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#wef12: Six lessons in tablet storytelling

September 4th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Events, Mobile, Multimedia, Newspapers
Copyright: C. Regina on Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Image by C.Regina on Flickr. Some rights reserved

At last year’s World Editors Forum in Vienna we reported on the 10 great tips shared by Mario Garcia, founder of Garcia Media, on creating news apps.

At this year’s event in Kiev Garcia is back, and he shared with delegates some of the lessons learned in the past couple of years when it comes to storytelling on tablet devices.

In summary, here are just six of the takeaways to be gained from his presentation:

  • The editor today needs to undertand the sociology of how readers use tablet platforms and remember the multimedia approach

Garcia urged editors to not think it is all about the newspaper. “No one expects to have the breaking news there,” he said.

In the eyes of consumer, digital is current, print is old, not abandoned, but old.

… Still newspapers write headlines as if they’re the only forms of communication these days.

He added that news outlets need to show they are a multimedia house. Therefore “no marketing campaign should be based on one of the platforms”.

  • Be visual and make something happen

A main point made by Garcia was about the importance of the visual element on tablet devices, where users “don’t just want a photo”, he said. “They want something to happen”.

He suggested that every four or five screens users should be offered “a moment where the finger touches the screen and something happens”.

Whatever it is, in the tablet you can not be linear.

… If all you do is turn the pages, readers will not be happy.

Garcia also referred to a Poynter study due to be published in the next few weeks, which found the majority of people preferred the “flipboard” visual style, with photo galleries and videos.

  • The story is what counts

While lessons have been learned about tablet storytelling, content remains king.

Garcia offered a new definiton of news, as “anything you know now that you did not know 15 minutes ago, or 15 seconds ago”.

And this piece of news is “what counts”, not the platform it is distributed on.

  • Understand the pattern of consumption during the day

Garcia said research shows most people use tablets after 6pm in the evening, while the average person reading on the tablet at night has the television on at the same time.

  • Users are willing to pay on tablets

The research also found that those who use tablets are more willing to pay for content than online users.

With that in mind, he highlighted the potential for news outlets – bearing in mind the 85 million iPads in the market today, which he said may reach “more than 165 million soon”.

  • Print has not been abandoned

And despite all this, “there is a place for print as a lean-back platform,” Garcia stressed. “Print is eternal, but only if it adapts”.

And “paper has the power of disconnect”, with print readers able to “totally unplug and read.”

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National Readership Survey infographic illustrates rise in digital magazine and newspaper reading

August 3rd, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Journalism, Magazines, Mobile, Newspapers

Here is an infographic from the National Readership Survey which aims to illustrate the growth in readership of newspapers and magazines on tablets, e-readers and mobiles.

According to a release it’s the first in a new series of infographics to be produced by the NRS “to demonstrate the breadth of insight within the NRS reports”, which are released each quarter:

It is no secret that these platforms are developing at an incredibly fast rate, and that media brands are increasingly being consumed on these digital devices. In fact, over the last year, readership on tablets and e-readers has doubled. However, what we need to remember is that however ubiquitous these devices appear to be in London – you cannot help but spot every kind of device if you commute on the tube – multi-digital platform ownership is still relatively low nationwide, with just 1.4 per cent of the population owning both a tablet and an e-reader.

The figures visualised below refer to data collected by the NRS for the period of April 2011 to March 2012. They include a rise in use of tablets and e-readers from 1.5 per cent to 3.2 per cent for reading magazines and from 2.4 per cent to 5 per cent for newspapers.

The NRS also reports a rise in mobile app readership of “publishing content” of 30 per cent. Readership of magazines grew from 2.7 per cent to 3.5 per cent on mobile apps, and readership of newspapers from 4.7 per cent to 6 per cent.

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NESTA director ‘very pleased’ with number of applications to hyperlocal project

May 31st, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Hyperlocal, Mobile

A hyperlocal initiative from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) has seen over 165 applications made for its pot of £500,000 in seed funding. Applicants face stiff competition as only 10 will receive the money and guidance from the charity and its partners.

