Live event blogging: when text and video come together

screenshot courtesy of guardian.co.uk

By Phil Georgiadis

Live event blogging was originally conceived as  a substitute for video coverage- a way of keeping web users up to date in the absence of any pictures.

It started in the mainstream sphere through sports coverage- a chance for people in the office or without Sky to access some form of coverage.

Its success is clear- a simple look at the Guardian Sport website shows that whenever live sport ‘minute by minute’ coverage has been available on any given day, it invariably is one of the most read items. As you can see from the image (right) – today’s live coverage of the India vs Pakistan cricket World Cup match is the most viewed page in the sports section.

More recently the phenomenon has moved to news coverage. Staying with guardian.co.uk, they are currently running Middle East daily live blogs, as well as their regular politics live feed.

But, crucially, video content and live blogging do no have to exist entirely in separation; particularly in journalism, where holding the rights to various sports’ is not necessary to stream video content.

This screenshot from bbc.co.uk demonstrates how successfully text and video can be integrated into live event coverage

Here, text, graphics and tweets are used to augment video feeds from BBC World and the BBC News Channel, to add an extra dimension to the news coverage. Additional reports and viewer feedback further build on the video journalism.

Sky News’s ‘Live Plus’ service, available via skynews.com offers a less text rich service. Instead of a timeline of text updates for major events Sky tends to use tweets from their own journalists to build up a picture of the news to add to their video content.

As is visible from Sky’s screenshot, they also offer users the opportunity to ‘Chat’ via Facebook during political events- further incorporating social media into the experience.

It is clear, therefore, that the recent developments in the online coverage of live events have blurred the divide between traditional web journalism and live video content.

They exist not in separate spheres but instead in symbiosis- with each adding to the others’ strengths.

 


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Watching TV News Live Online

By Phil Georgiadis

Regular readers of this blog will know how important online video content is to both Sky News and the BBC News Channel

But I wonder how many readers actually watch news channels online? Both stream their news channels live through their websites at the click of a button, but is this a service which goes unnoticed?

The first thing to consider is the vast extra audience that this could add to both channels. While everyone in the world of journalism regards both channels as essential watching- tools of the trade, in terms of a national picture they hardly figure in the multi channel ratings. Last week, for example, neither channel could achieve more than a 2% share of the audience.

But their websites attract a far greater and broader reach- and therefore the opportunity to distribute their live news channels to a huge additional audience.

Usefully, the BBC News Channel’s controller Kevin Bakhurst regularly tweets audience figures for the Beeb’s output- and taking a look at these demonstrates the power of the Beeb’s online audience to grow the News Channel’s viewers.

On Monday, Kevin tweeted that as well as a large audience for the News Channel on TV, he added that the channel was also viewed nearly half a million times online.

Bearing in mind the channels’ relatively small daily audience, this is a major figure, which is not counted by the Rajars.

The News Channel live feed almost always crops up in the most viewed video content at any time on the BBC News website, so it does seem that more and more people are taking to watching live news online. Meanwhile, both Sky and the BBC stream their news channels via their iPhone services too.

Moreover this is a rare example of the BBC streaming live content online- and very successfully, more evidence of the boundaries between TV and online journalism became less definable, and increasingly merged.

Being Smart With Phones

By Alex Dibble

Some news media are missing a trick when it comes to gathering citizen journalism

The image above shows the iPhone apps for BBC News and Sky News. They’re both designed well, with a ‘user friendly’ interface which makes navigation easy and brings the top stories to smartphone users in an instant.

Another interesting feature of these two apps can be seen here:

Both include an option to send your own story to the newsroom. But, crucially the Sky News app allows you to attach a video (as the image below shows), while the BBC equivalent facilitates just photos.

Does this give Sky a significant advantage?

It’s difficult to tell. So far, 2011’s been the year of citizen journalism (in terms of video at least).

The uprisings in North Africa, as well as the natural disasters in New Zealand and Japan have made for some incredible footage being filmed on mobile phones.

But if you’re on the rooftop of a building in Ishinomaki filming the tsunami as it engulfs the city, where would you post the footage?

These days, if you want the world to see what you’ve just recorded, your best bet is either TwitVid or YouTube. If the footage is ‘good’ enough it’ll be seen by news media and used for broadcast.

So for Sky to provide a video uploading facility on their iPhone app doesn’t pay off when major events are occuring overseas.

But what about happenings within the UK?

We all know that when it comes to consuming news most of the public have one provider they tend to stick with.

Whether it be the BBC, Sky, ITV, Channel 4 or any other, loyalty keeps most consumers consuming from one source.

So if, for example, a newsworthy event was captured on an iPhone belonging to a Sky News fan, there’s a good chance they’d want to give Sky News exclusive access to that footage. And so the video uploader on Sky’s app would come in handy.

When it comes to loyalty and news consumption though, the public is ‘defined’ more by the newspaper they buy.

But despite being increasingly concerned with online video content in recent years, none of the major daily’s in this country provide a platform for user generated content on their smartphone apps.

On the Guardian’s app, for example, you can’t upload a photo, let alone a video.

With user loyalty such an ingrained part of news consumption in the UK, the BBC as well as the newspapers are missing a trick.

When Sky’s given that one clip – the exclusive video that transfixes the nation – the BBC and  daily papers will regret they haven’t provided their own consumers with a means to send similar footage from their smart phones.

Never Miss A Beat With Livestation

By Toby Coaker

If, in the age of 24 hour news channels and online media, you find it difficult to cram even more current affairs in to your schedule, think again.

While you might have used Livestation to stream live television over the Internet, perhaps you won’t have used its news video player.

It works in a similar way to the BBC’s iplayer. Yet Livestation aggregates all of the channels below (and more!) and allows you to watch each one – at the same time – on a multi-screen (see above):

Al Jazeera (English), BBC Arabic, BBC News, BBC Parliament, BBC World Service, Bloomberg Television, Channel 4, CNN International, CNBC Europe, euronews, France 24, ITV, RT (English), Sky News

The concept is simple – but it might just revolutionize the way we consume journalism.

Now it’s even easier than ever before to pick and choose between varying news providers – keeping an eye on all but listening to the one story you want to hear.

Such demanding news consumption has, up until now, only been accessible to those with multiple television screens or computer monitors. This is fairly rare beyond the walls of City University’s Journalism Department…

So for those savvy and concerned enough to use Livestation, it could mean the end of brand loyalty. Instead, we pick and choose what we want to engage with – an interview, a package, a two-way… The web is encouraging more competitive video journalism than ever.

There are other features too: Live chat allows you to share opinion with your community. If I was watching a compelling interview on Al Jazeera, for instance, I could encourage others to do the same.

The more impersonal but equally influential Twitter can also be used to quickly respond to changing events and broadcast titbits. Look below at how twitpic is used to rapidly inform others of what the news – and its providers – are doing:

If popular, Livestation will create the most hyper-responsive, critical, and discursive audience of video journalism ever. How should broadcasters react? Let us know.

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.