Asking the experts about online video journalism, Vol II !

First I was lucky enough to speak to Guardian Commentator Tom Rogan and now I found out all about the online video plans at Austrian’s newspaper Oesterreich.

Jennifer Fellner is an editor for online content and social media at (Oesterreich’s online paper), one of Austria’s biggest daily newspapers and online papers. I wanted to know what are doing to expand their online video content.’s video portal is extremely big compared to other news websites in Austria. The videos are, either, bought from news agencies, such as Reuters or AP, produced by their video editors, or bought from citizen journalists. Their video coverage in Japan and the Fukushima crisis originated from citizen journalists for example. According to Jennifer, all of their natural disaster coverage and major accidents and other time sensitive stories, are written with the help of videos from their readers. “We could not do what we do without our readers”.

On a regular day will upload 20 – 25 videos to keep readers coming back. Jennifer says updating information is key for viewer hits. In the past weeks, with Japan, Libya, and Bahrain these numbers sometimes doubled. “You can’t put an exact number on our videos”.

I want to know what kind of hits their videos get by their viewers and she tells me it always depends on the story. Successful stories get as many as 25,000 hit whereas low video numbers get only around 3,000 hits.

The most important aspect to their online video success is the time that the videos are uploaded. All videos, at least concerning the biggest news stories, have to be up by noon every day. This is because their biggest traffic on the website is between 12 – 14 pm. “Our users watch the videos in their lunch break and always have to be able to find the newest versions”.

A lot is planned for the next couple of months at The most prominent editors at the news giant will soon get their own channels, and here they will talk about the interviews they did and analyse the main news story of the week (like a Vlog). At first these channels will only be in politics, society and life-style and sport but eventually every category will have a video editor with their own channel.

I read a lot of German news and always check for their video content. If you understand German you should definitely check them out. It will be interesting to see what kind of videos their editors will upload once they have set up their own channels and what the traffic numbers say then.



Jil D.



LiveLeak – for citizen and video journalist!

LiveLeak is a video sharing website, that exists since October 2006, where users post and share videos. The videos uploaded to LiveLeak are to do with politics – mainly Middle Eastern affairs (Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran are their own category), current events and reality-based footage such as war scenes. The footages are often combined with citizen journalism, making this site brutally honest with its content. News reporters can use this site to bypass official statements and records and address the actual situation in the conflicted countries.

As honest as LiveLeaks may be, it often contains immense cruelty and violence shot by citizens. Under Your Say, on the site, video journalists in conflict share their experiences with the world. Very often these videos will raise heated debates between users. See a video on the Iranian protest movements documenting their experiences here.

Co-founder, Hayden Hewitt, has defended violent videos on the site by saying: “Look all this is happening, this is real life, this is going on, we’re going to show it.”

This video shows a protestor in Libya getting shot on the 15h of February.

LiveLeak also has a point system meant to motivate users to deliver positive contributions, where any kind of hate speech, propaganda or spam will lead to point subtraction or deletion.

LiveLeak shot to fame in 2007 when White House Press Secretary Tony Snow and Former PM Tony Blair mentioned the site after it leaked the execution of Saddam Hussein. At first, politicians seemed worried that LiveLeak could be used as a tool of propaganda by terrorists but now they have embraced the site and even spread their own messages about the war in Iraq and other unrests since then.

This video shows the latest footage of Fukushima shot from a helicopter and was leaked to LiveLeak 4 hours ago.

If you want to share your online videos with LiveLeak you have to become a member. Although you will retain the rights to your videos the site can use your content for any purposes they like. Many of the videos posted on LiveLeak are used by news channels such as Channel 4.

Jil D.

Staying safe in pursuit of the story

Since the birth of YouTube little over five years ago as an internationally free and accessible online video platform, and the increasing cheapness and availability of recording equipment, the aspiration to be an online video journalist is realisable to many. VJs often work independently, as freelancers or stringers, and supporting themselves means obtaining footage that no one else has, or that gets closest to the story. One of the side effects of the increased number of VJs therefore [see post How online video journalism has become a celebrated medium] is pressure to take greater risks.

