Video Journalism Online (2011)

Online video journalism//bridging platforms//the future for video streaming//the Latin American proficiency at using video

The future of video journalism online (Part 1)

By VideoJournalismOnline

What’s in store for online video journalism? It’s a question we’ve had in mind as we’ve researched and written about the topic.

So here Alex Dibble asks Ross Cullen, Emily Craig and Toby Coaker for their predictions about the future of VJO:

On the Move Online

By Ross Cullen

The future of video in online journalism should be secure if journalists look to the developing world.

I recently attended a panel discussion on ‘Latin America and the British Press’ at Canning House. The panellists agreed on four significant points:

1) Newspaper readership in the UK is falling

2) UK newspaper coverage of Latin America is falling

3) Views of online versions of newspapers (with their video content that is obviously missing from the print copies) were growing, both in Latin America and the UK.

4) Radio audiences are also dropping; it was noted that the BBC had recently ceased its Spanish-language radio broadcasts for the region.

These problems afflict both the UK and overseas and I suggested one way news providers could adapt to the changing journalistic environment was by exploring the world of online video. There is no doubt that the biggest growth area in journalism is online and of that online content, it is the moving, interactive items that will engage the future generations.

In the UK, but especially in developing countries such as those in Latin America, South East Asia and some parts of Africa, the young are mobile in two important senses.

Firstly, the use of mobile phones in emerging economies is increasing, particularly smartphones, which offer users the chance to surf the web and also carry video-capturing and video-viewing capabilities.

Secondly, the young are on the move. They travel more than their parents and they are connected in a totally different way from how previous generations were. They maintain international links through their mobile phones and social media sites. They Skype; they send picture text-messages; they share and discuss videos online.

If news providers in the UK and in these developing regions want to hold onto their consumers, then they need to follow them online, and they need to do so with video content that will engage a new generation in the medium.

Cut, Paste, Play

By Ross Cullen

The rise in use of video by both professional journalists and citizen journalists has called for an increase in online portals to aid the editing and storing of such videos.

You grab your smartphone or high-powered pocket camera and go. You shoot; you capture; you record. You have a lot of footage that needs tidying up before, finally, you can tell the story. Where do you go?

To follow the upward trend in use of video and the posting of videos online, there has been a rise in the number and capabilities of online video editing websites.

As this is a fast flowing and developing medium, editing-software designers have also had to adapt to the changes. There are many of these sites and some of them rival each other directly with what they can offer.

Both A-Frame (website shown above) and Pixorial have realised that video journalists need somewhere to store their work online, without having to use a default mass-content provider such as YouTube. There is a need for websites that have a more professional and editorial feel than YouTube, which can be seen, at times, as a multinational giant overlooking the small, corner shop-keeper.

For pure, simple editing, many use YouTube’s software, (although that can feel a little raw), Adobe’s ‘Premiere Express’ and JayCut (website shown above).

There are also sites like photobucket (website shown below) which strive to promote the simplicity and pleasure of photo and video creating and sharing.  On the other hand, other sites such as Kaltura, try to show off how their technical, unique editing platforms can help you.

However, the danger for these websites is that they can be squeezed for space in a growing and changing market, of which, as noted above, YouTube is the dominant power.

The Internet is now the base for video journalism, with the days of shelves of tapes and film reels long gone. Companies are moving their bases online as well, and offering the range of adaptable services that such a moveable medium demands.


VJO at the Broadcast Video Expo 2011 – Video on the move

By Ross Cullen

How are video streaming companies reacting to the changeability of the medium?

In two previous blogposts, (VJO at the Broadcast Expo 2011, 07/03/11 and VJO at the Broadcast Expo 2011 – Women and Video, 11/03/11), the videojournalismonline team has explored the views of different participants in the Broadcast Video Expo 2011, held at Earl’s Court in February.

Here, in the third blogpost from the exhibition, we spoke to a representative from the technical side of the industry. ViewCast provides platforms for live video streaming to mobile phones, the Internet and TV channels.

Peter Still, Managing Director, ViewCast UK

Mr Still highlighted different areas in the market that his company is attempting to fill. One major point he underlined was journalists’ need to be able to broadcast clearly and smoothly from the field. He said that at times using satellite connectivity results in poor quality audio and video and outlined the kind of measures and developments that his company is taking to combat these hiccoughs.

Portability is important, but you do not want to compromise on audio-visual quality. (Incidentally, as he was saying this, we were confronting that exact quandary: the BlackBerry providing immediacy but a loss of capturing quality.) Mr Still also remarked that developments by his company were aiding reporters in the field to stream their footage live directly onto the Internet.

