Welcome to our new blog all about online video journalism. As a group of broadcast journalism students based at City University, London we are interested in the issues surrounding gathering and publishing online video, the impact of online video on journalism and how it has come to be recognised as a powerful medium in its own right. The blog will explore aspects of this using a variety of media tools based on our specific interests. Enjoy, and join the debate by commenting!
Dereck Chisora is the current British and Commonwealth Heavyweight boxing champion. A couple of months ago I went to an open press event as he was preparing for a shot at the world title against Wladimir Klitschko. Unfortunately the fight has been cancelled twice and it now seems unlikely Chisora will get a chance to fight Klitschko after the Ukranian agreed to fight another Briton, WBA World Heavyweight champion David Haye.
In the interview below, Chisora seemed very confident of beating the much more fancied Klitschko but it is fair to say the majority of the press pack didn’t agree with him. I must say after watching Chisora train up close, I didn’t think he had much of a chance either. He looked to have a good punch on him but he seemed rather slow on his feet. Obviously this was only a sparring session and he was probably holding back a bit but I think it may be a blessing in disguise for him not to fight Klitschko yet. Chisora remains unbeaten professionally but he has only fought 14 times compared to Klitschko’s 55. A bad defeat could have ended his career before it even began.
However what was most interesting in this interview was the insight into Chisora’s character. Here is a man that has previous convictions for assault and last November was found guilty of beating up his girlfriend after he found text messages from another man on her phone. He avoided jail but received a 12-week prison sentence suspended for two years and was ordered to pay £1500 in compensation and serve 150 hours of community service.
Now nobody expects boxers to be held up as shining beacons of morality in our society but what Chisora said in regard to his conviction was quite unsettling. When quizzed about how his personal life will affect his boxing he rather proudly admitted, “I’m a rebel. You know what my boy Skepta says, ‘bun dat.’” This is to say, you know what, I don’t care.
His management team became very agitated with this line of questioning and would not allow any further questions on the subject. However the damage was already done. Chisora came across as an arrogant man who believes the rules don’t apply to him.
I for one am glad that this man has been denied the opportunity to represent Britain as Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Youtube: A Place to share videos of yourself with those around you. What if those people were the Police? Would you still upload videos then?
Now more than ever before, Authorities are realising the power of online video; for making connections, for broadcasting appeals, and for finding the criminal who is responsible. We are all aware of CCTV and its effectiveness in monitoring the public. We are also aware of its impingement of privacy and the big brother culture of the world today.
You might think it is a bit of fun to upload a video of your friend mucking about causing crimes you don’t find particularly offensive. But you must remember that these videos are not anonymous. Police can track you down.
Amidst the Student Protests last December, hundreds if not thousands of crimes were committed, but for those unlucky enough to be filmed, it was only a matter of time until it got uploaded to the world wide web.
Every other day it seems that the BBC report stories of people being identified from amateur footage found online. Police are catching onto this and they’re becoming increasingly good at it. You can see the petrol bomb story on the BBC News website here.
Given the massive influence online video has in journalism, papers across Britain can link to the film on youtube, which will then encourage thousands of users to log on and have a look.
But Orwell can be kept at bay for the meantime, because by the same sword the Police fight by, the Police themselves can be slayed. See here for possible evidence of a Police man apparantly charging at protestors on horseback.
To the right we see wheelchair-bound activist Jody McIntyre who was reportedly filmed being dragged from his wheelchair amidst the student protests. And below – the video footage which was uploaded to youtube that sparked controversy late last year.
Online Video has also helped police in a pro-active sense: They have now started uploading their own, in a bid to crack down on crime. Thames Valley Police Unit in particular have taken this stance and issued videos asking for any witnesses to come forward with any informati0n they may have. They have asked for info on a 14 year old knee-capping via youtube and this morning on a case regarding sexual assault. See video below:
Yesterday it was announced that High Definition CCTV systems are currently being tested across the UK that are up to 50 times more powerful than traditional CCTV cams. They have thus far been installed at local authorities and service stations, and the Aviva stadium is reportedly using them.
