Join the debate on online video journalism

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!

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PoliceTube: How Online Video is Helping Criminal Investigations

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.

Online video is now not only helping convict civilians, but also helping with the conviction of the Police too.

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


Why Charities are Embracing Online Video Journalism

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.

 

Natasha Malcolm-Brown


Yesterday’s Television, Today’s Online, Tomorrow’s Disposable News

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:

Online figures have almost tripled in 4 years.

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


Interested in Online Video Journalism? Enrol in a free course at NewsU International

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.

If you are interested in enrolling in the free course, you must first register your interest here at the NewsU International site.

Yianni Meleagros


Andrew Lansley – It’s a RAP!

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.”

MC NxtGen

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.

Andrew Lansley being told somebody has beef with him

I think we may be waiting a while.

You can view MC NxtGen’s Facebook page here, and follow him on Twitter here. He is hoping for the Andrew Lansley Rap to be released on iTunes in the coming days.

Yianni Meleagros


Finding Stories for Online Video Journalism

Whatever your interests, you can use online video to cover pretty much whatever you like – whether you want to cover hard news or light entertainment. Here’s a few tips on how to find stories that you could shoot in order to make a video for online:

  • Talk To People:

Are there any local issues affecting you, your friends or your family? Maybe there’s a new parking scheme that is causing a stir in the neighbourhood, or there might be a new shop opening or closing in your street which residents are unhappy about.

Asking people around you what’s going on may throw up an issue or an event that you could make a video about.  Below is an example of a video I made about the student accommodation I live in and the problem of constant fire alarms being set off by students.

  • Use Social Media:

Social media sites are a great way of finding stories –

1) Twitter: Twitter is a great communications and search tool. You can search for tweets that relate to what you’re looking for – for instance, a local area or an event (you could search ‘Islington’). This would bring up search results of various twitter feeds. Some feeds are dedicated to news solely about a certain place which can be very useful if you are covering a ‘patch’. Using hash tags (#) by placing them in front of key words is another good way of finding information. For more detailed information on how to use Twitter to your advantage, see one of our earlier posts by Will Teddy on Twitter and its Role in Video Journalism. Below is a news package Will Teddy and I made after finding the story on Twitter.

2) Facebook: Similarly you can also use Facebook (as well as Twitter) as a communications tool between yourself and people involved with stories you might want to cover. By searching for a person, an event or an organization you may find there is a ‘page’ or ‘group’ dedicated to this subject.

3) Forums/Blogs: Online communities (like this one!) are sites serving localities or online communities usually dedicated to a particular subject or range of subjects. They are very useful for contacting like-minded people and accessing and sharing relevant information. It was on one of these sites that my colleague and I discovered a story about a library under threat of closure.

  • FOI requests: If you wanted information about a public service you can submit a Freedom of Information request. By law, the orgainsation is obliged to give you the information except in cases which may endanger national security. For instance, if you wanted to know how much your local council spends on hospitality or even on its Christmas party you could submit a request online. This can bring new information into the public domain which could be worth covering.
  • Events: Whilst they’re not a scoop, events are worth covering in their own right. For instance, you could cover a protest or a local concert. Below is a video about an event I covered with my colleague Jonross Swaby. We found an advert for a talent show being held by a mental health charity in aid of mental health month in a local newspaper.
  • Travel Blogs: Going on an expedition during your gap year? Going away with the kids this summer? Whatever you have planned, filming what you get up to when you travel can be a great way of getting footage and documenting the experience in the form of a video for online journalism. Below is an example of an informal video I made for online using footage shot by a friend during our time abroad on work placements.
  • Existing media news sites: Whilst any good journalist comes up with original stories, you can often find stories already covered in the press which you may be able to develop or look at from an angle not already covered. For instance, a story may be published about a new scheme where drivers can pay their parking by text – but the story doesn’t say how much the scheme is costing the local council. By finding out the financial implications you have developed the story in an original way and could cover it differently to the previous reporter. The BBC has a great page which gives links to all parts of the UK, as you can see from the screen shot below:
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Search for both national and local stories using the BBC's interactive map of the UK

If you click through from the map page onto a particular region, for example, London, you can access a list of external news sites that cover that same area. You can see form the screen shot below that it gives a comprehensive list of online media outlets including newspapers and radio stations.

List of External Online Media Outlets across the UK Provided by the BBC

  • Local Authorities: Whilst we mustn’t forget council’s in the UK are political bodies and often have an axe to grind, they can still be a great source of stories. Press releases are published online, and you can contact press officers to ask about particular stories or for information or for interviews with councillors. You can find an A to Z list of councils across the UK by going to the Direct.gov.uk website.

Good luck story hunting!

Natasha Malcolm-Brown