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.

 


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.

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!

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.

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.

VJO chats to… Broadcast Magazine’s Michael Rosser

Michael Rosser (Courtesy of BroadcastNow.co.uk)

By Toby Coaker

This week VJO spoke to Michael Rosser – Web Editor at ‘Broadcast’ magazine. Michael holds responsibility for the operation of Broadcastnow.co.uk, managing the daily news content and overall strategy for the site. He has been in the job since 2007.

Trying to paint the ‘big picture’ of VJO, we asked him the key questions:

Michael, how well are broadcast institutions making use of online video journalism?

The BBC are leading the way with this as always. All you have to do is look at how they’ve approached the recent earthquake in Japan – on the web page you’ve been able to find the latest  reports, interviews and other video from the ground. They’ve also been running a live stream as well as their news channel. I think this combination of streaming what is being broadcast digitally via cable and satellite, as well as furnishing users with pre-packaged reports – that is why the BBC is the strongest. ITV – not so much. Something they have significant problems with is ITV Player, where they have still got technical speed bumps to overcome there. All you have to do is go on Twitter and type in ITV Player and you’d find an absolute litany of complaints and criticism for this piece of technology. As devices such as iphones and ipads become more widely used, video online from major broadcasters is going to become increasingly important – it’s just a natural progression – but, again, it’s clearly the BBC that are leading the way with this.

How much does citizen journalism fit in to the online broadcasting market?

Hugely. I think that in general it’s going to be professionally produced content that will find it’s way on to major broadcast news sites. But for major incidents, citizen journalism has become an increasingly useful tool – from the 7/7 bombings, when citizen video journalism came to the fore for the first time, to again what we’re seeing in Japan with people shooting the most significant raw footage, because they are there first. This can be packaged together professionally with a voiceover. A combination of the two provides the most compelling footage.

Are these new forms of online video journalism a threat to the big broadcasting corporations?

At the moment, there is no significant threat to the major news organisations. It’s fair to say that, as technology improves so that anybody can have a camera that can shoot HD footage, and as people become savvier to how you shoot and present this sort of footage then, sure, there is an emerging sub-culture of video news outside of the major organisations. But traditional broadcasters have the resource to be able to cover everything. It’s the big boys that have got seemingly bottomless pockets; that can send their journalists around the world; that can buy in the library footage; that can attend the court cases or the inquests… They also have the proper training, the proper skills. It’s very easy to look unprofessional on camera. Just one tiny slip and that completely negates your professionalism. You only have to look at how a major news broadcaster could slip up on one shot and suddenly its all over youtube and everyone’s tweeted about it. Citizen journalism provides a service, but a cheap one in comparison.

Is the trend for online multi-platform journalism diminishing the role of broadcasters?

News brands have to move towards a multi-platform approach as print continues to decline. And they have done. While its not at a level that an organisation like the BBC can provide, it is at a strong level. But, for something like The Telegraph or The Times, their core product remains the newspaper. Times are changing and who knows how things will change. Yet do I think that Telegraph TV will eventually provide a rival service to BBC News? No. What The Telegrah’s core offering could be, going forward, is the Internet. It’s a newspaper still, its a source of news. But thinking about PDAs and apps… these could become the primary way in which their content is consumed.

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 TheBusinessDesk.tv

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: videojournalismonline@yahoo.com.

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.