Looks like we’ll soon see new CCTV footage in HD quality on youtube soon! Talk about getting with the times eh!
by NICK KWEK
Every morning the first thing I do when I wake up is open my laptop and go straight to the BBC Football website. There I can get all the news of the day and the latest gossip and transfer rumours in the world of football. Now I am a massive football fan, I watch games from all over Europe and not just the big three leagues either. However my main obsession is with the English Premier League and for this in my opinion the coverage on BBC Sport is second to none. It may not have as many new articles every day and updated as regularly as Skysports.com but the quality is far superior.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in a comparison between the two websites’ video content. You would think with the massive money Sky pays to have the rights to Premier League football that their video content would be second to none but this isn’t the case.
Firstly with a much simpler, less cluttered and user friendly website, the videos on BBC Sport, all separately listed immediately grab your attention and you click on them. However with Sky Sports, all the video is in one window that shows you a freeze frame of one video for a few seconds before rolling to the next one. This means you have to wait to see screen shots of all the latest videos until you see one that interests you.
These days people don’t want to waste time sifting through everything available to get the content they want. They want to be able to overview it all and pick out their favourites.
Another bone of contention for me with Skysports.com is the bloody adverts on every single video! These are not just short 20-30 second adverts but usually a minute and twenty seconds long. That’s just plain ridiculous! I realize they must make money through advertising but must they really put an advert of over a minute on every video? I mean who even watches these adverts? If I click on a video and it has an advert before it I will usually just click away immediately. I will only stick with it if it’s a video I really want to see but then I will just mute the computer and look at another page until it’s finished. For me this is something Skysports.com really need to sort out, whether it’s feasible to move them elsewhere or cut them to less than twenty seconds I don’t know, but I do know that nobody clicks on a video to watch an advert.
What makes the BBC football video content so good is that it offers different types of video. For example the vast majority of video content on Skysports.com is mainly interviews with players and managers, and their press conferences. However on BBC they are more imaginative and offer a much wider variety of content.
Firstly what I really enjoy is Football Focus extra bits that lead up to the main programme on the weekend that often go behind the scenes at a football club and have expert opinion from their pundits. Moreover they try things out of the ordinary such as having David Cameron, Idris Elba and Kobe Bryant amongst others predicting the results of the weekend’s fixtures. (If you follow these links, you can see their predictions for yourself.)
Now don’t get me wrong, Sky Sports offers brilliant football coverage on TELEVISION. But they still have a lot to learn when it comes to online video, and they could do worse than taking a few tips from the Beeb.
UPDATE – After writing this blog and trying to embed my favourite BBC football videos on here, I found that the BBC won’t let you do that. Looks like their not so great after all! I was only able to embed the video above as it was on YouTube. It does illustrate my point quite well though; the BBC doing something different by taking us behind the scenes of one of Germany’s lesser well known clubs, Hoffenheim. However Skysports.com do let you embed their videos, it’s just a shame nobody would want to!
It’s not just the media that’s embracing cheaper forms of broadcasting video journalism content. There is a whole wave of new age charities embracing not only social media but also online video journalism, capitalising on the latest, cheapest broadcast platform.
Non-profit organizations have quickly cottoned onto the social media trend as a hugely beneficial tool for communicating their cause to anyone connected to the internet which is estimated to be 1,407,724,920 people or around 21% of the world’s population.
Not only have charity campaigns flooded social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube, these organizations have increasingly embraced the use of online video journalism to advertise their campaigns in an extremely cost effective way.
Case Study 1: Oxfam
Oxfam has a section of its website devoted to campaign videos. Oxfam also has dedicated YouTube channels – Oxfam America and Oxfam Great Britain. Oxfam says that by letting people ‘see it, share it and change it’, they can help fight poverty and injustice by spreading the word using new media platforms. The channels feature videos about many of the charity’s different operations around the world. Check out this video below featuring a report on coffee giant Starbucks and its economic relationship with coffee farmers in Africa.
