UK newsgroup Archant is training its reporters to embrace mobile journalism for its local and breaking news coverage.
Its visual team prioritises getting smartphone footage whilst out in the field to speed up uploading the video and image content to the website.
In a two-prong approach, press photographers learn to shoot mobile video whilst they are taking pictures at local news scenes, whilst the video journalists are upskilled in taking pictures with their smartphones.
Online articles are then published with initial 'hold videos' as soon as possible and updated when better footage becomes available, according to Neil Perry, visual news manager, East Anglia, Archant.
Getting a breaking news story on the website is crucial for attracting initial search and social traffic feeding back to the website. These stories will jump up through the most-read section and outperform in dwell time too. Headlines reading 'Watch:…' or 'See the moment that…' encourage click-through to the videos.
"We want to ride that initial crest wave of interest when people want to see that story," Perry said.
Reporters are trained to use FiLMiC Pro to film and they edit on the cloud-based WeVideo so that newsroom staff can pick up from where field reporters left off.
Small media files are sent on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, while WeTransfer is used for larger files. A 720p quality footage is more than enough to ensure the video loads quickly enough on the website.
This strategy is largely focused around Archant's headquarters in Norfolk and Suffolk, but also spreads throughout other UK titles.
All reporters and photographers are also encouraged to film on the fly and break certain TV filming conventions, like using long panning sequences to cover voiceover — still shots are fine.
"The simpler, the better," Perry explained.
"Just let things move in the pictures."
Instead, reporters on the scene get between 10 and 15 basic shots of around 10 seconds each from at least six different angles.
They want as much footage as possible because, for all they know, this could be the biggest news story of the year. They are making sure they do not miss out on potentially invaluable video later down the line.
It took time for Perry to be convinced about the benefits of mobile journalism, but he came around when he realised how fast and effective it could be for local news coverage.
And it is not just for breaking news. It also features in wider news coverage, such as a piece where Perry was given special access by Norfolk police to follow them and report throughout Halloween last year using just his smartphone.
Being able to leave the big cameras, lights and tripods at the office allowed him to blend in the background and discreetly film drunk and disorderly behaviour.
"You aren't drawing attention to yourself, you aren't putting the officers at risk, you are not in the way as much. I've been given this access before [with a big camera set-up] and it gets a reaction. People make a song and dance about being filmed."
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