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!



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

“All we hear is VIDEO GaGa”: The integral role of ONLINE VIDEO in projecting Lady Gaga into SUPERSTARDOM!

Has VIDEO murdered music? Maybe it was just a bad romance…

When Lady Gaga bust onto our radiowaves in 2008 with Just Dance, she had everyone from teenage girls in miniskirts to grandfathers in brogues tip-tapping away on the dance-floor. But when we were blessed with the ability to put that name to a face at the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) in 2010, the world paused for a moment in bewildered unison asking, “WHY>?>?!! WHY THE MEAT DRESS, GAGA???”

Courtesy of REX images

Even now, half a year on –we still talk about Gaga’s radical dress sense as if it were some sort of Divinity, in place of what she should actually be celebrated for – her music. But what effect Gaga raises from her image is completely obliterated when compared to the effect caused by her music videos.

Miss Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta’s (GaGa) ‘Bad Romance’ currently stands as the World’s second most watched video EVER (Not even most watched music video, but VIDEO) on youtube.com.

Yup – Her lycra-coated body has paraded across the world’s eyes a staggering 362 MILLION TIMES!  (And counting!) This means that on average, ‘Bad Romance’ has been watched by ONE in TWENTY people on the PLANET! Or in other terms, her video has been watched once over by the total population of South America! If we play the video back to back 360 million times, and my calculations serve me correctly, it would take 30.5m hours, that’s 3500 YEARS to watch!  How scary is that?

It’s ironic to think you’d be hard-pressed to find 1 in 20 people who even like Lady Gaga and that everyone you speak to about ‘Bad Romance’ seems to think Gaga’s music is, well, just plain BAD.

And yet, we just can’t get enough: In February of this year, she won a Grammy Award for Best Short Form Music Video with her psychedelic video.  Back in 2009 Lady G was nominated for a total of nine awards at the VMAs wherein she won the award for Best New Artist for her single “Paparazzi” (Which has been viewed a mere 55 million times on youtube) and won 2 awards for Best Special Effects and Best Art Direction.

At the 2010 VMAs – “she gone cleared up good”! With ‘Bad Romance’ she won Video of the Year, Best Pop Video, Best Female Video, Best Dance Video, Best Choreography, Best Direction, AND Best Editing! Not to mention Best Collaboration for her video with Beyonce – ‘Telephone’. In response to her success, Gaga is quoted as saying “I’ve always been famous, it’s just no one knew it yet”. Well they sure do now, honey! Thank you youtube! Michael Jackson’s legendary music video, ‘Thriller ’, seems like an amateur 8mm home video in comparison to her worldwide SUPER HD BLOCKBUSTER.

                 – “fashion roadkill, that’s okay” – GaGa.

Type the letter ‘L’ into youtube and Lady gaga will come up as two suggestions in a row. Type in ‘Lady’ in google.com, and she comes up as all suggestions every time. Three years ago, Lady Gaga was still Stefanie, and now thanks to ONE ONLINE VIDEO, she is a household name who has made an unprecedented mark in music history.

All this from a woman who is “just trying to change the world, one sequin at a time”.  Right then.


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.

“Connection Strength: Excellent”

Forget Nokia, Youtube is Connecting People in a big way that’s here to stay!

Many have purported that as technology advances and online social media becomes an everyday way of life, the world is getting smaller. Who hasn’t heard of facebook, or youtube or twitter by now? As a result, fears of privacy infringement have strengthened. But surely it’s inevitable, right? Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for a 1984 Orwell invasion, but I think we need to step back and look at the amazing advantages of having such social pathways, literally, at our fingertips.

Just the other day, I was able to contact Barack Obama about City University’s Question Time with a few presses of a keypad. How can one think this is a bad thing? Now, let’s talk business…

Meet Keenan Cahill:


At the age of 14, Keenan started up his Apple Mac and began lipsynching to Katy Perry. The next day Perry re-tweeted his video. Overnight, a star was born.

18 months later, Keenan has had over 200 million youtube video views and has since started a career in music production, acting and modelling –all because of ONE VIDEO.

