One of the things I want us to do today is look at some big news media websites and look at how they use video. Over the last three or four years, all news operations, from newspapers and magazines to traditional broadcasters, have invested heavily in the idea of multimedia journalism. In particular, they all began to add some sort of video content to their sites. Looking at YouTube's figures convinced them this was the way to big audiences.
Now, however, there's some doubt about whether video really works on news sites. Lots of traditional media sites, especially those put up by the national newspapers, aren't quite sure what kinds of video to do and what really works for their audiences.
That said, there are some interesting ideas out there about how to use video online. What we're going to do today is collectively look at the range of stuff that's out there and try to find some good stuff.
So here's a few news media sites:
I'm going to get you to work in small groups and look at one of these sites. Try to answer the following questions:
- What video content is on the site? How would you describe it?
- Who made that video content? Does it come from a traditional broadcaster or an individual journalist?
- Is the video content like traditional broadcast news? If not, how is it different?
- How is the video integrated into the site? Does it standalone as a sort of little programme? Or is it part of a story package that involves pictures and text? If so, how does it all work together
Write some quick answers to the questions on your blog. We'll pool our ideas about this once you've had chance to look through a site and post something. You then need to write a short concluding analysis of the site you looked at.
There are two assessments for the online half of the Multimedia Journalism module – the group blog and the module blog. We'll talk more about the former later today. But the basics are pretty straightforward. You have to work in a group to create a blog that will run live for two weeks, culminating in a final news day.
As for the module blog – the idea here is to get you to write and reflect, on a regular basis, on the different aspects of online journalism we've been looking at in the early stages of the module. Each week, I've been asking you to do specific things and write blog posts about them… Here's a list of what I've asked you to do so far, with links to the relevant bit on the blog:
- Write a review of an interesting piece of multimedia journalism
- Analyse and review a blog from the list of links I posted
- Follow some interesting people on Twitter and then write something about journalists could use Twitter effectively
- Set up Google Reader and use it for a week and then write about how useful you found it
- Do the same for Google News – you need to personalise it
- Analyse and review the design of two of the big news media websites I linked to, using the concepts and ideas we talked about in class. Say which one you think is the best and which is the worst
- Analyse the use of video on one of the big news media websites I linked to (we're going to do this today)
I may get you to write one more thing next week – some research and competitor analysis to help with the editorial development of your group blog… Word counts on these posts is kind of up to you. I'm not longing for long essays for each one, more interesting ideas and signs that you've used the the things I've shown you and thought a bit about how useful they are to journalists.
You also have to write several critical evaluations on your module blog towards the end of the module. I'll talk in more detail about how to write a critical evaluation later on. But basically, you will have to write short critical analyses of:
- Your video work
- Your audio work
- The group blog
- What you've learned about online journalism and its potential
Deadline for finishing the module blog is still a way off – Thursday April 7th – the day before the end of term…
Today we'll spend a bit of time going over what you have to do for the module blog assessment. We'll also do some preparatory research for the group blog assessment. And we'll try to fit in some analysis of the way big news media websites use video.
Here's a few links we might look at quickly in class today:
I know a lot of you weren't that impressed by the live blogs we looked at. The Louse and the Flea sparked an interesting discussion when it laid into The Guardian's live blog covering the earthquake in New Zealand. It drew responses from:
The Guardian's Martin Belam
Journalist/blogger Adam Tinworth
Kevin Anderson, who worked at The Guardian and the BBC
All worth looking at – as are a couple of posts on the subject from Martin Belam, covering talks by The Guardian's bloggers – one from Matt Wells, the overall blogs editor and one from one of the site's leading live bloggers, Andrew Sparrow.
Here's a couple of interesting pieces re visualisation:
A piece by Jonathan Stray about the UN Global Pulse Google Map of unrest in the Middle East
A new site called Churnalism, which sets out to show how much of a particular press release makes it into specific news stories…
One of the things we might do today is look at a few big news sites and try to work out which one has the best design… Here's some we might look at:
We'll talk about this a bit in class – I'd like you to write a short post comparing two of the sites – the one that has the best design and the one that has the worst – in your opinion. You need to justify your opinion with some analysis that uses some of the online design terminology we'll talk about today.
Adding video to most blogs from a service like YouTube is pretty easy. You just have to paste in some code to a post, which will then embed the video. The embed code is different to the standard url (web address) which you use when linking
Go to a video you like on YouTube and look on the right of the page for the embed code. You need to copy that. Then start a new post on your blogs and paste the embed code in where you want the video to go. We'll go through this in class – it's very straightforward.
There are other video sharing sites online aside from YouTube. One interesting one, aimed at artists and people who create their own video is Vimeo. You're not allowed to post material you haven't created yourself to Vimeo – so no clips from TV shows. And there are weekly upload limits. But to compensate, the site lets you post HD video, has some good networking features, looks nice and gives you more options when it comes to embedding video.
To embed Vimeo videos on WordPress blogs, don't use the embed code. Instead, follow the guidlines on the WordPress Vimeo page. There are guidelines on WordPress for embedding video from various video sharing sites – but perhaps the simplest way to do it is to add a Vodpod button to your browser toolbar. once you've configured it, all you need to do is click it to embed the video you're watching to your blog
One way to learn about online design is to look at examples of badly designed web pages. Web Pages That Suck is a site that highlights some of the worst examples of online design. You'd think that, with the web becoming more and more a part of everyday life, they'd have less to work with. But it seems not – there are still plenty of dodgy sites out there for them to poke fun at.
In fact, you get the feeling that a lot of the sites they highlight have been designed that way on purpose to get attention from the site.
Today I want you to find the worst designed site they've highlighted over the last few years. Check the following links and try to decide which is the worst site – the site that deserves to win the overall award for awfulness.
- The Worst Websites of 2010
- The Ugliest Websites of 2009
- The Worst Business Websites of 2009
- The Most Over the Top Websites of 2009
- The Worst Websites of 2008
- The Worst Websites of 2007 – Part 1
- The Worst Websites of 2007 – Part 2
- The Worst Websites of 2007 – Part 3
- The Worst Websites of 2006
- The Worst Websites of 2005
As you look through, think about what's wrong with these sites – why don't they work? What's wrong with them? Is it the graphics? Is it the site organisation? Is it the way you move through the site? Try to come up with a list and pick your candidate for worst site. We'll then talk about it class.