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.

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?