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!

A selection of you surveyed!

By Umar Farooq

The results are in. 20 very kind people and video journalism enthusiasts (I’m guessing) took part in my “Online News Video Watchers Survey” published on 13th Feb. The aim was to get to know:

1) Our audience, and…

2) …their viewing habits

The raw data

The facts and figures from the Video Watchers Survey (in their raw form)

So what can we conclude…

A fascinating set of results. From the research, based on the short sample, I think the following findings are interesting.

  • An internet-savvy young audience: 85% are aged between 16-25. 70% watch news content online everyday or 3 to 4 times a week.
  • Video-sharing websites are only a part of your online news video watching experience: Just over half watch under 30% of their news content on video sharing sites. Furthermore, majority of this content comes from broadcast news providers (The majority watch over 70% of their online news content from broadcast companies) which shows that people trust conventional media with their news, even if it’s online.
  • The BBC’s YouTube channel is the most popular among you for news content with 53%. Interestingly, the BBC World News channel has been removed from YouTube. Sky News was chosen by 21%, Al-Jazeera and CNN were tied on 11%. Surprisingly, only one person selected ITN News which has one of the best online news channels.
  • Finally, many of you still prefer watching online news on your PC/Laptop in this day and age of the smart-phones and tablets. 80% choosing PC/Laptop.

A big thank you to all the entrants who took part in this short experiment. I think the results point to habits of a modern-day video journalist. The details are interesting and I shall leave you with them.

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

Thank you!

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.

Next Generation Journalism?

By Emily Craig

First generation phone technology? (Creative Commons licence)

At the beginning of this week, the UK communications regulator Ofcom announced that it would be auctioning off sections of the 4G mobile phone spectrum in 2012. Most mobile phones currently operate using third generation or ‘3G’ technology, allowing users to check their emails and surf the Internet. But it’s easy to become frustrated – 3G coverage is patchy and websites frequently drop their connections. Streaming or uploading video on a 3G phone is a particularly thankless task. So will the new 4G technology liberate video journalists?

When 4G mobile phones arrive on the scene next year, networks will be able to offer an Internet connection that is 25 times faster than the average home broadband. In the US and Germany, the 4G spectrum has already been divided up and the development of next generation phones is continuing apace. The iPhone 4, which boasts two separate cameras, allows you to shoot video in HD at up to 30 frames per second.

So what will next generation technology mean for video journalism? There is certainly the potential for more quality footage to appear online, in the sense that we’ll be looking at higher resolution films. However, it’s less clear what the impact will be on the content of video journalism. In theory, more people will be able to shoot and upload their own videos and it will be easier to live-stream. But will new gadgetry necessarily produce better video journalism?

At one level, it would not be surprising if 4G technology enabled the proliferation of citizen journalism in the UK. Yet citizen journalism is a phenomenon that’s been celebrated most fervently for the role it’s played in the Arab Spring. Would 4G technology make a difference to citizen journalism in these places?

For a start, there’s no sign of 4G technology being introduced in countries like Egypt or Libya. But, even if it did exist, what would be the use of owning a phone capable of uploading HD video if the authorities succeed in blocking access to the Internet (as has happened across the Middle East)? Furthermore, is it logical to expect a country without a free press to be eager to develop 4G technology?

British newspaper journalists observing the Egyptian uprising earlier this year described (not without nostalgia) how they were forced to dictate their articles via satellite phone. When the Internet is down, broadcast journalists can send back their footage via satellite. By contrast, citizen journalists without professional tech support can find themselves in a position where they can’t share what they’ve seen and heard.

There are 5.3 billion mobile phone users in the world and 90% of the global population is in range of a mobile network. But as more countries develop their 4G capabilities, there’s a danger of assuming that improved communications technology will inevitably result in ‘improved’ journalism.

