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


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

Self- reporting for self-defence: How Anonymous uses video journalism to protect themselves:

The online group ‘Anonymous’ has been credited with various online campaigns from the mischievous to the controversial to the bizarre. Their activities range from releasing spoilers on the plot of the Harry Potter novels to bringing down major credit card websites as a response to what they perceive as abuses of power. They have been called cyberterrorists, pranksters, and perhaps most famously as ‘hackers on steroids’

However they are perhaps best known for their campaigns against the Church of Scientology. This movement, known as Project Chanology has seen Anonymous members leave the online world and take to the streets to protest against the Church –which they argue is a dangerous cult.

Footage of protests is hardly unusual (we need only think back to the student riots) but what makes these videos different is the fact that they have been filmed by the protestors themselves both to publicise their campaign and, they argue, to protect themselves from the Church of Scientology.

The Church is known to film its critics without their permission – a phenomenon witnessed first-hand by John Sweeney when filming a Panorama episode on the group.

The ‘Fair-Game’ policy to which Sweeney refers supposedly advises Scientologists to use extreme methods to oppose critics including long-term harassment.

For Anonymous the most effective way to combat the Church is to use their own methods against them – in this case, filming Scientology agents who arrive at the demonstrations and attempt to film unmasked protestors.

And for now, these techniques seem to work. As a controversial movement for which media management is an extremely high priority, the Church is highly sensitive to bad press.

Protest videos that show actions against a corrupt Government are inherently limited by the regime’s power to suppress access to the internet. The Church of Scientology has no such countermeasure.

By using simple and cheap recording equipment and the internet as a platform Anonymous are able to reach a vast audience with any evidence they have of wrongdoing on the part of the Church.

I have previously written on the shortcomings of online video as a revolutionary tool in the Middle East. There, the power of the regime to control the online world inevitably limits the power of online activism. But in the case of Project Chanology where the state imposes little or no restriction on the protestors online campaigns, it seems that the pen, and its descendant the computer, is still mightier than the sword.

By Alan O’Doherty

How online video journalism has become a celebrated medium

Go back just six years and online video journalism was an obscure technical specialism, its fruits accessible to few. In 2005 YouTube was launched, sparking a revolution in online video creation and consumption and the engagement of internet users worldwide. The recognition it brought coincided with the creation of a number of awards for online video journalists. These awards are increasingly prestigious as more and more news organisations and journalists tap into online video technology and the market becomes ever more competitive.

The Concentra Award aims to inspire independent video journalism and focuses solely on the medium. It also aims to promote healthy competition between the various makers of television news items. The winner of this annual award receives 10,000 Euros in prize money. Adam Ellick of the New York Times took the prize in 2010 with this film about Pakistan’s slums;

The Online News Association was founded in 1999 and is composed largely of journalists whose main work involves gathering or producing news for digital presentation. Their annual Online Journalism Awards have three categories for professional video journalism based on website traffic (Small: Up to 999,999 monthly unique visitors, Medium: 1 million-4,999,999 monthly unique visitors, Large: 5 million or more monthly unique visitors). There 2010 awards were presented at a banquet in Washing DC and recognised the following films;

Toronto Star (Large):

The Las Vegas Sun and the Greenspun Media Group (Medium):

Yale Environment 360 (Small):

The Association of Online Publishers holds an award ceremony each year to recognise excellence in digital media. It praised The Guardian in 2010 with its award for Use of Video, stating;

The Guardian has shown innovation and creativity in both the form and content of its video output in the judging year. A small dedicated team produce the core video, while photographers and reporters are also trained to shoot video, which has meant that video output is not a mere copy of the broadcasters’ but something aesthetically unique, combining economy and creativity.

The Guardian’s use of amateur footage of the death of Ian Tomlinson [see post Two stories that pioneered the power of online video] was noted.

Laura Heighton-Ginns