Tuesday, March 4, 2008

FromDistance - Tools for Agile, Mobile Reporters

One of the companies pitching their wares here in Belgium is the Finnish company FromDistance. They make software for mobile phones (Nokias, of course, they are in Finland,) which allow reporters to post text and video directly from cell phones into their content management systems. Check it out.

Sign Of The Times: UNHCR Begs For Coverage

At the DNA2008 Video Journalism conference in Brussels, I was approached by two different media relations reps from the United Nations High Commissioners for Refugees who were virtually begging for coverage of refugee issues. Mainstream media has cut back so much that big stories go uncovered these days.

The UNHCR media folks have set up sites that we can download video from crisis situations that we can use for our stories. And they're eager to make their staff-produced video coverage meet professional video standards, both in quality and ethics. I felt bad for these guys; they obviously had a passion for the cause but newspapers don't care any more.

The media site for UNHCR is at http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/media?page=home

DNA2008: Newspaper Video Will Die in 2008

In a panel inspired by Andy Dickinson's New Year's Predictions blog posting, by the same name, Dickinson, myself, and Michael Rosenblum discussed what it takes to make video work at newspapers.

You can hear part of the panel, but not all of it as I was bitten by tech problems while sitting on the panel and unable to monitor the recording. Let this be a lesson: multitasking and multimedia do not mix.

Don't get the wrong idea: none of us were predicting the death of newspaper video. However, we all agree that bad decisions by management at newspapers could put it on life support.

I made the point that publishers need to think about the back end before handing gear to staffers -- content management systems that can embed video with stories, servers that work, players that don't piss off viewers, and tagging that Google can find. It sounds easy but very few papers are doing even these basics.

DNA2008: Brand Value Through Video

I was drafted at the last second to be on the "Brand Value Through Video" panel at the DNA2008 conference in Brussels. On the panel was Michael Rosenblum, Andrew Creighton, Chief Executive, Vice Europe; and James Montgomery, Editor at FT.com.

The ever-so-dull Financial Times has equally dull video of talking heads -- which fits their brand image precisely.

Creighton's http://VBS.TV site is really innovative. Look at their player window -- it's a real 3-d room in which they sell product placement on the objects in the room -- the shelves, pictures, etc. They're covering world-wide stories with a small staff with a youth market orientation.

You can listen to a recording of the session to hear my comments on my paper's branding practices with video.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Can Video Save the Print Industry?

A panel discussion today at the Digital News Affairs 2008 video journalism conference in Belgium attempted to answer the question: Can video save the print industry?

Moderator Richard Gizbert from Al Jazeera International speaks with:
Edward Roussel, Digital Editor, Telegraph (U.K.) Media Group;
Bas Broekhuizen, Editor, Volkskrant TV;
Charles de Broede, Online chief Editor, de Telegraaf;
Adriaan Bouten, Sr. VP and Chief Information Officer, McGraw-Hill;
and Joris Van Heukelom, CEO, Ilse Media

You can hear the hour-long discussion by clicking here.

Many of the panelists agreed that the culture in a newspaper's executive suite was the biggest stumbling block to video. And the difficulty in selling ads is a problem. There is some optimism that targeted advertising in video will be profitable.

But how to achieve success was still an unkown. Charles de Broede from de Telegraaf advocates for live streams and more of a TV model, while Joris Van Heukelom of Ilse Media says to give up the head of the long tail to broadcast and put your resources in the long tail of searchable video.

Adriaan Bouten noted that their business-to-business subscripton videos on construction techniques were doing well financially but that biz-to-consumer video was not.

Apparently, the question of whether video can save the print industry is not an easy one to answer.

Newspapers Can Make Money from Video

I spoke today to Ernest Bujok, the manager of the Concentra Media group's video and radio operations.

Concentra Media, a chain of newspapers in Belgium, bought cable television stations and turned them into the most profitable part of their business.

Rather than trying to convert their newspaper newsrooms, they use separate staffs in a separate building, using VJ's to cover local news and events.

While the newspapers are running at six percent profit, the television stations are running at 30% profit.

Click on this link to hear the whole seven minute interview.

Concentra Award-Winning Video Journalism

At the DNA 2008 conference the winner of the Concentra 10,000-Euro prize for solo video journalism was announced tonight. The winner was Idar Eduin Krogstad, from NRK Østafjells (Norway). His winning piece, entitled "Night Watch", is a look at the lives of nurses at a nursing home and can be seen on the Concentra site.

Krogstad holds his statue of Tin Tin the Belgian comic hero as he accepts the award:

Video Journalism: A "500-Year Storm"

I am in Belgium for the Digital News Affairs video journalism conference

Michael Rosenblum, who trains VJ's and produces TV shows, gave the opening remarks at the DNA 2008 Digital News Affairs conference in Brussels, Belgium today. Michael is a well-known evangelist for the one-man-band VJ model, hailed by some as a visionary and reviled by traditional television crews as someone who is trying to kill TV.

He talked about the coming storm in the news industry, a storm which will be brought about by new technology putting the means of producing television into the hands of anyone.

"In the world of journalism and technology ... we are headed for the 500-year storm. There is a giant tidal wave out there."

"500 years ago Gutenberg brought the printing press to bear. Gutenberg thought the printing press was about making cheaper bibles and so did everyone else. But that's not what it did. What the printing press did; it put the ability to publish in the hands of anyone who wanted to try, and that changed the world."

"The invention of the printing press... brought about the world of a free press, which is what we live in today."

"We don't live in a world of print; we live in a world of video and online. And these little cameras, and these laptops; these are the Gutenberg printing press of the 21st Century."

"They make it possible for anyone with an idea to publish in the most common medium in the world...

"This technological storm is going to wash away most of what we understand today and replace it with something entirely different. Whether you participate in it or are taken away by it, is entirely in your hands. But it is going to come."

Click on this link to hear the whole 25 minutes of the speech.

Michael Rosenblum
(photo by Chuck Fadely)