Moreover, Mr Still pointed out the need for this sort of reliable, portable video servers because of the increase of correspondents themselves leading the news coverage from a live location, as opposed to an anchor in the studio.

Matt Frei regularly performs this role for the BBC:

Finally, although not as bad as the video quality problems we encountered during the last blogpost from the Expo, there were still some audio issues with the interview, owing to the limitations of the BlackBerry recording device.


VJO at the Broadcast Video Expo 2011 – Women and Video

By Ross Cullen

What more can women do to increase their online presence?

I attended the Broadcast Video Expo recently with other videojournalismonline colleagues. We ensured that we captured the interviews on mobile devices, to try to explore the immediacy and portability of the video medium. However, this was not without problems, as will be discussed later on in the post. You can view the first blogpost from this exhibition here – VJO at the Broadcast Video Expo 2011, 07/03/11.

The event was mainly focussed on the technical side of the industry and in my next blogpost, I will look at an interview we conducted with a representative from that area.

But to investigate the role that women have and could have in the world of online we visited Women in Film and Television. According to their website, “Women in Film & TV is the premier membership organisation for women working in creative media in the UK, and part of an international network of over 10,000 women worldwide.”

Here is Siobhan Pridgeon, Awards and Events Producer, Women in Film and Television.

The most significant points that Ms Pridgeon raised were:

1) The importance of women using the Internet as a video medium to promote themselves, through showreels, for example

2) The need for women to recognise that the Internet is a global brand and a free, reactive, marketing medium

3) The online world can be a less scary place to make yourself known than proactively making person-to-person contact

Technically, as you can see, the choice to use a Blackberry to capture the footage raises contradictory points. On one hand, using the camera on a phone allows you to start and stop filming immediately, wherever you are. But on the other hand, the footage is not of the highest quality and the lack of an external microphone diminishes the standard of the sound. Yet, it is not practical to carry expensive and heavy recording equipment with you at all times and for this reason one has to rely on the phone to provide immediate platforms for on-the-go video capturing.


What’s the Shorthand for ‘Video’?

By Ross Cullen

Trainee journalists are constantly reminded of the need to bridge the different media and be cross-platform reporters. But what of those who have already broken into the industry? How do they adapt?

Budding hacks are well aware of the importance of starting their career with established blogs, Twitter accounts and audio and visual editing skills, as well as the ability to write for online and printed media. They are not alone; the reporters ahead of them on the career path have also recognised that they have to change with the times. How are they doing it?

Staff at the Reading Post, in Berkshire, have turned their hands to online video journalism. Long gone are the days when a newspaper journalist only had to be a fast shorthander; now there is a need for video skills. The paper’s decision to launch a daily online video news bulletin illustrates a few different things:

1) An awareness that newsprint readership is diminishing and/or moving to the online versions of the publications. The editors need to hang onto their readers and interactivity is a great way of doing so.

2) The public love video. Citizen journalism is on the rise and, as previously discussed on this blog, broadcast media have already built whole pages on their online presences dedicated to video. Newspapers have to follow suit.

3) Time is of the essence. People are in a rush. Understanding that they might not have hours to sit down and read the paper cover-to-cover, the editors can still hold onto loyal readers as they visit the Post’s homepage by offering them quick, direct news in a free, 60-second video.

The Post uploads their daily video at lunchtime, giving online readers updated news during their midday breaks. As the media world changes around them, reporters need to be ahead of the game (and their competitors) in order to remain relevant and exciting. For a newspaper, enlisting the help of video on their webpages is a relatively easy and effective way of expanding their reach.

The margins of the different media are blurring. Local news services have to elbow and barge their way to the front of the public’s minds to continue to be noticed. The major TV channels tapped into video long ago. Online streaming is now clearly not solely the preserve of broadcasters.


It’s A Numbers Game

By Ross Cullen

The Financial Times and The Economist use their online video content to engage and exploit the universal interest in ‘people’ and ‘celebrities’

Last month, Emily Craig gave an in-depth look at the Wall Street Journal and the idea of paywalls on financial newspapers’ websites. In this post, we pick up on the same topic, but with a focus on the ‘personality-orientated’ use of video in the two major British financial publications.

Even hardened economists need a break from fiscal data and share indexes at some point. The FT has recognised this and come up with a clever way of introducing interviews into its coverage without losing its serious focus. It understands the interest that its readers have in the leading public figures from their financial world but does not want to expand that coverage into its print edition. As a result, the newspaper normally reserves interviews and profiles of public figures for its online video content.

