Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Capturing News, 15 Seconds at a Time

The Wall Street Journal has been asking its correspondents to use their smartphones to post and share short video news reports to a live streaming site, Worldstream.  The videos can be live captures of news events, interview responses, or even full packages - but short (15-45 seconds).  The WSJ's made things easy for their correspondents, with a proprietary app and site built by Michael Downing, and based on his general public video sharing app and site Tout.  Worldstream added some analytical tools and a content management system that allows WSJ editors to vet (and in some cases clean up or edit into longer pieces) submitted videos before they go public.  While everything goes first to Worldstream, many clips make it onto WSJ live broadcasts or are embedded with online news stories.
  Why would a heavily print and text oriented news organisation push video sharing?
“Consumer behavior has become much more accustomed to consuming the news they want as it happens,” says Downing. “The WSJ was trying to be much more in line with real-time news and real-time publishing.”
From the business side, Worldstream's been fairly successful, contributing heavily to the Journal's 30-35 million video streams a month.

The big issue, however, is how the Journal's print correspondents reacted to the push to shoot and add video.
But the surprise, both for Downing and WSJ management, is how readily — and ably — the WSJ’s reporters have taken to the new medium; getting reporter buy-in has been a struggle for many newspaper video initiatives. “It started out as an internal tool because we didn’t know how many people would be able to accommodate this kind of approach with the technology and the software,” (Journal head of video production Andy) Regal says, “but they think about it as part of their daily work now...
In many cases, Downing said, the reporters didn’t even need training: “They just jumped right in and started using it.”
A large part of the success is the smartphone app, which makes it easy to shoot and upload video.  Christina Brinkley, a style columnist at WSJ, likes the ability to capture lots of visual information and interviews quickly at events like New York Fashion Week: “I can add a lot of value to my column very quickly without having to mic somebody up.”  (Check recent videos from New York International Auto Show).  WSJ foreign correspondent Charles Levinson added his perspective: “What are the assets that give us an advantage over the competitor? We have 2,000 reporters around the world,” adding that the quick uploads and vetting can put stories before the public quickly - sometimes faster than wire services, network and cable news.  A mark of Worldstream's adoption by correspondents is the fact that in less than 8 months online, hundreds of correspondents have created and posted almost 3000 videos, in a permanent archive.
“It’s a real-time, reverse chronological vertical feed of updates,” says Downing, “Whether it’s Twitter or LinkedIn, that is becoming the standard form factor for being able to track that information that you curate yourself.”
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the Worldstream idea is catching on.  Since Worldstream went online, a number of publishers and news organizations have pursued similar arrangements with Tout.  Downing expects to be hosting some 200 media outlets on the Tout system by the end of the year.

Source -  At The Wall Street Journal, a smartphone app has reporters on board for shooting video,  Nieman Journalism Lab

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