Monthly Archives: May 2006

What works in online video news?

[Keyword: ]. A question that desperately needs asking as print operations rush to produce their own online video bulletins – and answered at length at OJR. The rub is, those used to reporting stories for print may have to re-think their news priorities, as some things simply work better in pictures. Here’s some quotes:

“Media executives say yes, it’s true that you can, for the most part, map the popularity of online video to what’s popular on broadcast television. Live and late breaking coverage, celebrities and sex, and innately visual stories work very well.

“Bart Feder, CEO of The FeedRoom, says that visual stories in particular are the ones that tend to be the most viral types of video. His company helps other companies and news organizations, including the New York Times and BusinessWeek, publish and monitor their online video.

“…evergreen content, or videos that aren’t pegged to a specific news event, can continue to draw traffic well beyond its air date. Over time, the residual interest can rack up large traffic numbers.

“Broadcasters have also found success with exclusive, in-depth content. The Associated Press, which syndicates its video to about 1200 sites, says they’ve drawn traffic with interviews.

“Jim Kathman, product manager for the AP’s online video network, said that a segment that summarizes the major news events of the day, called “One-Minute World,” has started to do very well.”

Lincoln Today goes online-only

[Keyword: ]. Hold the Front Page reports on Lincoln Today’s relaunch as an “online-only, standalone project, in a move that differentiates it from Lincolnshire Newspapers’ print editions in the city. … The team is accepting submissions of both news and pictures from their readers both by email and by text message.”

‘Regulate the Internet’ vagueness from PCC

[Keyword: ]. In one of the vaguest quotes I’ve seen in a long while, Press Complaints Commission chairman Sir Christopher Meyer is quoted as saying: “My personal view is that this new and exciting area [the internet?] cannot be left in a regulatory vacuum. To the contrary, it cries out for the sound principles of self-regulation. I am pleased to report that there has been constructive dialogue between the industry and the PCC about this, the results of which will become clear before too long. I am optimistic about the PCC’s ability to rise to this challenge.”

So how is he going to regulate the internet? Or is he talking about online newspapers only, in which case they already answer to the PCC. And does he realise that this “new and exciting area” of online newspapers has been in existence for over a decade?

Reflections on the Guardian’s blog experiment

[Keyword: ]. You can read Georgina Henry’s experiences of managing Comment is free at,,1784903,00.html. Key quote:

“The answer for most media companies developing blogs (although no one is
doing anything quite like Comment is free) is to pre-moderate comments. We have
deliberately decided against that, only requiring commenters to register,
because we want to keep the conversation as free-flowing as possible. So what to

“Stung by one particularly brutal comment on a piece by a young Muslim
woman we had recruited to blog, I did what Emily Bell, editor of Guardian
Unlimited, advised and entered the fray myself. Why, I asked in an end-of-the-
week post, was it necessary for commenters to personally abuse those with whom
they disagreed? Why did so many resort to swearing to make their point? Would
they behave like this if they weren’t hiding behind the anonymity of their
screen names?”

Citizen journalism site

[Keyword: ]. Here’s a site I wasn’t aware of before a letter published in the latest Press Gazette:, a citizen journalism website which frustratingly doesn’t include an About Us page. There is, however, an FAQ page, and some cursory exploration uncovers a surprisingly diverse site, taking in columns, community news, world news, and everything inbetween.

It’s not clear what sort of business model the site is running on, or who the target market is, but it’s interesting to see the cit. journo experiment in the UK, and it’ll be worth watching to see how it progresses…

Is ‘convergence’ the next media disaster?

[Keyword: ]. Esward Wasserman writes about the dangers of companies using online journalism and its associated trend, convergence, as an excuse to increase production, “degrading the working conditions of journalists and diverting energies away from the kind of richly detailed, thoughtful reporting that exemplifies the best in journalism.”

“It’s the insertion,” he argues, “of the Internet’s round-the-clock publishing cycle that threatens the greatest harm to the quality of news and information we receive.”

Perhaps – but would that round-the-clock publishing cycle be so threatening if sufficient production staff were allocated to ensure quality? How do 24-hour TV news channels manage the same? And if you accept that argument, does not the daily publishing cycle of most newspapers also ‘threaten’ quality? Does it make a weekly newspaper better quality? Or a monthly magazine?

Speed certainly does threaten quality – many journalists will tell you how the pressure to publish and fill pages results in shortcuts being taken, but is this due to speed itself, or the lack of training to cope with that speed (editing practices), and the lack of staff to produce enough to fill that space?

PS: Shame on Miami Herald for not making their text resizable and so accessible to those with limited vision.

Citizen journalism? Or just people taking pictures?

[Keyword: ]. The Press Gazette’s Citizen Journalism awards seem to be taking a narrow view of what the genre means. “Only still pictures and/or video files will be considered”, say the entry criteria with the upshot that the very best of citizen journalism – independent reporting, following up of sources, and expert analysis, gets overlooked.

I will refrain from the cynical analysis that this is something to do with Nokia’s sponsorship and instead suggest this is more about how citizen journalism is focused on by the established media: as a source of material rather than a form of journalism outside of commercial considerations.

You can also find comment at Poynter.

‘We Media’ conference really about ‘them’

[Keyword: ]. Martin Stabe gives a good summary of the We Media conference, asking: “Where were the “we” in the brave new We Media? Just one blogger — 7 July survivor and political blogger Rachel North — appeared on stage on the first day. The £450 delegate fee hardly encouraged participation by citizen journalists.”

He goes on to say:

“Anyone who has taken more than a passing interest in the emergence of participatory media over the past five years or so will not have heard anything
Earth-shattering at the We Media forum.

“In fact, most of the people in attendance at We Media could have saved the fee — simply by downloading and re-reading We Media, the now-seminal paper by Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis that was commissioned for the first We Media conference.”

Suw Charman, “executive director of the Open Rights Group, blogger at Strange Attractor, and one of the “online curators” tasked with tracking the online coverage of the conference”, was reported as saying: “How can you have a conference about citizen journalism without any citizen journalists speaking?”

“You can’t buy a community and then just exploit it. Citizen journalism is not
simply a matter of ‘Oh, we’ve got a few comments, we’ve got a few photographs of
Buncefield’ — this is the first tiny step to true participatory media, but you
need to get into the real nitty-gritty of what makes communities tick and why
they’re doing what they’re doing. Why are they sending photographs in? Is it
just that they want the warm glow of satisfaction that their photo got published
by the Beeb, or are there deeper social needs that participatory journalism
satisfies? Until they understand that, they are going to screw up.”

Meanwhile, over at Rebuilding Media, Dorian Benkoil makes some constructive suggestions on how the conference might better achieve its aims of being inclusive:

  • Participation via low-end tech
  • Have the IRC or whatever chat mechanism scrolling live behind folks, and people at the conference can see the conversation multi-dimensionally?
  • Experiment with seating arrangements
  • Have folks from governments speaking
  • Allow questions from outside the room