The Destination Local project aims to stimulate the hyperlocal media sector with innovation in mobile and location technologies. As Journalism.co.uk reported last month the charity produced a 15,000 word report on its vision for the future of hyperlocal media in the UK. The report highlighted the penetration of GPS capable smartphones as a key innovation opportunity for hyperlocals.

NESTA say it is encouraged by the number of applications received for the project. Director of creative economy programmes Jon Kingsbury told Journalism.co.uk:

We are never really sure (of the the level of interest) when we have a call for funding but I’m really pleased with the number of applications. It demonstrates that there’s some demand and willingness in hyperlocal to be innovative and sustainable.

He said he is also pleased by the range of applications they have received:

What we are looking at is a broad mix of hyperlocal services. There is the provision of news and information but also other ways of benefiting communities with mobile and local technology such as local service provision.

One of the applicants, Simon Perry of VentnorBlog, says the competition has created a lot of interest among hyperlocals:

It has stimulated a lot of thought, people had to think a lot when putting their bids in. I know when we were going through ideas we went through various iterations before we decided on the one for our bid. I think it has really stimulated the market just by having the competition. It’s got people thinking ‘ok, what are we going to do with mobile?’

NESTA have produced a YouTube playlist of all the applicants’s pitches for the project and have produced a map showing where all these have come from:

[iframe src="https://www.google.com/fusiontables/embedviz?viz=MAP&q=select+col0+from+1r2Z9WBXoXuhB2cDCc2hcO3zGqUj2uubbUHMysOQ&h=false&lat=54.1045584605061&lng=-3.0414486500000066&z=6&t=1&l=col0" width="540" height="450"]

 

The Destination Local judging panel have until 28 June 28 to sift through the applications to select the 10 projects who will be eligible for the £50,0000 funding.

Source: Simon Perry via hyperlocal n0tice

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Magazine app developer praises Windows 8, abandons Android

Digital media developer Daniel Sharp has praised the next version of the Windows operating system for its ease of use when programming.

Writing for the Kernel, the Stonewash co-founder states the advantages of developing digital media products for Microsoft’s as-yet-unreleased operating system over Google’s Android OS:

I’ve just come from another testing meeting. Seven of us around a table looking at an Android app that’s in the mid-stages of development. We’ve found unique issues on each device, every device on the table was running a different version of Android, with different resolutions, capabilities and specifications. Getting this right is going to be time consuming…

Meanwhile, for the past seven weeks we’ve also been working on a super-secret project building magazine apps for the Windows 8 launch. In those seven weeks, we’ve managed to create a solid first version, that works across all resolutions, laptops, desktops and tablets, whether they use a touch screen, pen or mouse. Development was easy.

He continues:

The fact that you can develop native applications for Windows using HTML and JavaScript is huge: in our case, it meant that every single engineer in our company already knew how to develop for Windows.

If you’re looking at a smartphone application then Windows 8 isn’t for you; it’s not for smartphones. But if you’re looking at a tablet application, take a good hard look at Android and the figures. I took one look at them and I’m not convinced.

And that’s why I have paused all our Android development in favour of Windows 8.

Earlier this week the Financial Times revealed that it is working on an app for Windows 8, ahead of the autumn tablet release.

Stonewash develop frameworks for news and magazine publishers to create bespoke tablet applications. Their clients include lifestyle magazine Lusso, Investment & Pensions Europe and the Henley Standard newspaper.

Read the full article in the Kernel here

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Tablets and mobiles boost BBC iPlayer use

The BBC has reported a 94 per cent year-on-year surge in the use of its iPlayer TV and radio catch-up service on mobile and tablet devices.

New figures covering the first four months of 2012 show 15 per cent of all programme requests made in April were on tablets or mobiles – some 28 million streamed programmes in a month.

The total number of requests for TV and radio programmes rose 24 per cent year-on-year to 190 million in the period from January to the end of April.