Last week, Katy Perry made this video for him, along with Nick Cannon and Khloe Kardashian:


One of Keenan’s dreams was to one day perform with 50 cent. The boy idolised him and made video after video singing along to ‘Candy Shop’, ‘Disco Inferno’, etc. Then one day as Keenan posted yet another video of him singing along to 50 Cent’s ‘Down On Me’, someone made a guest appearance…

The video with Keenan and Fiddy has 28 million hits on youtube and is actually more popular than the official music video that has only 13m!

Then there’s those with the BIEBER-FEVER!…

Say Hello to 3 year old Cody:


Her sister uploaded a video of her crying over Justin Bieber and the video attracted so many views, 20 million in fact, that American TV Host  Jimmy Kimmel arranged to have Bieber surprise little Cody, and in doing so, cleverly attract more viewers to his television show! Cody’s dream came true, because of ONE VIDEO.

And now this video, in itself, has attracted over 27 million views online.

Bieber, obviously indebted to youtube entirely for his success, has made somewhat of a hobby in doing this. For the Ellen show last month, he went to surprise his ‘superfan’, 15-year old Paige Conway. As Paige and Ellen’s production team record a video about how crazily infatuated she is with Bieber, what do you know, BIEBER TURNS UP! OHEMJEE. Like Totally. Shock. Horror.

This video has also been watched a mere 2m times on Ellen’s youtube channel in a month, but Ellen has made a cheeky buck or two from the advertising, say £20,000. As Mike Lok, Head of MSN Entertainment, says, “for each click online, advertisers pay 1p”. Not all bad then. Certainly hasn’t done badly for Bieber either, who has taken over Lady Gaga’s monster ‘Bad Romance’ and is now star of the number 1 most watched video EVER – at a jaw-dropping…wait for it…

HALF A BILLION views!!! Yup, ‘Baby’ has been played over 503 MILLION times!

All in all, online video can make dreams come true overnight, reconnect artists with their audiences, and as a result attract a wider audience, then we should all be grateful for youtube and the connecting power of social media. If you think the internet is a pit of evil and that the box is a waste of time, then bog off and move to the country!

But you won’t be alone for long.


Ten pioneers in online video journalism

Part two – Online channels

Last week in the first part of this mini series, I described how the internet has offered video journalists more freedom to experiment (see below).

In this second part I have picked out five of my favourite video journalism web channels. Each one has transformed the use of video in online journalism in its own right.

1. View Magazine

David Dunkley-Gyimah is one of the original pioneers in videojournalism. Since 1994, he has been bridging the gap between cinema and video journalism. He is one of the most innovative and informative video journalists around. His website contains all sorts of films, articles and images for video journalists to feast on.


A brief visual history of videojournalism (below)

8 Days

2. Guardian Films

Headed by the renowned print journalist Maggie O’Kane, Guardian Films has produced many excellent investigative films and won several awards. Most of the films are produced exclusively for the website, with the explicit aim of extending international and domestic investigative journalism using film and video.


Ghaith Abdul-Ahad’s films on Iraq

Sean Smith’s British Troops in Afghanistan

3. Vimeo Documentary Film Channel

As you’d expect from a Vimeo site (which is renowned for its professionalism and aesthetically pleasing nature), every film is beautifully shot and a joy to watch. This is online video storytelling at its best and there are nearly 600 films to choose from.


The Real Kite Runners (below)

Birthright (below)

4. VBS.tv

The online TV channel of Vice Magazine, is innovative in both its site’s magazine-style and the subjects that it tackles. In its own words, VBS carries “a mix of domestic and international news, pop and underground culture coverage, and the best music in the world.”


Heavy Metal in Baghdad

Obama’s War

5. Citizen Tube

This site is very different to the others featured on this list, but no less important. As the name suggests, this YouTube project deals mainly in citizen video journalism. The channel was set up as a platform for anyone to upload any news or politics-related videos.


There are so many videos uploaded to this channel that it’s better to pick some out for yourself. Also, take a look at the Citizen Tube blog, which has some interesting posts every now and then.

Will Teddy