Monthly Archives: October 2006

Analysis: video journalism is the easy option

This was originally published on the Blogger-hosted version of this blog. 

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I find it disappointing that as newspapers rush to embrace the online medium, the one recurring theme is ‘video journalism’. The Telegraph’s move to a new multimedia hub will involve intensive training in video production for print journalists, and the newspaper’s Executive Editor (Pictures) sees the future of the editorial photographer’s trade as being video (a perspective echoed by the Washington Post); The Guardian have recently announced that original video from the group’s production company, Guardian Films, will be edited for use on the web; The Times are sourcing video news from ITN; and Vogue, among many other magazines (including Stuff), are launching their own TV channel. Even The Sun now has a video version of Deirdre’s Photo Casebook.

Now Trinity Mirror is reported to be planning to increase the numbers of video journalists working across its regional titles as it relaunches its websites. Curiously, Trinity’s editorial director is quoted as saying “we’re basing the new website design on interactivity,” and yet video is, if anything, even less interactive than print. You cannot scan-read a video; you cannot skip to the last paragraph, or the curious subheading.

The rush to online is becoming a rush to a form of TV which just happens to be broadcast on the web. And in that rush, newspapers are in danger of not exploiting the real benefits of the web: giving users control; providing extra information and context that wouldn’t fit in a print (or video) version of the story; creating communities between readers, or a forum for them to express their knowledge and opinions; communicating complex concepts in a way that can’t be done with words alone; engaging the reader through innovative formats, or by connecting them directly with interviewees.
It appears that newspaper executives used to a lecturer-audience relationship are choosing the options that challenge that least: video; podcasts – “we talk, you listen”. The most control users have is over where they listen, or watch.

Perhaps the genuine interactivity that the BBC and Guardian have done so well for years represents too much of a paradigm shift for their competitors – a change in thinking about how we tell stories. I only hope that the current changes in print don’t stop at filming the sports editor reading out his latest scoop.

Analysis: video journalism is the easy option

[Keyword: , , ]. I find it disappointing that as newspapers rush to embrace the online medium, the one recurring theme is ‘video journalism’. The Telegraph’s move to a new multimedia hub will involve intensive training in video production for print journalists, and the newspaper’s Executive Editor (Pictures) sees the future of the editorial photographer’s trade as being video (a perspective echoed by the Washington Post); The Guardian have recently announced that original video from the group’s production company, Guardian Films, will be edited for use on the web; The Times are sourcing video news from ITN; and Vogue, among many other magazines (including Stuff), are launching their own TV channel. Even The Sun now has a video version of Deirdre’s Photo Casebook.

Now Trinity Mirror is reported to be planning to increase the numbers of video journalists working across its regional titles as it relaunches its websites.

Curiously, Trinity’s editorial director is quoted as saying “we’re basing the new website design on interactivity,” and yet video is, if anything, even less interactive than print. You cannot scan-read a video; you cannot skip to the last paragraph, or the curious subheading.

The rush to online is becoming a rush to a form of TV which just happens to be broadcast on the web. And in that rush, newspapers are in danger of not exploiting the real benefits of the web: giving users control; providing extra information and context that wouldn’t fit in a print (or video) version of the story; creating communities between readers, or a forum for them to express their knowledge and opinions; communicating complex concepts in a way that can’t be done with words alone; engaging the reader through innovative formats, or by connecting them directly with interviewees.

It appears that newspaper executives used to a lecturer-audience relationship are choosing the options that challenge that least: video; podcasts – “we talk, you listen”. The most control users have is over where they listen, or watch.

Perhaps the genuine interactivity that the BBC and Guardian have done so well for years represents too much of a paradigm shift for their competitors – a change in thinking about how we tell stories. I only hope that the current changes in print don’t stop at filming the sports editor reading out his latest scoop.

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Trinity Mirror to re-launch all regional and local newspaper websites

[Keyword: , ]. “Trinity Mirror will start to re-launch all its regional and local newspaper websites by the end of the year to refocus on interactive elements,” reports Journalism.co.uk. “Trinity Mirror also hopes to have as many as 60 video journalists working across its regional titles by next year.”

Why this sudden focus on video? I feel an analysis piece coming on…

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Telegraph online: an internal perspective

[Keyword: , ]. More Telegraph perspectives, this time from Shane Richmond, the Daily Telegraph’s online editor. His blog contains some essential reading on the issues facing newspapers in the digital age, which Roy Greenslade sums up here:

“Richmond explains the need to serve fragmenting audiences – giving them different material through different channels at different times of the day – and to be humble enough to give them what they want. He points to the importance of journalists who specialise because their knowledge will be sought. Similarly, he acknowledges the pulling power of personalities whose opinions are sought. These will build audiences through their blogs.

