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.

 


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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.

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.

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.

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.

“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.