Case Study 2: Unicef
Unicef has a section of its website totally dedicated to blogs about their different campaigns. They also have a section just for Audio and Video. And of course they have a YouTube channel where Unicef TV is broadcast to its millions of viewers. Check out this report below on the increasing number of families crossing the border into Tunisia to escape the current crisis in Libya.
Case Study 3: Greenpeace
Greenpeace has a section of its website which showcases campaign promos, animations and video blogs. The organisation encourages other groups or individuals to spread the videos by embedding them on other websites. The channel has thousands of subscribers and has had over 13,850,000 channels views.
The video below is about a Chinese photographer Lu Guang. He documented the oil spill at the city of Dalian for Greenpeace. His pictures depict the death of firefighter Zhang Liang and won him a World Press Photo award in 2011. The online videos Greenpeace produces are of high quality both technically and journalistically, often covering very newsworthy stories from the corners of the globe.
Given that large charities such as the NSPCC spends millions on advertising on TV, it’s more than likely they will increasingly rely on the internet as a cheaper, faster and in some cases more accessibly media platform.
Last year’s Leaders debate attracted 4.1 million viewers across Sky News, BBC News Channel and Sky3, but online streams only attracted 300,000 viewers. And yet, during the festive period there, 145 million web surfers checked in at Hotel BBC iPlayer! With youtube hosting 93 online news channels, why are we still turning on the box?
In this digital age, are we still dragging our feet across the analogue field of television, or do news junkies keep up to date via online videos? Nick Kwek investigates…
Zoe Morris watches mainly music videos online and would only choose to watch news online if there was a big story already established to follow. Not exactly one for online breaking news.
Josh Cheesman relies on youtube for amusing videos and subscribes to feeds and forums for updates. He feels news feeds are best watched on the official BBC and Sky News websites. A trusted news website suits him best.
Siobhan Schwartzberg chooses to look up youtube for individual speeches, or special packages. She wouldn’t log onto the BBC website for individual news packages, but rather prefers watching entire news programs. – something perhaps more comfortably done via television.
AH! Sorry about the lighting Tony. Alas, a peril of mobile shooting! Tony relies on BOTH television and the internet: the BBC website and Yahoo are his poison of choice for current affairs news feeds.
Okay, so these participants are hardly a broad spectrum of our society, but they are genuine case studies and they do give us various opinions about watching news online. Surprisingly, only Josh regularly watches news online as a principal source for his current affairs, but this is not so shocking when we bear in mind the statistics. Check this out, as shown by a BBC conducted study:
Only 1 in 10 people say they watch online video once a week, with a whopping 67% saying that they “NEVER and CANNOT conceive watching online TV in the future”! But, it appears as if they may not have a choice in the matter, with advertisers steadily spending billions online rather than television. Since 2007 in fact, there has been a fall in the number of television viewers and a marked rise in the number of viewers online:
The obvious advantage for watching content online is that you can watch it any time you wish; day or night, you can still access the same material broadcast via television earlier that day or indeed before it is broadcast. You can watch it for as long as you like, there is always a pause button, and you can go back and watch it as many times as you wish. But whilst it may be a good thing that people are keeping up to date online at various instances throughout the day, is this not impinging on the quality of the news uploaded, and are we appreciating and taking it in as much as we should, knowing full well that disposable news is at our fingertips?!
by NICK KWEK
I recently wrote about David Dunkley Gyimah. He is without doubt one of the greatest pioneers in video journalism. He has been instrumental in bridging the gap between video journalism and cinema and VJ is all the better for it.
He has been on the web since 1995 and his website is testament to his knowledge and know-how of mixing video journalism with the internet.
As an artist in residence at Southbank Centre, he offers great insight into the practice and philosophy of video journalism.
I interviewed him a week or two ago. It was a fascinating chat, which lasted over two hours. I have clipped out some of the best bits but there is so much more that I could have included.