“He also points to the need for speed. Breaking news has to go up online asap. Reporters must “work like an agency reporter” by filing copy “in chunks” to get the basics up first and then adding quotes, context and background in subsequent postings. And here’s the rub: “If you have an exclusive, you have to be honest about whether it will hold until the print edition tomorrow. If it won’t, publish it now and be first. A scoop is a scoop, whatever the medium.”

“Turning to the problem of monetising content, Richmond acknowledges that charging people – through subscription or one-off payments (aka micro-payments) – will not work. Advertising remains the best hope of providing an income stream. And this will depend, of course, on winning an audience for the editorial content.

“Finally, he touches on the ownership of content in a world where search engine giants, such as Google, can point people to thousands of sources in an instant. It costs Google nothing to provide and costs the searcher nothing to receive. But he is not keen on the proposal – by Simon Waldman, director of digital publishing at The Guardian – to develop some kind of licensing system for content, arguing that it is “vulnerable” because some search engine might offer such a service and then simply refuse to pay. Instead, Richmond places greater faith in the development of specialist and personality journalism which, he claims, is “harder to break it up.” I have to say that that’s an interesting approach.”

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Some insights from the man helping the Telegraph move to an integrated newsroom

[Keyword: , ]. Journalism.co.uk has a lengthy interview with Dr Dietmar Schantin, director of Ifra’s Newsplex, who has been advising The Telegraph as it makes the change to a fully integrated newsroom. Some choice quotes:

“you don’t copy and paste. You need to add value if you go to a different channel.

“As a newspaper you shouldn’t copy the BBC, or you shouldn’t copy Channel 4 radio, you should do your own thing with audio and video.

“This is where some newspapers, I think, are making mistakes, they just try to be the BBC but they are a newspaper.”

“The whole idea of audience orientation seems to be quite new for some newspapers, in the past it was more ‘we know what is good for our readers and so we distribute the content.’

“We are trying more to say ‘we are a service company and our service is information, news, this content, and we serve our audience with the things they want to know and on the platform where it is comfortable for them to consume it.’

“You start from the audience, what they want is a very important point but still you are not doing just what the audience says otherwise you are just a mainstream paper, at the same time you keep your core values.”

“It’s about target groups and the vision I have is that at the next stage you have editors that are responsible for a certain target group. They take the channels and the content they then need to serve that certain target group.

“I think this is far ahead because it is a completely different way of commissioning.”

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Bloggers earning more than journalists

[Keyword: , , , ]. What’s the betting this quickly becomes the most-blogged item of the week?

“Robin Hamman has spotted some interesting data from US job site Indeed.com: bloggers are commanding higher salaries than journalists.

“The finding is based on data from 226 advertised jobs for experienced bloggers, from a very diverse range of companies, including US National Public Radio.

“The advertised salary for “bloggers” was $39,000 while “reporters” were offered an average of $36,000 and jobs for “journalists” commanded just $27,000.”

Given that columnists have traditionally earned higher salaries than journalists, and bloggers are the new columnists, is this really that surprising?

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Making money from digital content: the Times way

[Keyword: , ]. Read a whole bunch of quotes from Zach Leonard, digital publisher of Times Media, on Journalism.co.uk, on making money from online content. The Baddiel & Skinner podcast was a seminal moment, apparently, and money will comes from a mix of advertising and paid-for content.

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ITV wakes up to citizen journalism – as an end of year novelty

[Keyword: , , ]. More from this week’s Press Gazette, this time on citizen journalism. ITV – better known for its opinionated news coverage than letting viewers do the reporting – is apparently planning an end of year news review programme that will focus entirely on user-generated content.

“I Was There: the People’s Review 2006, will be presented by ITV News presenter Katie Derham and will include material gathered from mobile phones, camcorders and other personal devices.
“The hour-long special will revisit news stories from 2006 from the viewpoints of the people who experienced them first-hand, and highlights the growing importance of citizen journalism.”

The production of the show belies just how little citizen journalism is integrated into ITV: “A nationwide campaign has now begun to encourage viewers to gather and send in material for the review, which will be broadcast later this year.”

Call me cynical, but I’m expecting the Lunchtime News meets You’ve Been Framed.

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Guardian finally follow video trend

[Keyword: , , ]. As The Telegraph gear up for their multimedia future and The Times sign up ITN to join Fox and Reuters in providing video for ‘Times Online TV‘, Press Gazette reports that The Guardian will finally join the stampede and launch their own online video service. Always wanting to be different, however, Guardian Media Group chief executive Carolyn McCall “said that the Guardian’s online video offerings will consist of more than video content from PA or Reuters. Instead, original video from the group’s production company, Guardian Films, will be edited for use on the web.”

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