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.

Local News – The Future

screenshot courtesy of Ledger Live

We’re all familiar with a newspaper’s ‘comment’ section. Or, as some of them like to call it, their ‘opinion’.

These have been stalwarts of print journalism for many years. But, as Toby Coaker outlined for videojournalismonline back in January, The Times is the only UK based paper to transfer this type of journalism onto the web in video format.

In the States things are a bit different – one example of local political opinion transforming into online video is Ledger Live, from New Jersey’s The Star-Ledger.

Here Brian Donohue gives an often sarcastic/satirical take on the affairs of local government.

A good example is this not too complimentary assessment of Govenor Christie’s selective economic policy.

How does this relate to the UK?

Donohue’s producing something that doesn’t really exist in the UK, because national broadcasters (the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky) have to be impartial and national newspapers just haven’t got on board with the idea behind Ledger Live.

The Future

David Cameron’s been a champion of local government since his time in opposition.

As Prime Minister he’s devolving power and says he wants to create more vibrancy in local politics – to get people interested in the affairs of their local councils as part of his ‘Big Society’.

And Jeremy Hunt’s plans for local TV news slip nicely into line with this ideal.

But if the whole plan works and political activism flourishes once again in the boroughs and constituencies of the UK, you can bet that intense frustration will be kindled in the general public when it comes to local TV news.

Local output’s required to be impartial too. As a result Council failure won’t be reported with the angst needed to reflect the voters’ views.

In this political climate there’ll be an opportunity for partial ‘comment’ or ‘opinion’, and the websites of local newspapers will be the platform capable of supporting such a development.

Could they afford it?

On one hand it’s unhelpful to draw comparisons between state newspapers in the USA and their British ‘equivalents’ because New Jersey, for example, has a population of about 9 million and the Star-Ledger’s circulation is about 220,000.

Each UK constituency has an electorate about 66% smaller than the Star-Ledger’s readership, and local papers would reach dramatically less than that.

But print journalism’s suffering in the US in the same way it is here.

Sponsoring online video is now an option – adverts screened prior to the content beginning – and could bring in valuable revenue.

And if Ledger Live shows us something else about the future, it’s that you only need basic equipment to bring politics alive for the next media generation.

Here’s The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank proving this very point. Can you imagine a similar video poking fun at 4 or 5 candidates in Garston and Halewood?

You Direct the News – Straight From Your iPad

By Phil Georgiadis

Later this week Sky News is launching a new service- ‘Sky News for iPad’, a new take on its existing iPad app. Many news providers have been capitalising on the ever increasing smartphone and tablet market, offering what are essentially paired down versions of their online content.

However, Sky News promises something different with their service for the iPad. They claim that it will offer ‘an entirely new way’ of delivering news events- allowing users to ‘decide what they watch and how they watch it’.

Sky is well known for pushing the boundaries and trying to innovate at every step, so what does this new app mean for online video journalism? Details on Sky’s app are still sketchy, and essentially are confined to this intriguing promo video.

The app is out on March 17th, and until then we can only speculate, but judging from the video it does seem as though it will go some way to putting the online viewing experience into the user’s hands. This raises the fascinating idea of taking editorial judgments out of the news provider’s control. Instead the user picks and chooses which video to watch and when- becoming an amateur vision mixer.

Sky have form on this, their Sky News Active service, which has since been paired down, used to offer eight screens of video content for the viewer to flick between. This seems to be an advanced version, using the touch screen versatility of the iPad to create a polished and intuitive app that crucially puts the online video journalism experience firmly in the hands of the user.

Come back on March 17th for a review of the app, and to find out whether it lives up to the hype.

Modern Media’s Multitask Task

By Alex Dibble

Doing the broadcast splits is too big a stretch for some

Traditional news media’s being forced to branch out. As the amount of news content consumed online increases, both newspapers and television news departments are adapting and taking their material onto a new stage.