I started by asking him what how much of an impact he thought the internet has had in terms of redefining video journalism?
How important is it for video journalists to be web savvy? Should they be able to do more than just blog?
Several years ago you were quoted as saying “people say videojournalism is like TV online, but videojournalism is experimental and risky. I say it’s like being a photojournalist with a video camera.” How much have the aesthetics of videojournalism changed over the last few years?
And finally, here are David’s thoughts on the future of video journalism and experimentation.
Please add your comments. I am hoping to go to one of David’s forums at the Southbank Centre soon, so I will of course be reporting back from it as and when.
Just last week NewsU International launched a new self-directed course to help journalists learn the basics of online video journalism.
NewsU International, a partnership between the Poynter Institute and the International Center for Journalists, has launched the Video Storytelling for the Web training course in Persian. An English version of the class is also available here.
The course will teach participants how to produce online reports for distribution in online media. The course is aimed at print and photojournalists who want to expand their skills into online video but is also open to any students and other people interested in journalistic standards and the capturing and editing of video.
After completing this course, participants will be able to:
- To select the best stories for the Web
- To plan their stories
- The basics of selecting and setting up audio and video equipment
- To conduct an interview for a Web story
- The basics of editing video for the Web
As a student in TV journalism with modules in online journalism I think this is a great opportunity for all those interested in producing their own online videos. If you look through this blog you will see our numerous attempts at it. Some have work, some haven’t but all were great fun to make and made you feel that you were doing something worthwhile that can impact on people’s lives in really important ways.
You may think that there is no need for such a course, that producing an online video is simply a matter of pointing your camera at something then uploading the results onto YouTube. However I can tell you from experience that this is certainly not the case. There are so many little important techniques and nuances of filming and research that without professional instructions can easily be overlooked.
What is so good about this course is that it is offered in Persian and this is no coincidence. In Iran, a country which severly suppresses free speech and journalistic integrity, it is great that an organization such as NewsU is offering the people this opportunity. As although the government may control the television networks’ output, they can’t control what is uploaded online. Thus we see the importance of learning good online video journalism techniques as in this way oppressed people can still have their true voices heard.
The first three months of 2011 haven’t exactly been quiet for global news organisations. The protests that began in Tunisia have spread all across the Arab world to Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and even Syria, a place where any kind of anti-government action would have been unthinkable even a month ago. Add to this the biggest earthquake since records began in Japan, and the subsequent Tsunami which has so far claimed the lives of 11,000 people (and counting), and you have one of the most extraordinary annual quarters in the history of modern news.
It’s not only the fact that these stories are so huge, but that they are also incredibly fast-moving. As well as a lot of “business” for news organisations, this unique combination of global events has also provided opportunities for new outfits to take advantage of the current hunger for news.
Step forward Storyful, a web curation site which has this as its mission statement:
“Storyful’s golden rule is there is ALWAYS someone closer to the story. And in the last few months, we’ve worked with people at the heart of the action, capturing turning points in history in words, pictures and video.
Sometimes our sources are local journalists, amateur photographers, or filmmakers. But often the people with the best view of the action are citizens in the right place at the right time.
We believe that there’s a good chance that person is you.”
One of the most striking things about the way that events in Japan and the Middle East have played out in the media has been the prevalence of “citizen journalism” in so much of the coverage. More people than ever have the equipment (all you need is a decent camera phone) and the connectivity (a 3G phone) to record and share the events that are happening around them.
But, however good the videos and other content which citizen journalists are uploading to the net is, none of it really has an impact unless people get to watch it. That’s where Storyful comes in. Because they are not a traditional news organisation, they are able to focus 100 % on finding, and then curating the best stuff that has been posted online. And it’s not just about getting one viral video hit, and then putting their feet up for the day. Storyful tries to keep up with the story, and to gather the most important content on one news story all in one place. And that’s where it finds its niche. It is the fastest news organisation I have come across in terms of CURATING content that is already out there.