The following organisations provide a wide range of services accessible online to journalists who are preparing to enter war zones and unsafe environments or who have been working within them and met with difficulties. Resources available range across advice on freelancer friendly insurance, accessing funds for hostile territory training, hotlines for journalists in need of immediate advice, and support for the families of journalists who have been imprisoned or killed.

Rory Peck Trust

Tel: 00 44 (0)20 7730 1411

  • funds for journalists and their families in crisis
  • funds for safety training to journalists in need
  • insurance information

The International News Safety Institute (INSI)

Tel: 00 44 (0) 7766 814274 or 00 44 (0) 7734 709267

  • funds for safety training to journalists in need
  • equipment information
  • insurance information
  • safety resources

Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)

Tel: 001 212-465-1004

Reporters without Borders/ Reporters sans Frontières

Tel: 00 33 1 44 83 84 84

  • funds for journalists and their families in crisis
  • equipment information
  • insurance information
  • safety resources
  • emergency hotline

Media Defence Initiative

Tel: 00 44 (0) 207 0310 215

  • legal support

DArt Centre for Trauma

Tel: 00 44 (0) 20 3239 7133

  • safety resources
  • journalist-to-journalist advice

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

Tel: 00 32 2-235 22 00

Laura Heighton-Ginns

New Left Media

New Left Media is a new generation news YouTube channel started by Chase Whiteside and Erick Stoll. They are currently students at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and therefore a huge inspiration for me. Their news videos have a huge online following for many reasons that I can think of. They are extremely professional and objective when doing their interviews and update their channel on a regular basis. Their topics are always up to date and follow the issues concerning the US population.

Below are some of my favorite videos, the best one for me is the Sarah Palin book signing, where I actually laughed out loud…which hasn’t happened to me ever while watching news stories! At the same time I also understood what was going on and got to grasp the views of the public.

For the covering of the “Rally to Restore Sanity” called by for Jon Stewart on his show Whiteside and Stoll received over 126,540 hits on YouTube. The demonstrators expressed their concerns about the deterioration of state news and hyperbolic content of 24/7 news channels. However, when asked which news outlets they watch the general answer was Jon Stewart’s show – a comedy show as their primary news source or other partisan news shows such as the Daily Show.

Sarah Palin Book signing – interviews with supporters:

Again they only stayed for about 90 minutes to do these interviews and didn’t cherry pick their interviewees. They are real investigative journalists that go at a topic objectively.

Chase and Erick went to the March of Equality on October 11 to support full equality in all 50 states for the LGBT community. They interviewed Cleve Jones, the National Equality March Organiser, and members of the LGBT community on their views of Obama and the Human Rights Campaign.

Chase Whiteside also made an It gets better video (in reference to my earlier blog about the campaign) to fight bullying and hate at work and school places which has over 43,034 hits on YouTube.

Over 1,800 people gathered outside House Minority Leader John Boehner’s district office in West Chester Ohio to show him that there are many people in the US supporting the public health care option and Obama’s policies. This protest came after John Boehner publicly claimed that he didn’t know a single American who was for the public option.

Have you ever heard of New Left Media? Leave your comments below.

Jil D.

The impact of Video Journalism in the Arab uprisings: part 1 of a 2 part report

By Hugo Williams


On the 17th December 2010, when Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in front of a Tunisian police station, the world changed forever. Bouazizi’s death, which was seen in Tunisia as a symbol of the desperation which they so many felt under the autocratic regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali , lit the touch paper for a revolution which spread far beyond one country’s borders.

