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.

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Can Local Get Vocal?

By Alex Dibble

Can we make any predictions about the future of local TV news using current video trends?

Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s got big plans.

He wants to create ‘Channel 6’ – a terrestrial television option which would provide local news to around 80 different areas in the country.

Everyone within the industry’s keen on the idea. The problem is, they just don’t see it working – financially or editorially.

At the moment the BBC can’t get involved because their presence would suffocate a local media already gasping for breath.

So that leaves commercial organisations to step up to the plate, which would require small businesses in your area to buy advert spots to fund the whole thing. But small businesses don’t have any money.

At a conference on local TV at City University back in November, former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie – who helped Trinity Mirror launch local news network Live TV in 1995 – summed up the general feeling in the room. He said: “The idea of local TV is a complete disaster and anybody going into it is completely nuts.”

When asked if there was any way in which Hunt’s dreams could become reality, he answered that the content would have to be provided by the viewers: citizen journalism, user generated content, people sending in video.

It would look “amateurish” and nobody would want to watch it, but to balance the books that was the only possible avenue.

Is there currently anything that resembles this kind of production?

Well, maybe, but it’s not TV.

Local newspapers are operating on a shoestring budget today, yet many of them still produce video content.

Small papers published by Archant are so underfunded that one photo of an ambulance accompanies every ‘hospital’ story. But even the Islington Gazette found a way to imbed footage of ‘chaos’ at a council meeting.

At the 2009 Newspaper Awards, Cambridge News was commended for its video content, and if there’s a video organism capable of evolving into what Hunt imagines, it’s probably this.

Videos are short – mostly around a minute  – and give viewers a simple overview of what’s going on in the area.

It’s nothing special at all, but provides exactly what Cambridge residents would want it to.

But under current Ofcom guidelines it wouldn’t be allowed on a news broadcast because of it’s promotional slant, and many other videos on their website fall into this category.

For this reason Jeremy Hunt’s got more issues to think through than he initially envisaged.

Another example is the Yorkshire Post.

Again, it’s not rocket science to produce something like this. And, with it not being time-specific (i.e. not needing to be broadcast on the same day it was filmed), it lends itself perfectly for local TV news.

But is it interesting enough? And on a station covering a larger area would it make the editorial cut? Probably not.

It’s hard, then, to disagree with Mr MacKenzie.