Teaching Examples

Local TV news: That sky already fell
May 17, 2007, 5:45 pm
Filed under: journalism, online, video

The only Web sites uglier than the assorted “We have no staff and our CMS sucks” newspaper sites are those of the majority of local TV stations. Not only is the front page hideous, designed like the earth stopped in 1999, and pathetically short on content — but the one thing they ought to do right (video) is often even worse than everything else.

Steve Safran takes his TV news peers to task:

We’re accused here at Lost Remote of being Chicken Little and crying “The sky is falling.” No more. The sky fell. Local TV news ratings are crashing. People are spending their time doing other things with their eyeballs. The networks are going around the locals. Look — on the ground — it’s the sky.

There is one last opportunity: niche broadband video channels.

Broadband video is here. Joost has proven the model. Brightcove is signing partners every day. Video is ruling the pipes. And this is worth mentioning: the ad rates beat the holy hell out of buttons and banners.

Last night I was simultaneously downloading TV shows from my TiVo to my MacBook and watching video feeds (like the fabulous and addictive Hometown Baghdad) on my (free) Democracy player.

Earlier today, I was browsing on the KING-5 site (maybe the best non-network TV news Web site in the U.S.), and I started watching an episode of NW Backroads. The episode itself was great (about a boy and his dad hunting wild turkeys: “I think this is pretty fun!”), but the video quality was pretty poor — compared with what I was watching last night. And there’s no RSS feed (at least, none that I could find), so I can’t watch NW Backroads in the nifty Democracy player.

I would join Steve in urging those local TV operations to wake up, and fast — but I would also urge my colleagues in the formerly print news business to think hard about what might happen if the local TV competition DOES step up. The golden age of online video experiments and innovation might be short, like the so-called golden age of radio.

Update (4:15 p.m.): The New York Times senior VP of Digital Operations, Martin Nisenholtz, gets it. He knows damn well what I was doing last night.

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2 Comments so far
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Good read Mindy

My own view here in the UK is that infrastructural models and TV’s job hierarchy which served it so well in its golden era, of course, needs an overhaul.

A new team completely (oh dear!) unless old/new dogs want to be taught new tricks?

TV execs will adamantly claim, and rightly so otherwise they shouldn’t be there, they know good TV and how viewing audiences behave.

If they didn’t:
* Firstly, they are unlikely to say so.
* Secondly, this new media stuff, that’s not TV. “Damn it, I have spent 30 years in this industry, no one’s going to tell me how to do my job *&@£$”.

Yes there has been change, perhaps marginal compared to the industry at large.

But frankly there’s a welcoming Darwinian nature about of all this: if you do nothing, it’s likely you’ll atrophy into oblivion. And, we have a choice unlike a decade ago.

In the UK a good number of regional newspapers are turning to video journalism and there have been some notable successes within this paradigm e.g. The Hull Daily Mail and The liverpool Echo newspaper which now sells footage back to local broadcasters. 🙂

But there’s also been a rush to video aping TV’s model when CMSs could in themselves push/mix the paradigm.

That said a CMS allowing the user to embed the video on their site, email, rank and comment lends itself to greater user participation.

Some newspaper/ TV execs don’t get this: “Why should I let our video leave our site. Where do I get my hits from”, I overheard an editor.

It’s led some newspapers, particularly those not running the double play, ( write the article/do the video which should add to the article) to ask what is the point of video online when I also want users to read our work.

My own tiny, miniscule idea was to wrap/integrate text around video masquerading as that headline picture.

On the step up, yes that is interesting. National UK broadcaster ITV has its local network up and running.

The BBC has 800 plus video journalists who will serve local areas via its at-some-point-to launch broadband hub.

I have recently completed some video journalism work with the Financial Times.

Like most newspapers who often generate primary news as well analyse and generate commentary, selling the article and accompanying video must be scary if you’re a news broadcaster, local or otherwise.

But whether its TV or Print, I naively believe they can converge all the digital tools at their disposal but still retain a distinctiveness.

Any how, if you’re still bereft of ideas here’s something worth considering.

Trundle off to the local high school secondary/ university and ask to sit in on the IT session and then ask the class to look at your show/ online newspaper.

Make sure you take a rain coat. But do one thing when it’s over hire the brightest student/s there.

That way ( I’m whispering now ) your peers aren’t to know you didn’t know the difference between say a CMS and CSS. 🙂

Apologies Mindy a couple of urls articles I have written in the same area:

“Broadband’s capacity offers scintillating innovation, it would be a shame to waste it”

Online convergence – print and tv
http://www.viewmagazine.tv/video journalism_Batten.html

Inside the FT’s video journalism

Cheers David

Comment by David www.viewmagazine.tv

Thanks for the thoughtful post and the links, David!

Comment by Mindy McAdams

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