Since then, Egypt has overthrown its own longstanding tyrant in its struggle for democracy, and there has been continuous (and ongoing) unrest all across the Arab world: Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan, Syria, and of course Lybia, where Britain, France and the US are currently enforcing a no-fly zone to protect Libyan citizens from Colonel Gadaffi’s attempt to quash the revolution.

The revolutionary contagion spreading across the Middle East has been blamed (or credited, depending which angle you’re coming from) on many things: repressive regimes which deny their people freedom; a huge population of young people who feel frustrated and let down by their leaders,; and finally, the rise of social media, which has allowed people to share information and organise themselves online, in a way that would simply not have been possible even two years ago.

But referring simply to “social media” as being the catalyst for these uprisings is too broad. It’s not just the messages that people have been able to send each other, arranging where to meet, or gathering so many people online that they are able to develop a critical mass, so that they can be sure of safety in numbers before even heading out onto the streets.

One of the things that galvanised people most into acting was the fact that VIDEOS of different protests were available online so quickly after the event. People could see with their own eyes what was happening. This was especially true when it came to government’s attempts to crack down on protests.  For example, the footage of an Egyptian police van deliberately accelerating as it entered a crowd of protesters, running over several people, demonstrated in one 10 second clip the brutality that the Mubarak regime was prepared to use to suppress its own people.

The use of online video to document abuses by different governments during the Arab uprisings has been instrumental in forming opinion not only among people in those countries, but also in the international community. Which in Libya’s case has made all the difference.

So surely this can only be a good thing, spreading information and calling governments to account? What harm could it possibly do? Read on for the counterargument in part 2..

Interview: Raul Gallego Abellan on reporting wars and how technology is changing the role of a journalist

Raul Gallego Abellan is a video journalist from Spain currently employed by Associated Press. His work has led him around the world, between war zones, natural disaster sites and international award ceremonies.

LHG: Your website states that your first role in the industry was as a freelance in 1998. In what ways have you found that the expectations of independent video journalists have changed since then?

RGA: Technology is going through a big change in our profession. Equipment is more cheap so more people have access to cameras and can potentially become journalists, producers, filmmakers etc. But because there is a bigger market and bigger group of people ready to shoot, media companies are using this fact to devalue the conditions of our work. There are so many people willing to work as journalists that media companies are taking advantage and saying: look if you don’t take this offer I have hundreds of people knocking on my door willing to work for even cheaper.

But though there are more people with a laptop and a camera it doesn’t mean that quality is improving. Actually it’s getting worse. General quality in shooting, editing and even reporting is getting lower. There are stories that I see now on TV or online that, when I was starting out, would no way have been broadcast.

I love to work with just a little camera, a laptop and a satellite phone. That makes it so much easier for me to travel around. But working with a little camera is more difficult; there is less stability and you have to make a bigger effort to shoot properly, make sequences etc. than if you work with a big camera.

However there are now people doing great work with very cheap equipment. More people are able to produce something and show their talent and new ways of storytelling. Before, production was very expensive. Now, with less money but good quality and hard work you can do what before you had to spend big quantity of money and send a big crew on.

But I do feel that what is wrong is that the conditions of our work, salary, level and quality, etc., are decreasing in recent years.

Now, a freelancer has to be someone ready to do everything. Shoot, edit, report, write, take photos, tweet! I like to be a multi skilled person but now it’s getting too much. It’s evident that if you try to take photos, shoot video, edit, report, tweet, all at the same time, the quality will be not so good. Especially in daily news or breaking news, for example a text writer cannot take good photos if s/he doesn’t have experience and is using a little snapshot camera. What you do when something is happening in front of you? Take photos? Shoot video? Also, I think that if you shoot video with cameras like HD SLR and then you do a frame grab you are killing photography.

LHG: You’ve been covering the unrest in Libya for Associated Press and have entered many conflict zones for your work in the past. How do you prepare yourself for entering a hostile territory?