4G technology could enable more varied, more interesting and more immediate video journalism. But occasionally technology fails or is sabotaged – and when it does, it’s important the journalism doesn’t disappear with it. Sometimes there can be no substitute for a professional journalist with a camera.

Monetising The Market


A graphic demonstrating the growth in the video journalism online market (Creative Commons licence)

By Emily Craig

The Internet has opened up huge opportunities for journalism, but it has also exploded our understanding of what journalism is. Now print editors and broadcasters alike are trying to figure out how they can monetise their online operation. The problem? How to get people to pay for what they have up till now been enjoying for free. Advertising is one way of making money. So the question is – can video journalism pay for itself and, beyond that, even turn a profit?

Ad revenue has yet to exploit the online video market

Video journalism of all different types is attracting people online, but it appears that advertisers are not yet willing to bank on it. This means – as a general rule – that online advertising is currently cheaper than the print equivalent.

To put it another way: advertisers don’t yet want to abandon the full-page ad in the national daily for a banner ad around the edge of a video; at least, they’re not going to choose the latter in place of the former. This is despite the fact that it’s much cheaper to advertise online – it’s tens of pounds for an online newspaper ad and thousands of pounds for a print equivalent.

In a discussion about the future of newspapers on Newsnight last month, Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian, claimed that video is becoming more and more important to newspapers. But he also said that the newspaper’s print edition (with a circulation of approximately 270 000) brings in more advertising revenue than guardian.co.uk (boasting more than 2, 250,000 daily users). For broadcasters and newspapers alike, there is still more ad revenue in the ‘old’ media.

But as more and more people opt to visit a newspaper’s website instead of buying its print edition and as the number of online news outlets increases, advertisers might express greater interest. In fact, video journalism presents advertisers with a particular opportunity. Whilst it’s easier for someone reading a website article to scroll past advertising, video can offer advertisers a better chance of securing a captive audience. A pre-roll video advertisement, screened before a video, can’t be skipped. Alternatively, adverts can be embedded around a video – so-called banner ads – and the viewer can’t avoid these adverts without the video disappearing from view.

YouTube earns most of its advertising revenue via these display banners and it claims that 35% of its visitors have purchased something they’ve seen advertised on the site. The likes of YouTube and Ustream also allow their video producers to sell ads around their content.

Video advertising is not without its risks. As Ashkan Karbasfrooshen, who set up video entertainment website WatchMojo, explains, ‘when it comes to ad-supported models, marketers will never feel 100% comfortable advertising alongside user-generated content’. 50% of YouTube videos have been commented on – and nobody seems to be defending the standard of contributions.

So the idea is that advertisers want professional content. And whilst most of YouTube’s videos don’t fit this description, the business of professional journalism is in a position to benefit. The more that newspapers and broadcasters spend on producing interesting, informative and entertaining video content, the more likely it is that advertisers will want to target their audience.

The New York Times offers advertisers the chance to sponsor its ‘latest and most newsworthy’ online videos. Perhaps most importantly, one advertiser is guaranteed 100% SOV (Share of Voice) so their advert will be the only one to appear in front of the viewer. The advertiser’s monthly sponsorship includes a 15 second pre-roll video advert before the  first and fourth videos on nytimes.com. They’re required to produce more than one version of an advert, so the same adverts will not appear back to back.

With this approach The New York Times recognises that its online readers do not expect to be exposed to a barrage of competing adverts when they view video content. But in this case, less can mean more. With fewer adverts, there is less danger of the viewer becoming bored and distracted. The thinking is that the discerning consumer of high-quality video content is a potentially valuable customer – the typical NYT reader is educated, well-travelled and wealthy. A case in point, the car company Jaguar is currently providing adverts for video.nytimes.com.

Newspapers and broadcasters are in a strong position to monetise online video, as long as advertisers are assured that they’re attaching their brand to professional content. But at a time when most newspapers (and some broadcasters) are facing an uncertain future, crippled by financial losses, how many will take the risk and spend money to make money?