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!
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.
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:
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.
- 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!
The Young Turks (TYT) is a new media talk show that covers news, politics, pop culture and lifestyle. It started as a talk show on Sirus Satellite Radio in the US in 2002 and then with the launch of YouTube in 2005 it soon became a successful webcast with one of the largest and most viewed channels on YouTube.
The host is Cenk Uygur, a regular contributor to MSNBC and the Huffington Post. In an interview with the Guardian last year, he told them that he wants to start a real political revolution in the US. The Young Turks itself is apart of a media revolution that Uygur hopes will replace traditional television. It has on average over 13 million viewers a month, with the majority coming from the US, Canada and the UK.
Uygur conceived TYT because he believes that eventually online TV will overtake regular programming and that American’s have a deficiency of real public service journalism. “We’re looking for journalism in all the wrong places. What’s the last story anyone on television in America broke?”
Uygur decided to turn down a $250,000 radio-only deal and TYT became the first daily streaming online talk show. It earned 30,000 viewers in its first month; by February of last year it had reached more than 200m views on YouTube. “Before if you got on CNN or ABC in America that was huge and that was the best thing, if you were a cable station it was great – they always bragged about ‘Oh, we’re in 72m homes’. Now I think, so what? YouTube is in every home.”
With just six other full-time members of staff and a monthly budget of just $45,000, the success of TYT has been quite remarkable. They make their money through sponsorship, subscriptions and YouTube revenue sharing. It has no advertising budget, the viewers provide the publicity by sharing links and clips on social networking sites. This is like word of mouth to the masses.
TYT keeps up with the US network programming by being able to book a wide variety of guests because of its ever-increasing popularity. As it has no higher up television executives telling them what to do or which guests to give an easy ride, they are able to ask what the public really wants to know. Needless to say this has upset a few people. “I heard from [US Senate majority leader] Harry Reid’s office, after his interview, that we were effectively blacklisted for future interview requests. I didn’t really shed a tear. We’re gonna be all right.”
The TYT has also been recognized by its peers for the sterling work that they do. They beat both the BBC and Rush Limbaugh, the leading talk radio host, to win Best Political Podcast 2009 at the Podcast Awards and Best Political News Site 2009 at the Mashable Awards.
According to Uygur this is just rewards for all the hard work he and his team have put it. “We worked really hard at getting all the details right. Whether it’s the tagging of the video or the thumbnail [image] … What ultimately mattered most was that we were delivering something the American media wasn’t. The American media is delivering nothing but fakeness,”
If all online video journalism could aspire to the standards of TYT then perhaps Uygur is right and traditional television may soon become obsolete.
Lauren Luke shot to fame with her inspiringly primitive home-made video tutorials designed to teach others how to recreate celebrity inspired ‘looks’.
Luke’s story is unusual. A single mum at sixteen from South Shields near Newcastle, she had already dropped out of school to look after him. She worked briefly as a taxi dispatcher, but then started selling makeup on eBay. Viewers began to ask how she achieved the looks she created with the makeup she was selling. She responded to the requests by replacing her videos made to sell make-up, with videos showing how to apply it, cleverly capitalising on the Western world’s fascination and even obsession with celebrity and appearance. Since she uploaded her first video in 2007 to her YouTube channel – Panacea81 – she has had over 88 million views and over 400,000 subscribers. In the world of online video, she is a huge success.
Luke’s online video hits were so impressive, she was promptly snapped up by the Guardian for whom she regularly writes a beauty column and also posts videos (Luke’s Guardian column). She’s now got her own range of make-up and has published a book called Lauren Luke, Look Like a Star, which she launched on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Channel 4’s The Paul O’Grady Show. She’s been featured in several documentaries including the BBC’s Inside Out (Luke on Inside Out) Natalie Cassidy’s Real Britain(Luke on Natalie Cassidy). There is even a Nintendo DS game about her.
It wasn’t just Luke’s tenacity that got her where she is today. Her ‘soft skills’ often noted as crucial in the professional world are impeccable – her chatty, friendly demeanour means she is likeable and this, combined with the service she provides have helped catapult her to the dizzying heights of the cosmetics world and online video.
Luke shows that just about anyone can make a name for themselves by harnessing their ingenuity and using technology to communicate her ideas to the world. YouTube and other video sharing sites are the catalyst through which these communications are achieved. If you can get the big hits on your channel, you too can make big bucks along with Luke and other well-known characters made famous on YouTube such as the toddler Charlie who’s parents are pulling in thousands after they captured a perfectly simply yet hilarious conversation between their son and his toddler brother.
Check out Luke in action below…