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.

Video journalism – on the radio???

By Phil Georgiadis

Building on Chris Creegan’s post about the role of video journalism on radio station websites, for our latest post Video Journalism Online has been speaking to the BBC’s Vassos Alexander about the ever expanding use of video content on the 5 Live website.

Vassos is the voice of sport on the 5 Live Breakfast show, and also presents many of 5 Live Sport’s outside broadcasts from around the world.

Vassos told us that video content is a key growth area on the website: ‘5 Live are trying to offer a fresh and distinctive product online, and an important part of that is our live streams of the shows. Not only can you, of course, listen live and back to programmes on the iPlayer, but you can also watch them, as they go out, live.’

Vassos continued that ‘this is a completely different way of offering content to the consumer, and I think it has been very successful’.

But what about the presenters themselves? Does the increasing role of video content change the way they broadcast?

‘To be honest, we forget that the cameras are there and get on with it, we aren’t treating it like TV, and constantly thinking where the cameras are and so on. I mean the thing is, essentially all your are seeing is a load of people in a studio talking into the mics, we aren’t looking into the cameras or anything, the audio still drives the experience- but web users seem to like being able to see what we’re doing’.

In addition to this, the 5 Live website offers highlight clips of big name guests in the studio, which allows one to watch edited clips of programmes.

There is a lot of discussion on this blog and elsewhere considering the relationship between TV and web video- but it seems that the radio is successfully getting in on the act too.

Vlog on Vlogging

By Toby Coaker (Camera – Umar Farooq)

The vlog, vodcast, video blog… its an increasingly tamed beast. It’s also becoming more and more popular in the realm of online journalism. In this exclusive vodcast on vodcasting, I ask what exactly is video blogging, and what makes it stand out from conventional journalism:

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, TheBusinessDesk.tv

“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.

An Evening With Guardian Films

By Emily Craig

Jacqui Timberlake was emphatic. ‘We are a broadcaster’, she declared to the assembled audience. And the Production Manager of Guardian Films has good reason to make this claim. Guardian Films’ 2006 production, Baghdad: A Doctor’s Story, which screened on the BBC and HBO, won an Emmy.

The film is a 45 minute offering and, in the days before many people uploaded or streamed video online, it was made for TV. It’s possible to find excerpts of Baghdad: A Doctor’s Story on the Guardian’s website, but it wasn’t designed as an internet documentary.

Back in 2006, the Guardian Films team had pitched their idea to the BBC. Now, says Maggie O’ Kane, the Editorial Director of Guardian Films, they’re competing with the same broadcasters that they relied upon before.

Broadcast journalists are not the only ones out on the street with a camera (Creative Commons)

Maggie O’ Kane had pushed for the creation of Guardian Films in the days before video journalism had become an online phenomenon. As one of the newspaper’s foreign correspondents, who spent time in the likes of Burma and Afghanistan, she says broadcast journalists would come to her and her colleagues, after they’d been working on a story, and expect to be handed a list of names and contacts so they could follow up with a film piece.

When the BBC’s Fergal Keane did just that after she’d endured the discomfort of the Burmese jungle as part of her research for a G2 feature, Maggie O Kane asked the question of Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger: ‘Why aren’t the Guardian making films?’

As a result of their conversation, Guardian Films was created. And, with the development of Internet technology, its focus has shifted from TV features to the newspaper’s website. Now Guardian Films produce videos to tie in with articles that appear in the newspaper and, simultaneously, on guardian.co.uk.

Many of their videos could be described as investigative. As Maggie O Kane put it, by incorporating video into a piece of journalism, ‘It’s a way of saying ‘This is important”. Their undercover report into the racist violence of the English Defence League is an example of this theory in action. The video appeared on the Guardian’s website as the print edition went to press with the story in article form on the front page, above the fold. And the newspaper ensured maximum coverage by publishing the story on the day that the EDL planned to stage another demo in Newcastle. The video has had some 195 000 views – and counting.

Sometimes, the Guardian Films team will write the article accompanying their video. The rest of the time, they link up with journalists on the paper. But Maggie O’ Kane admitted that ‘it can be a case of the left hand not talking to the right hand’. Recently they were forced to work solidly for 48 hours in order to make sure that their Wikileaks Iraq log video could be uploaded alongside a print story due to be published.

The Guardian Film team insist that video media is not only a compliment to online copy, but it can be a way of introducing the viewer to a story. In other words, the video can come first – it’s not a badly-produced afterthought.

And the other bonus of making videos exclusively for the paper’s website – and not for a broadcaster – is that the videos exist in ‘web perpetuity’. Newspapers own this distinct advantage over the likes of the BBC and C4.

And, whilst this was an event promoting the output of Guardian Films, more and more newspapers (the New York Times, for one) are eager to draw attention to their investment in multimedia journalism and their successes in pursuing it. Their message? Broadcasters beware.

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: videojournalismonline@yahoo.com. 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.