RGA: I don’t have a set way to prepare myself. I always try to think positive but at the same time be aware of things that could happen; all the options, all the possibilities that I might face. I believe that motivation is also very important. People have to know why they are going to cover conflict. For me it works if you have the intention to show the reality of the conflict, the suffering, and if you see journalism as a tool that means things will at least be registered. We as journalists can not create much change in the world but at least we can try to or try to expose something that is wrong. If somebody that has a rich life in the EU or the US sees one of my stories and decides to give a donation to an NGO or just becomes more aware of how lucky s/he is to live where s/he lives it’s kind of worth it. Sometimes a camera in a conflict can give a little hope to the person that is suffering just to let them talk in front of the camera. Sometimes a strong image can mobilise a society in big or small groups or individually.

Every war reporter has different reasons for covering wars. And it’s worth noting that covering war doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be constantly on the front line. People are bored of the bang bang images. They are so bombarded with them that they don’t care anymore or are not touched by one or two minutes of fighting, explosions or images of people injured or dying in the hospital. An example of this is that some people remember more of an interview with a Libyan rebel fighter I filmed in the few days before he started fighting, when he was living in Denver Colorado selling donuts, than any of my fighting images where I was risking my life for it.

But the last uprisings in Tunis, Egypt, Libya etc. shows how important the media still is and how important journalists are in mobilising people despite, at the same time, mass media becoming a little like a circus with correspondents just explaining how difficult and dangerous it is for them to work there than actually what is going on on the ground.

LHG: What would you say is the most memorable project you’ve worked on to date?

RGA: I have lots of stories in mind. I cannot say one was more important or more memorable than the others. Covering a historic moment is incredible. When you are recording with the camera and you are thinking, this is history and I am experiencing it in a front row seat. Also, when your story helps someone, that is the best feeling as a cameraman or journalist as it’s when you feel that your work is really worth it.

Last year the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) recognised online news for the first time, and awarded Raul the Edward R Murrow News Series prize for his three part video essay A Marine’s Diary, about the lives of US marines in Afghanistan.

Part I:

Part II:

Part III:

Laura Heighton-Ginns

Accessing online video through your TV: why cable companies are fighting the spread of online video journalism

For most Americans (and probably most Europeans if we’re honest) before 2011 Al Jazeera was a little known foreign news network. Best known for showing videos of westerners being held hostage by terrifying religious zealots, few western viewers thought of the network a source of good journalism.

But for many American viewers, the Egyptian revolution changed all that. Al Jazeera had journalists reporting live from Cairo while major US networks such as CNN and Fox News were still scrambling to get their people out to Egypt.

In the USA Al-Jazeera English was not available on cable channels causing many viewers to switch to their computers as a source of news on the uprising. However, the preference for viewing news on a TV, rather than a computer screen seemed to be an inevitable hurdle which Al-Jazeera couldn’t overcome without the support of US cable networks.

But this is where Roku came in…

This technology allowed viewers to watch Al-Jazeera English directly through a conventional TV.  Roku also offers Hulu, Netflix and other online which offer a lot of the mainstream content US viewers could normally only find through cable networks. For a while it looked like online video could take the lead as online and television fused into one medium.

But the big cable networks aren’t going down without a fight.

The established companies are doing their best to slow down independent online TV providers as far as possible while they perfect their own ‘TV Everywhere’ technology. And since the cable providers control the same cables which provide internet service they still have the upper hand when it comes to restricting online video content.

And the crucial difference between TV Everywhere and providers like Roku – for TV Everywhere the viewer is still dependent on the monthly subscription to their cable operator.

The battle between online TV providers and big cable networks isn’t some clash between the forces of good and evil – both are just private companies competing to make a profit after all!

But as long as big cable holds too much power and the executives know that people won’t make the switch from a TV to a computer monitor, news agencies like Al-Jazeera will struggle to find an audience in the west. And as long as the established news agencies know that they don’t have to face any new competition there’s no motive for them to improve the quality of the news they provide.

By Alan O’Doherty