalists need somewhere to store their work online, without having to use a default mass-content provider such as YouTube. There is a need for websites that have a more professional and editorial feel than YouTube, which can be seen, at times, as a multinational giant overlooking the small, corner shop-keeper.

For pure, simple editing, many use YouTube’s software, (although that can feel a little raw), Adobe’s ‘Premiere Express’ and JayCut (website shown above).

There are also sites like photobucket (website shown below) which strive to promote the simplicity and pleasure of photo and video creating and sharing.  On the other hand, other sites such as Kaltura, try to show off how their technical, unique editing platforms can help you.

However, the danger for these websites is that they can be squeezed for space in a growing and changing market, of which, as noted above, YouTube is the dominant power.

The Internet is now the base for video journalism, with the days of shelves of tapes and film reels long gone. Companies are moving their bases online as well, and offering the range of adaptable services that such a moveable medium demands.

Watch What’s Happening

By Emily Craig

More and more people are directly streaming their own video online. Not all of it’s journalism in the traditional sense, but some of it is – by design and by chance.

Citizen journalists (and in some cases ‘people in the street’ would be a better way of describing them) are going out armed with nothing more than a mobile phone and with this technology they’re streaming content for others to consume. The Guardian’s website, announcing the fall of Egypt’s President Mubarak in live time, embedded on its homepage a Ustream video of the protests in Tahrir Square.

This type of reporting requires planning – establishing contact with someone on the ground in preparation – but it means a newspaper can play at being a rolling news provider. The Guardian’s Ustream channel has attracted more than 1 million viewers in the 2 months since it was set up.

Ustream describes itself as an ‘interactive broadcast platform’ that ‘enables anyone with an internet connection and a camera to engage their audience in a meaningful, immediate way’. Minus the PR speak, it’s a Californian dotcom company that allows people to stream video content live on their own channel. With the proliferation of 3G phones, websites like UStream are capitalising on the number of people uploading and consuming video content.

Qik.com, justin.tv and YouTube all offer a similar service. Justin.tv sees 300 million visitors per month. Rival Ustream has 2,000,000 registered users and 5 times as many unique hits so it’s hardly surprising that it now wants to expand into the Asian market with the help of a Japanese investor.

Some of these streamed videos could be described as journalism in the old-school sense. For instance, Ustream provided coverage of certain debates in the 2008 US Presidential elections. But a lot of these videos are socially valuable, rather than newsworthy; in other words, you might think you’ve arrived at a social media site rather than a news portal.

But, crucially, can a website be both? The likes of Ustream and justin.tv are undoubtedly democratic in their approach. People, rather than television networks, decide what’s popular and what’s worthy of being shared (although users can opt to share their videos privately with a select group).

All these video streaming sites emphasise the importance of allowing people to ‘engage’ in a ‘social’ way by sharing video. But with the quality of video content varying widely, will the best videos be the most popular and the most shared?

It’s difficult for Ustream to argue that its service is ‘all about premium content’ when there’s no editorial processes at work. And it’s important to remember that people are streaming their videos live – they’re not editing their footage . This can make for raw immediacy or CCTV-type wallpaper.

In the words of qik.com, ‘Interesting moments can happen anywhere’. The challenge for these video streamers is to be in the right place at the right time.

The battle for Zawiyah – professional journalism trumping online video content

By Phil Georgiadis

Many of the posts on this blog have been looking at how powerful user generated videos have been at documenting the unrest throughout the Arab world.

Clearly, the power of social media offers a glimpse into events which otherwise would go undocumented, as mobile phones and digital cameras become powerful tools at offering the outside world glimpses of events.

But some of the professional journalism which we have been watching throughout the unrest has highlighted the flaws in citizen video journalism.

Youtube clips of demonstrations and atrocities do not offer a coherent picture- instead they are snapshots into events, often presenting a dislocated narrative which it is hard to form a clear picture through.

Recently, Sky News has been showing a report by its mulit-award winning Asia correspondent Alex Crawford, which documents the battle for the Libyan town of Zawiyah with extraordinary clarity and power.

If you haven’t yet watched it I recommend you click on the video below- it is a brave and compelling piece of journalism.

Most importantly, this is a rare opportunity to gain a full idea of what was happening on the ground. Instead of snatches of footage from the protestors, this is a linear narrative of a full weekend in the town, as it came under relentless assault from pro-Gaddafi forces.

The fact that it is also presented from a personal perspective, the first person narrative is particularly striking, adds both to the coherency, and also verifiability of the piece.

Crawford is a trusted journalist, we know when watching the report that isolated incidents are not being hyped upped- it is instead a sober and realistic view into life under assault in Libya.

It is a staggering piece of journalism, and although online video content delivered via social media has essentially been the heartbeat of media coverage of regime crackdowns in the Middle East, this report should make us all take stock, step back, and remember that on the rare occasion that it is possible- professional journalism from the scene remains the most powerful way of reporting global news events.

VJO at the Broadcast Video Expo 2011 – Women and Video

By Ross Cullen

What more can women do to increase their online presence?

I attended the Broadcast Video Expo recently with other videojournalismonline colleagues. We ensured that we captured the interviews on mobile devices, to try to explore the immediacy and portability of the video medium. However, this was not without problems, as will be discussed later on in the post. You can view the first blogpost from this exhibition here – VJO at the Broadcast Video Expo 2011, 07/03/11.

The event was mainly focussed on the technical side of the industry and in my next blogpost, I will look at an interview we conducted with a representative from that area.

But to investigate the role that women have and could have in the world of online we visited Women in Film and Television. According to their website, “Women in Film & TV is the premier membership organisation for women working in creative media in the UK, and part of an international network of over 10,000 women worldwide.”

Here is Siobhan Pridgeon, Awards and Events Producer, Women in Film and Television.

The most significant points that Ms Pridgeon raised were:

1) The importance of women using the Internet as a video medium to promote themselves, through showreels, for example

2) The need for women to recognise that the Internet is a global brand and a free, reactive, marketing medium

3) The online world can be a less scary place to make yourself known than proactively making person-to-person contact

Technically, as you can see, the choice to use a Blackberry to capture the footage raises contradictory points. On one hand, using the camera on a phone allows you to start and stop filming immediately, wherever you are. But on the other hand, the footage is not of the highest quality and the lack of an external microphone diminishes the standard of the sound. Yet, it is not practical to carry expensive and heavy recording equipment with you at all times and for this reason one has to rely on the phone to provide immediate platforms for on-the-go video capturing.

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IbXIsgrvRU&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL