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


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:

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 website.

Good luck story hunting!

Natasha Malcolm-Brown

Experiment in online video: protests at Libya conference in London

Today, 44 foreign ministers met at Lancaster House to discuss the future of Libya. In a cafe just up from the corner of St James Street and Pall Mall at 1.30pm, three men sat wearing official badges displaying the Libyan and flag and the word DRIVER, speaking quietly. From outside the cafe, resounding raised voices could be heard. I went out with a camera to record interviews as an exercise in online video journalism.

Two groups of protesters had formed outside the conference venue. Chanting ‘hands off Libya’, the larger group of about 150 people waved green flags in unison, a symbol synonymous to them with both peace and Colonel Gaddafi. I spoke to 20 year old Marwa Issa, a housewife who came to the UK from Libya with her husband two years ago. She was with her son, Naset, 1 year and 8 months.

The Stop the War activists had positioned themselves on the other side of the road, in demonstration of their opposition to the Gaddafi regime. Chris Nineham, national organiser for the Stop the War Coalition, arranged their protest.

After recording the interviews I came home to work out the technical process of making them into online videos. Having connected the camera memory card to my laptop I uploaded the footage as .MOV files to my youtube channel and was able to embed them via their URLs directly into this post. I’ve also learnt the importance of investing in a microphone.

Laura Heighton-Ginns

VIDEO SCHOOL: like a library but FUN!

Reading becoming a bore? Books not your cup of tea? Fancy sitting back and relaxing in front of the big screen? Must resist? What if you could learn whilst sitting in front of the screen? Well, fret not my hungry student, NOW, more than ever before, it seems you CAN. And WELL.

Since its launch in 2005, Youtube has been uploading educational videos onto the world, and since 2006’s ambition has been to teach the world from the comfort of their homes, at the office, or on the road via wireless media devices, all thanks to online video.

And it’s not just boring subjects you can learn about – if you type ‘how to’ into youtube’s search box, you will see the following ten suggestions (I few of which I can safely say are extremely important skills to possess!):

1)      How to kiss

2)      How to get a 6 pack in 3 weeks

3)      How to Dougie    

4)      How to make a paper gun that shoots

5)      How to annoy people on Black ops

6)      How to tie a tie

7)      How to be ninja

8)      How to save a life

9)      How to make money on the web

10)   How to be Gangster

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but at least 4 of the above 10 are downright modern-day essentials!  Number 7 deserves praise in itself surely for supplying us with a whole new brand of verb.

On a serious note, online video is serving as a ground-breaking form of learning – wherein people can learn to understand basic mathematics to complex algorithms in a brand new and FUN way.

Not to mention the tutorials and sessions on cosmetics which, given the power of the internet, can reach millions in every corner of the globe. It may only be a video on effective eyebrow hair removal, but it has changed the lives of people – take Samantha Chapman and her sister Nicola for instance who have made a fortune and established careers from make-up tutorials they upload to youtube. When Samantha fell pregnant, she quit her job in cosmetics to be a stay-at-home mum, but through tutorials, has taught millions how to apply make-up to professional standard.

What’s that you say? These videos only help those with light skin tones? Ohhh but alas –  Holly Ann Aeree and Shea Coacao Luv have tutorials for the Asian and black complexions too!

I know what you’re thinking – Make-up – Hardly revolutionary, right? Touché. So what about practical tutorials in musical instrument teaching? 6 mill views for basic guitar good enough for you?

This is just one of ViewDo’s many videos which specialises in teaching everyday skills and tasks. The small youtube channel has already welcomed an audience of over 20 million, clearly people value these short, concise and hugely effective videos. One of my personal favourite videos which has helped me learn a skill invaluable to students everywhere is this one –

I can’t remember a Friday night when this particular skill was NOT useful. Evidently 2 million other students found it handy too…

The thing about learning online is that you can see and hear the lesson, you are not just sat in front of a piece of text, you are learning whilst you are watching. Another great benefit is the fact that the video lesson can be accessed anywhere in the world, by an infinite amount of people, which means there is no such thing as an ‘on hire’ book – the resource is free and available to all, at all times.

Conerning practical demonstrations, online video will beat literature every time. Take learning to drive for instance. What do you do if you don’t have a car to practice, if you can’t afford lessons? Appeal to a textbook? Or click below?

Another thing about video tutorials is that it means everyone can be a teacher. Once a skill is learned, the student becomes the master and they can then share the skill with the world at a few clicks.