For example, if I’m following the events unfolding in Syria, I could do one of three things:
1) go to the website of a traditional news organisation, like the BBC . This would be the slowest, but most trustworthy way of getting the information I was looking for.
2) Go on twitter, and find results for Syria in realtime. If I wanted to find videos about Syria fastest, then this would be the best option. But the wealth of information and links on twitter can be overwhelming.
3) Go to Storyful and see what their latest content is. For me, this a great halfway house for people who want stories quicker than traditional news organisations can deliver them (because of the fact that they have more stringent verification procedures) and who also want someone else to do the hard work of finding the most recent popular virals on a particular subject.
I would seriously recommend going to Storyful and checking it out. It’s the best site I’ve found for keeping up with events in the Middle East, and it’s great at organising stories into different categories (e.g. Libya, Syria, Japan, Royal Wedding). The interface is really clean and simple, which makes it easy to take in the information.
If you’re not satisfied by reading their curated stories, you can also make your own. Go over to the Storyful community page, and you can start your own story, complete with tweets, youtube embeds and your own text.
I was astonished the other day to walk past my dad’s study and hear some hardcore rap beats pumping out of there. Now my dad is quite big on his music but I have never heard him listening to rap before. So I went inside to investigate and found him watching Loughborough rapper MC NxtGen’s video slating Andrew Lansley and his NHS reforms.
Now as a surgeon working in the NHS, it is a subject that is very important to my father but I still didn’t expect him to be watching a video such as this and enjoying it. I mean he could understand the quick flow of MC NxtGen and was left in stitches by his clever word play and well produced video.
MC NxtGen (real name Sean Donelly) has found himself a viral YouTube and Twitter celebrity after posting his video just over a week ago. Since then it has amassed over 150,000 views and seen Sean whose day job is as a binman featured in the Guardian and the BBC News website.
The song has it all, brilliant lyrics over a sample from one of my favourite songs, The House of the Rising Sun and a well shot, funny video. The rap features some great lines including, “The NHS is not for sale, you grey-haired manky codger!” with the hook repeating over again, “ Andrew Lansley, GREEDY, Andrew Lansley, TOSSER!” However what makes this rap so good is that NxtGen has done his research and knows his stuff.
Now as the state of the NHS is something that interests me, I have done a lot of research into it before for a documentary I made, but I found the way that NxtGen explained it in three minutes, was better than any politician or even NHS staff member managed in more than thirty when I spoke to them.
Take these lines for example, “So the budget of the PCTs, he wants to hand to the GPs / Oh please. Dumb geeks are gonna buy from any willing provider, / Get care from private companies.”
“These plans have been slammed by patient organizations/ Charities, unions, nursing and medical institutions/ The Royal College of GP’s even joined the attack/ Looked closely at the proposals/ and said they were crap.”
NxtGen has tapped into a deep well of feeling amongst the British people of uncertainty and wariness of these reforms. The idea for the rap actually came about because he has family and friends who hope to work in the NHS but are worried by the cuts. So in his own way NxtGen decided to do something about it, and to speak out and judging by the rapidly increasing number of viewers every day to his video, the comments left and his growing Facebook and Twitter pages it seems a lot of people agree with him.
Even Andrew Lansley himself couldn’t help but admire the 22 year old whilst still trying to defend his policies. The Health Secretary said, “We will never privatize the NHS but I’m impressed that he’s managed to get lyrics about GP commissioning into a rap.”
For me this video goes to show that video journalism can come in many different forms, our hands are not just tied by a strict news package type formula. MC NxtGen gives us his take on the story in an informative and entertaining way through the power of music accompanied with a video that would not look out of place on MTV.
In the rap world, when one rapper releases a song ‘dissing’ another then the other rapper usually releases his own diss record in response and the ensuing ‘beef’ can engulf the entire music industry – think Biggie and Tupac. So we all wait anxiously for MC Lansley’s musical retort.
I think we may be waiting a while.