The problem for newspapers is they’re having to do something that wasn’t in their job description until ten years ago – producing video for their websites.

But if a major demand of the internet viewer is video content surely TV channels are laughing when it comes to online supplements?

Not so.

The problem for TV is similar, yet (crucially) different. Channel 4 and ITV have, like the rest, produced news websites to accompany their television output.

But ITV News doesn’t have a huge budget – it’s around the £35m mark. That pot used to fund just its TV service, but now has to pay for the website as well.

It’s not a big surprise, then, that the ITV News website is relatively poor. More than this, the website’s video content is lifted straight from the main television broadcasts. In the process of transferring news from one medium to another, nothing changes in the way it’s presented.

Contrast that to the BBC, who’s budget’s in another stratosphere. Not only is their news website vast, it offers an alternative method for viewers to consume content – it’s not just a re-hash of BBC News at 6, for example .

Stories (almost always) appear in written form (despite the fact that the BBC has never been a newspaper), and these articles are supplemented with video (Paul Bradshaw calls this the ‘Daily Prophet approach‘ after the newspaper in Harry Potter).

The two aspects combine to produce a news experience that reflects the unique demands of the internet as a new medium.

Channel 4’s online offering seems to find some sort of middle ground. No editing’s done on TV packages before they’re uploaded, but video’s still accessorised with written content.

Expert Opinion

VJO asked award winning video journalist David Dunkley Gyimah why the multitask task is proving such a challenge.

“The relationship between video content and online news output is such a recent development that broadcast media are learning an awful lot very quickly.”

For Gyimah though, the key is maneuverability:

“You want to watch news, get directed to somewhere else that contextualises what you’ve just seen, and then come back.”

“The nearest thing we’re getting to this at the moment is PBS in the States. They imbed video in a way that facilitates wider consumption.”

Organisations like ITV literally can’t afford to experiment in this field – their funding is to produce television.

The “newbies”, as Gyimah calls them, can play with the platform because that’s the market they’ve entered. Their principle objective is to master it.

Paul Bradshaw agrees, and offers Rocketboom as an example of how it looks in practice. A new kid on the block can grapple with online video journalism without the baggage of a print or broadcast history.

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:

Online Media’s All-Seeing Eye

By Alex Dibble

For news websites citizen journalism is now a widely used source of online content.

In fact, it’s so widely used that we as consumers often don’t notice we’re watching it, unless the video is of noticeably poor quality, or unless the footage is very obviously being shot in a rushed or unplanned manner.

A very good example is this video, taken by motorists on the A1(M) in January 2010.

Without the footage, the incident didn’t even make the local news. Two months later the video was uploaded onto YouTube, the story became a national item and it was taken up by news media across the country.

This particular video nicely illustrates one of the questions we must pose when defining citizen journalism. What’s the difference between an eye-witness and a citizen journalist?

Does anyone and everyone become a citizen journalist merely because they own a phone?

It’s important to appreciate that as a crucial element of user generated news content, citizen journalism is produced by people who aren’t journalists by trade. Instead, they just happen to be in the right place at the right time.

For this reason the motorway footage just mentioned is a perfect example, because only a handful of people (those also on the A1(M) at the time) could have captured the event taking place. A professional journalist could never have been there – it was statistically improbable and logistically impossible.

However, had a professional journalist been there, they would have chosen to report on such a remarkable event. And this is the point: citizen journalism doesn’t create stories – stories create themselves. But citizen journalism provides a way for stories that wouldn’t otherwise make the news to do just that.

Citizen journalism also provides news media with a source of content as wide and deep as the population itself – a reach that would be impossible to possess if the tools of modern technology did not incorporate Joe Bloggs into the media realm as a contributor.

Suddenly a phone (while not turning everyone into citizen journalists) means that an event which happened in front of just a few, can be distributed to a few million. As soon as it’s uploaded online it’s there to stay and news media reaps the benefits.