The Economist also recognises the clamour for public interaction with political and business personae and has expanded its online video operations to facilitate expansion into this area. Moreover, just like the FT, it does not want to compromise its print versions with lots of magazine-style feature interviews.

By doing this, both publications can use their printed versions to deliver economic analysis and political reports whilst not neglecting the importance of interactive content. There are three main points that they have recognised:

1) Video is a key component of the online face of any printed publications

2) There is an interest amongst their readerships for profiles and interviews with leading people in the financial and business fields

3) The best medium for offering these profiles and engagements with important figures is through online video content

Interestingly, and as we have seen before, journalists are increasingly having to spread out from their traditional medium in order to maintain that vivacity and freshness which landed them their jobs in the first place. As in other publications, print journalists from the FT and The Economist are now presenting video content as well as writing print copy.

Finally, and arguably most significantly, putting such videos online facilitates reader and/or viewer interaction in a way which is absent from the newspaper. Put crudely, talking at the pages in your hand does not work; you have to use the internet to encourage reaction, comment, linking and debate from your readership. Uploading video interviews of interesting people is an intelligent and simple way to do this.


I Came, I Saw, I Watched Again Online

Broadcast media focus their main efforts on live broadcasts but the role of video is growing.

Consider calling a correspondent in rural Bangladesh – normally France 24’s reporter would appear via a videophone link.  What about making contact with a person affected by, for example, flooding in Australia? Sky News simply used Skype and conducted a video call with a local journalist. These two examples show how video is an indispensable tool to connect with faraway contacts during live broadcasts.

All major television channels’ homepages now have a separate section dedicated to video. There are many reasons for this: to facilitate visitors to the site looking purely for video; to showcase specific clips from previous broadcast content; and to offer users extra video content that may not have been broadcast or seen, for example extended highlights of an interview of which only a short excerpt was used on TV.

Users love watching content but the nature of today’s working environment means that few have the time to sit down and consume TV for long periods of time. This is one of the reasons networks have regular updates and repeat headlines (albeit edited and re-written) – the audience changes every half-hour. On the way to work, on the train or the bus, those users who watched TV news for 30 minutes with their breakfast can watch a longer video package on the mobile versions of channels’ websites.

And when they are back at a computer they can return either to watching a live stream of the channel itself or shorter videos on specific items from the homepage.

Video has immediacy about it and the broadcast media appreciate that because, after all, their business is based on breaking news, constant updates and beating rivals to scoops the minute they occur. Two or three-minute updates in video format are popular with the BBC and Sky, offering users the news quickly without having to scroll through lots of different pages or watch an entire televised bulletin.

Finally, the fact that users can upload their own content adds a feeling of interactivity and openness that shows the public that they can create the news as well – not just watch it. And if they miss it, they can watch the news again and again (and their own clips) through the video portals on the channels websites.


Log On to Latin America and Watch

By Ross Cullen

How do you explain the Latin American proficiency at using video as an online medium?

Gordon Brown and David Cameron have both tried to tap into YouTube as a way of engaging a new range of supporters. Yet it is only really around election time that there is any focus on their efforts.

The story is different in Latin America. Felipe Calderon, the Mexican president, has addressed the nation many times, most recently as a plea to bear with his policy towards the drugs gangs, and he knows that the televised content would be uploaded in video format online immediately.

After his televised addresses, the soap operas come back on and television audiences move on. But by not trying to stop his speeches appearing online in videos he ensures that the content is viewed many more times over an infinite time period. Online broadcasting is a free-flowing medium allowing users to engage with content as and when they want, without time restrictions.

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan premier, has fine-tuned this technique. He has a popular Twitter account (@chavezcandanga), just like Calderon (@FelipeCalderon). He has a regular television show ‘Alo Presidente’. His is an online, modern socialism that is developed through online media, particularly edited packages from television appearances published online in video format, through which he likes to grandstand and promote his bombastic, controversial diplomatic opinions. And he knows that this political theatre will be enshrined online.

At the other end of the continent, the Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner is another prolific exploiter of the video medium and Twitter user (@CFKArgentina). She knows that a speech delivered looking straight into the camera speaks directly to the online community and has her own YouTube account.

The Latin American politicians have recognised that there is constant global traffic online. They understand the transience of television and the breadth and openness of video content when it is viewed online. Viewers (and potential voters) do not have to tune in to a certain channel at a specified time to watch. They can view on the move; they can view 6 months later. They can also listen to the content and browse other websites while the content plays out.

The mobile and fast-growing market of Latin America welcomes forward-thinking developments with which it can engage. The politicians have seen this and adopted video online as a continuous and open platform to project their politics and they continue to adapt as the medium itself changes.

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