How can legacy news outlets incorporate video sharing and live reporting into their workflow?
This was a question up for debate at the recent Global Editors Network Summit in Barcelona, where experts from the Wall Street Journal, The Times and Sunday Times shared examples of how they were using video for live reporting and to engage users.
Though legacy organisations may be well practiced in producing newspapers and online stories, it is "much more difficult to integrate new considerations into that system," noted Lucia Adams, deputy head of digital at The Times and The Sunday Times.
Doing so takes "extra time and extra expertise," she added,
Here are five pieces of advice:
1. Think quality, not quantity
Prior to 2010, video content at The Times and Sunday Times was "very much following the news agenda," said Adams, and the amount of pageviews it received was "hit and miss".
However, following the appointment of Jack Enright in late 2011, the outlet adopted a video strategy of "less, but better".
"In two years we went from producing 15 videos a day, to producing half that number but doubling the number of video views," she said.
2. Multimedia is not a post-script
"Multimedia cannot be an afterthought," said Adams, who manages a multi-disciplinary team of developers and multimedia producers.
However, considering how video might be used to tell a story from the very outset requires an understanding of what makes good video, she added.
Adams defined this as content which features "emotion, humour, action, or insight".
"To a video journalist, that might sound quite obvious, but for a newspaper journalist quite often the thought process goes something like: 'we've got a good story, it's got to go online, let's put some video with it' – the thought process needs to be much more evolved than that.
3. Play to your strengths
When The Times and Sunday Times launched its tablet app in 2010, its focus became much less about pageviews and more about engagement, said Adams.
Readers were engaging with the app for "up to 40 minutes", a unprecedented amount of time for the outlets' web platforms, and something which subsequently shaped the direction of its video content to be "much more considered".
"For us it's about taking the really big exclusive stories," for example, the revelations Qatar's bit to host the World Cup in 2022 that the Sunday Times published recently.
"That was a massive story for us, so video was absolutely the right medium."
4. Use video to distinguish yourself
In instances of breaking news, many people go to Twitter for updates, noted John Crowley, digital editor EMEA at the Wall Street Journal.
So how do news outlets makes themselves the go-to outlet amid competition from other sources?
One of the ways the WSJ aims to do this is through its WorldStream platform, which launched in 2012, allowing its reporters around the world to shoot and upload video straight from their smartphones in just a few minutes, via a customised version of Tout.
The process is efficient both in terms of time and resources, enabling the WSJ to get reliable, on-the-ground footage from breaking news situations online so quickly it is "almost live".
"There is demand for this content out there," said Crowley.
He added that, as the digital branch of a legacy news organisation, "we have to cut our cloth accordingly, and what we can do is this – we can arm our reporters out in the field with iPhones."
5. Don't worry if it's rough around the edges
Online video content does not have to be polished and professional to be engaging, said Crowley.
To demonstrate, he showed a WorldStream clip of protesters being tear-gassed by police in Taksim Square, shot by WSJ's Istanbul bureau chief Joe Parkinson last year.
The shaky footage is "pretty raw," Crowley noted, and was also shot vertically rather than horizontally – generally a faux-pas in mobile reporting.
However, the chaotic feel of the video serves to enhance the viewer's experience and understanding of what the situation must have been like, he said.
"[Parkinson] was right in the midst of it, being tear-gassed," said Crowley. "We left that in because we thought it was compelling, we thought people would want to see what was going on, and it was hugely engaging."
Journalism.co.uk is hosting a day of training in mobile journalism lead by RTÉ innovation lead Glen Mulcahy, on Thursday 24 July as part of our news:rewired+ courses. Tickets for the news:rewired digital journalism conference on Wednesday 23 July, and the news:rewired+ courses, are available here.
Free daily newsletter
- The Wall Street Journal launches archived content newsletter
- Newsrewired special: How The Times is running towards a digital-first future
- Subscription retention strategies: pain points and remedies
- From problem solver to innovator: how bridge roles have evolved in newsrooms
- Robin Kwong, new formats editor of The Wall Street Journal, on evolving bridge roles