Tag Archives: Journalism

Welcome to the Video Revolution


call now. operators are standing by…

The Travel Channel Academy is a great course, but its also expensive.

$2000 is a lot to commit for a novice, (not that we don’t have our share of novices in the course).

But what we do have is a lot of folks who would like to get a sense of what this ‘video revolution’ is all about without having to spend four days in intensive bootcamp-like training.

So we’re going to do just that.

In partnership with the City University Graduate School of Journalism, Jeff Jarvis and I are going to offer a 1-day course on the basics of the video revolution.

Learn and see what it’s all about.

First class:

Date: Saturday, March 28
Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
219 W. 40th St., New York, NY
Cost: $195 (10% discount for CUNY J-School alumni)

The BBC, Hyperlocal News and VJs

The following comes to me from Alan Morrison in New Zealand – a very loyal correspondent.

In 2005 we built 5 hyperlocal news nodes for the BBC in and around Birmingham, England as a test pilot. Each node was manned by 5 VJs, and that was all.  The pilot worked quite well. So well in fact that we imported the model to the US, where we have successfully run the model here for almost two years.

Now, the BBC wants to expand the model nationally.  Both local newspapers and local TV stations are up in arms. The vastly reduced cost compounded with the greatly expanded coverage threatens to undermine their whole way of doing business. Good. It should.

I don’t normally do this, but I am reprinting Roy Greenslade’s blog in its entirety.

Roy Greenslade is something of a legend in British journalism. He was the former editor of The Daily Mirror as well as the managing editor of The Sunday Times.

At the beginning of the week I carried two postings – here and here – about the extension of the BBC’s “hyperlocal” websites. (You’ll see in a moment why I have apostrophised hyperlocal).

In response to my second posting on Tuesday, a commenter (Shuttleboy) annihilated my argument. Firstly, and crucially, he pointed out that it is wrong to regard the BBC’s proposal to increase staffing and coverage at its localised websites as hyperlocal.

He is right. Let’s nail this one. The BBC has 57 localised websites in the UK, attracting 4m unique users a week. For localised, read regionalised because they cover huge areas with populations averaging about 1m apiece. They typically cover counties or large cities. (If the proposals are agreed there will be three more sites, splitting up some of the over-large areas).

At a push, I suppose we could call these hyper-regional or ultra-regional sites. Those terms may sound like a joke but the failure to find an adequate description for these websites is one reason why they have been improperly described as both hyperlocal and ultra-local. (Clearly, we need to end this argument over semantics).

Anyway, in practice, it means that the BBC’s websites cover areas in which there are several, sometimes many, regional dailies and/or local weekly papers. When newspaper publishers talk of hyperlocal in their own industry they generally mean small-scale publications covering areas within their own circulation areas. So they know what the term really means.

At present, the BBC websites each have staffs of four people. The proposal is to increase staffing by five per site over a five-year period. These new employees will be video journalists (VJs) whose task, rather obviously, will be to increase the video content.

The BBC believes that the expense of these expanded websites, an extra £23m by 2013 or £350,000 per site, is justified because the corporation is fulfilling its public service remit. It is offering the people living in the nations and regions a news service that does not currently exist. (Anyway, it’s not new money being spent, simply a reallocation of resources because of savings made in the division).

One of the counter arguments advanced by regional paper publishers is that increasing video content will threaten the possible emergence of competing ultra-local television services and/or duplicate digital services already provided by local media companies. But ultra-local TV is virtually non-existent and few, if any, publishers have plans to introduce it.

As for video content on local paper websites, it has got better – much better in some cases – but it is patchy and one cannot be certain that the existence of the BBC’s regionalised video content will kill off all local video initiatives.

I agree it’s a moot point. One can well understand that at this time of increasing financial desperation for regional publishers, any encroachment on to their territory is unwelcome. At a time when they need to invest in innovation they are finding it difficult to maintain a commitment to multi-platform journalism.

Shuttleboy’s third complaint about my posting was my contention that the BBC relies (and will rely yet more) on filling its websites by plundering the content of newspaper websites. Evidently, there is no evidence to suggest that this happens (or will happen). I think this is an easy one to prove one way or the other. Where is the evidence?

On a wider point, which appears to have exercised the National Union of Journalists, is it right to oppose any investment in local journalism? Should we stand back and watch papers down-size and yet deny the rights of an alternative news-provider to step into the vacuum?

In fairness, the BBC is not competing for advertising. Nor, strictly speaking, is it competing directly for audiences, given that its website footprints are so different from those of the newspapers.

Doubtless, the public value tests being carried out by the BBC Trust will cast some light on this (though its chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, may regret having spoken out about the state of the regional press prior to announcing the trust’s response to the BBC’s proposals). As one insider told me, it has given him less room for manoeuvre.

That specific matter aside, the larger problem is the one about the increasingly fractious relationship between commerce and public service, between a profit-seeking press and a public service broadcaster. Working together could prove mutually beneficial. There has to be a way to overcome this long-running dispute to both side’s advantage

Posted by Roy Greenslade Friday October 31 2008 13.11 GMT

You Push The Button

What happened?

There is a lesson for newspapers here.

Kodak once meant photography. You didn’t even have to ask. The red K in the yellow field was recognized and respected worldwide. Say Kodak and you said photography. Founded by George Eastman in 1892, the company pretty much invented the concept of commercial, professional and accessible amateur photography. “You press the button, we do the rest” was their motto.

But Kodak got into trouble.

They got into trouble because they forgot what business they were in.

Kodak was in the business of allowing people to go out, capture images and then get them for keeps.

That was it.

Kodak, however, began to believe that they were in the film business, instead of the ‘let people take pictures’ business. It was a big mistake. Because when digital cameras first came out, Kodak was such a powerhouse, that they could have owned the business. Instead, they pretty much ignored it. They were about film.

It was a mistake.

They ceded leadership in digital photography to the Japanese. They never got it back.

And today, even though Kodak is the largest film manufacturer in the world, the company is a mere shadow of what it once was, and it is hardly the world leader in photography it once was.

What does this have to do with newspapers?

Newspapers are in the business of going out into the community, gathering and processing news and information and putting it in people’s hands. That’s what their reporters and newsrooms do best.

The mechanism for the delivery of that information and news, the way it is processed, the way it is wrapped, the way it gets there is secondary.

Their power is not in the presses, but in their people.

And as the Internet takes them into every household (and every cell phone) in the world, it is critical that they don’t lose focus on their core business. You can’t stuff a piece of newsprint into a laptop or a cell phone, but you can jam tons of information, updated by the minute, there. And lots of that can be in video as well as text.

At The Newark Star Ledger we’re in the process of empowering the journalists, both print and still, with the remarkable power of video and laptop edits – digital journalism, and all that implies. The results so far are extremely encouraging. We’re not talking about 19 year olds with camcorders and Youtube here. We’re talking about working, experienced professional journalists with decades of experience morphing their considerable skills into a powerful new medium.

When it comes to acquiring up to date information about New Jersey in the near future, if we do this right….The Star Ledger will be able to say, ‘you push the button’, (on your laptop, cellphone or perhaps even TV), ‘we do the rest’.