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.

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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.

“A fantastic tool for telling really short stories” – Tom Chown

By Umar Farooq

Last week, I met up with Tom Chown (@DigiTomTV), a BBC-trained freelance video journalist with 13 years of experience in the industry. Tom’s career is a great story in itself which has seen him spend 5 years at the BBC, before working on an Online TV channel (Ten Alps IPTV) and freelancing for several news agencies (PA, AFP). He’s even traveled to the North Pole to produce a series of features for BBC News 24 (beat that!).

Tom’s observations are fascinating because he started out back in the early 2000’s, a time when the internet was reletively new. Since then, he has seen it develop and utilised it as a powerful tool for video journalists. He is, in his own description, a “self-shooting journalist” and looking at his work, a pretty good one. Here’s the interview.

A quote that stands out from the from Tom is his description of video journalism online as “a fantastic tool for telling really short stories.” I think the key word is ‘short’ and Tom is spot on in his elaboration that “people are searching for short bite-size bits of content.” These words reflect the biggest advantage of video journalism online, flexibility, allowing producers and broadcasters to create content solely for the ‘online’ audience.

There are, in my view, two ways in which content is being made for a definitive audience.

All in all, the web is great for implementing the classic business model of “doing more with less” and for any enthusiastic video journalist, it’s a brilliant platform to build a profile. Tom Chown’s wise words highlight the impact of the web on video journalism. It’s all about flexibility and opportunities.

* The links in this post can be accessed and shared on the VJO delicious page.

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.

You Chose the News- Skynews.com TV

By Phil Georgiadis

The blurring boundaries between TV news and online journalism- a new phenomenon which has only taken off in the past year or so? Maybe not.

Between 2007 and 2010 Sky News aired a half hour long evening programme called ‘SkyNews.com’, presented by the brilliant Martin Stanford, which brought the web’s agenda onto our TV’s for the first time.

As the channel proudly proclaimed, it was a groundbreaking programme, which ‘set out to change the shape of television news by integrating the web and TV’. Sky and Stanford realised that web content worked well on TV, and also that streaming TV content online offered access to a wider audience.

It won a prestigious Royal Television Society gong in 2008 for innovation, with the judges praising it because “it lets the public rather than the news editor set the agenda.”

Well before it was the accepted norm for channels to stream their content live online it simulcast on TV and on the Web, and even offered exclusive content for web viewers while the main TV channel was off on advert breaks.

The show would track topics which were ‘trending’ across the web, and offer a rundown of the day’s viral videos, taken from sites such as Youtube. It also took a serious journalistic interest in the internet, and how it was increasingly shaping the news agenda.

It created a ‘user-generated agenda’ well ahead of its time, and is missed.

Take a look at the clips below to get an idea of how the show worked:

Follow The Money

the FT

Financial newspapers are investing in online video journalism (Emily Craig)

By Emily Craig

It’s becoming more and more evident that the big broadcasters and their alter-egos, the solo vloggers, aren’t the only ones investing time and money in online video content. Many in the media have noticed that newspapers such as The Guardian and the New York Times have been building increasingly sophisticated multimedia platforms over the past few years. But there’s now a new player in the market as the financial dailies get involved in creating and sharing video content.

So why are financial newspapers in a category of their own? Why is their interest in online video journalism more surprising?

This question can, perversely, be answered with a question – would we expect video journalism to add anything to business reportage? For a medium that relies on creating a visual impact, how it is that footage of brokers and traders staring at computer screens in strip-lit offices has the potential to make an interesting or arresting piece of video journalism?

Admittedly, the likes of the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times do not confine themselves to only reporting financial news, but it’s certainly the main focus (and the most profitable part) of their output.

Now the websites of both newspapers are experimenting with the video format – and, apparently, making money out of it too. Perhaps crucially, each newspaper’s website is ring-fenced by a paywall. Their readers are paying for expert information, be it stock tips or expert analysis of the market.

And this means that their video journalism doesn’t have to be ground-breaking or particularly original – they have a captive audience, who come to their website for niche or ‘exclusive’ content, regardless of the form in which it is delivered.

But how exactly have these newspapers made a success out of the online video format? The Wall Street Journal now has 10 million streams per month of its latest videos, with more than 20 people working to produce up to 5 videos per day. Each video is bracketed by an advertisement, normally of about 15 seconds. The ‘shows’ normally come in at under 10 minutes, with some less than a minute in length, and all of them are filmed live.

We’re not talking cable television production values. Against a prosaic corporate-HQ-type backdrop, we hear live from correspondents in the newspaper’s other bureaus (another corporate-HQ-type backdrop…). Any newsworthy footage is usually provided by an agency like Associated Press or Reuters, with stills also used as wallpaper for a voicer from one of the newspaper’s journalists.

So far, not so inventive. But the style of the video ‘broadcasts’ has been compared to that of the cable TV bulletin in the US. With American networks continuing to produce programs that are more opinion-focused and less news-based, the Wall Street Journal could be onto something with its daily briefings at 8.30am and 4pm.

Video journalism online could also be a new source of commercial revenue. Advertisers are willing to pay more for a premium video slot once they’ve seen the impressive CPM (cost per thousand impressions) figures. It might even be that journalism is following the money, rather than the other way around – although that’s a difficult one to prove.

In contrast to the Wall Street Journal’s bulletin-style analysis, the Financial Times is not looking to reproduce an existing TV format. This arguably means it can afford to be a little more creative with its video output, since it’s looking to produce stand-alone ‘complimentary’ features.

However, for both newspapers at this stage, you’re left with the impression that filming a conference or interviewing a talking head is their idea of video journalism. Neither newspaper has been driven to experiment with video as a way of widening its audience or broadening its appeal.

There’s no critical need for either of these publications to be creative with presentation when they can afford to rely on the nature of their content to attract subscribers.

But, having been offered the chance to boost commercial revenue on the cheap, it’s hardly surprising that these newspapers are capable of identifying a shrewd investment. They’ve woken up to the trend, and it seems like they’re cashing in on it.