If only there was an online video that could teach me how to write an effective blog. Oh no wait…



At The Scene: Online Video’s Crucial Role in Breaking News

So, there you are in the office writing up your script for the BBC’s News at Ten and at 9.40pm the juiciest news story breaks out all around you! How do you capitalise on this massively visual piece NOW whilst it’s still hot?  What do you do? What can you do? The answer is Nothing. You are forced to sit, wait for 10pm and watch as the pie quickly cools…

GUTTED without Online Video

“What about the BBC News Channel and Sky News? They provide 24 hour rolling news!” Correct, you are right there. But only for people who can afford satellite television, which currently only stands at one THIRD of UK homes. The other 66%, the majority, are left to wait.

Your smug fellow colleagues at BBC who work in the department of BBC News Online, on the other hand, can dig in straight away. They can even burn their tongues by capitalising on news so fast.

It’s not just them stuffing their chops – Sky News Online, CNN, and Twitter constantly dine at the online video buffet for breaking news stories. And when they do, they can be assured it’s always fresh.

When the story of the 7/7 bombings in London broke in July 2005, the BBC went straight online to youTube and Flickr for videos and photos of what had happened. The user generated comments they found there also gave them ideas about the potential casualties they needed to report.
Jo Twist, BBC’s Technology Reporter says:

“Unlike TV cameras, mobile phones only need a functioning network to send back moving images. This can be done at the touch of a couple of buttons.

TV crews often need feed links and complex set-ups to file back their high-quality images.

The grainy quality of the moving mobile images will improve over time, but news organisations say viewers forgive the quality as they understand the circumstances in which such footage is often shot.”

The above video was taken by David Couzins, an un-injured train passenger underground the day of the 7/7 bombings. He says:

“Although not particularly interesting, I did manage to email this video directly to some of the world’s major newsrooms as soon as I got to the surface (something that was reasonably advanced in 2005) and as a result both the BBC and Sky News played this video numerous times throughout the day as the story unfolded. I will never forget that day.”

Amateur videos are becoming extremely popular as time goes on, as the average person becomes more and more adept to shooting their own footage comfortably and sharing it immediately. Their proxomity to the scene of the story cannot be beaten by news organisations, bacause it is from those involved that the organizations are alerted in the first place. Take the disaster in Haiti for instance:

In reporting the earthquake disaster in Haiti in Jan 2010, the BBC posted amateur footage from youtube without properly discovering its source or checking its reliability. But even if you do check the sources, and they all add up, time will not wait for you.

And even if you do provide up-to-the-minute news during broadcast, nothing can be done once transmission has ceased: if a burning story breaks at 10.36pm, there’s no opportunity to broadcast it for another 6 hours on BBC One until 4.35am the following day.

With online news, you can be sure to get that breaking story out and spread it to the world fast. You don’t have to send a reporter to the place of the incident. You don’t have to voxpop for mixed reviews/opinions. You don’t have to reconstruct any action that takes place. You just have to venture online.

Because Online Video will always be first at the scene.


Listening With Your Eyes: Overcoming disability with online video

Imagine the internet without sound – your favourite movies would be destroyed, watching videologs would be pointless and music videos would be rubbish, right?

WRONG! Welcome to the world of online DEAF video television…

Behold! – A whole online community of videos for the deaf, or keen sing-language readers. On these websites, users upload videos just like youtube, but with the sound turned down. People are able to express their feelings, opinions, emotions VISUALLY like never before. Can’t hear someone’s vlog? No matter- with sign language in essence you can.





Voila! This is just one user who’s expressing her frustration over DEAFvideos’s comments section.

And here is a Film Producer podcasting about the future of DEAFpod.

But it’s not just deaf vlogging and podcasts that online video has revolutionised, but the ability to learn sign language quickly and efficiently. Ever wanted to express yourself through sign but been unable to find the correct movement? By clicking here you can find that word you seek in seconds!

Just follow the instructions on screen to select the word and KAZAM! A VIDEO appears with the correct sign language interpretation!

Let’s say you’re not looking for a word, but perhaps just want to learn the basic alphabet. With online video, you can experience the hand movements time and time again outside the restrictions of a classroom, and with actual motion that beats a textbook 11 times out of 10!

This funky video’s created by Smart Hands – a company specialising in teaching sign-language to children. They educate parents in how to effectively communicate with via sign-language and what’s truly amazing is that parents anywhere can follow classes LIVE ONLINE!

All you need is a computer with a broadband connection and you’re good to go.

But say once class is over you want to relax and have a bit of fun? Whilst others may dancing around their living rooms listening to their favourite song, now with online video you can listen to the most up to date songs on the charts with sign language interpreted music videos!

I GOTTA FEELIN that whilst BSL’s (British Sign-Language) Sign Post may be leading the way on television, regularly broadcasting to 2.5million people in the UK, online videos for the people with hearing disabilities are reaching people on a GLOBAL level. Online videos for the deaf are truly breakign barriers – not only can they help deaf people access quality education, but they can also help those with learning difficulties too, the dyslexic and the illiterate.