Radio use of the iPlayer was boosted by demand for football coverage on BBC Radio 5Live. Among the most listened-to radio programmes in April were 5Live’s coverage of the Champions League (Barcelona v Chelsea), Premier League (Manchester City v Manchester United) and FA Cup (Liverpool v Everton).

The BBC said it would publish iPlayer statistics on a monthly basis from now on. The report does not include requests for web-only content (such as online news clips) – only requests for full-length programmes which have been transmitted on a TV channel or radio station.

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Social magazine app Flipboard adds audio

May 16th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Multimedia

Social magazine app Flipboard has added audio, allowing users to listen to a podcast, an interview or music while flipping through the pages of the app.

Flipboard is an iPhone and iPad app (soon to be on Android) that allows users to sync with their Twitter, Google Reader, Facebook and other accounts to receive personalised news content.

Flipboard has partnered with SoundCloud for audio (which provides content including Journalism.co.uk’s podcasts), National Public Radio and Public Radio International (PRI).

As The Next Web reports:

It’s a marvellous new way to distribute and listen to audio content, one I might just use specifically for podcasts. The user experience is unquestionably superior to iTunes.

And how long before we see Flipboard dive into video? It’s somewhat surprising it hasn’t decided to explore the video space first. The social magazine already includes a video category but is limited in sources and isn’t ideal for video browsing. With no clear winner in the video magazine space (see ShowYou and TNW Startup Rally winner Shelby.tv), Flipboard can still make it its own.

BBC News and TechCrunch both have details on the Flipboard development.

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The future of video journalism: What will audiences be watching?

May 16th, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Events, Mobile, Multimedia

Still from 1929 film Man with a Movie Camera directed by Dziga Vertov, via Wikimedia Commons

I was asked to give a talk to a BBC Global Video away-day on the future of video, looking at what their audiences will be watching in the coming years.

The Global Video department was launched last year and makes video to run cross-platform in multiple languages on all the BBC’s Global News outlets: World News, BBC.com and 27 World Service language services. The team never makes a video just for one language or site, changing the voiceover and translating the film into two or more languages.

The future of video journalism

Below is an outline of the talk I gave on the day:

What will audiences be watching?

There are countless examples of innovations in video journalism, including many from the 40 videos a week produced by Global Video.

Here are a few examples of trends in online video journalism and innovations using emerging technologies.

Documentary:  Just as long-form journalism has a place in the digital sphere, so too do long-form video documentaries using TV and cinema conventions of storytelling.

For example, here is the Guardian’s 32 minute ‘I will never be cut': Kenyan girls fight back against genital mutilation, which recently won a Webby award.

Web native: As online video has developed, it has found its own style and some filmmakers are telling stories using a new set of rules. Multimedia producer Adam Westbrook has written many articles arguing for online video to encourage subjects to look directly at the camera, abandon the “noddy” (the way video often hides an edit by showing a clip of the interviewer nodding) and instead add a flash to white or black, acknowledging the edit to the viewer.

Storytelling: With the advent of online came new storytelling techniques such as audio slideshows, graphics and ways of visualising data. The BBC Global Video unit has its own fantastic examples, including this video made by Tom Hannen using Adobe After Effects and brilliantly telling the story of blood doping.

The Economist too is experimenting with storytelling in words. Here is an example.

Videos filmed on small, cheap cameras: The Global Video unit itself is equipping its journalists in the field with video news gathering skills. Elise Wicker from the department has written about how she has been training staff overseas to use Kodak cameras to capture footage.

Here is an example of an Al Jazeera documentary filmed entirely on an iPhone. Syria: Songs of defiance is a first-person film made by a journalist who spent many months in Syria but could not risk being seen with a video camera. This film, complete with time lapses shows how a great film can be made in the process of the edit.

Contextual video: Advances in web browsers allow new possibilities. Here are three examples made using Popcorn JS, a JavaScript open-source library from Mozilla allowing video to link to real-time web content such as tweets, Google Maps and Wikipedia entries.

History in the Streets is an audio recording uploaded to SoundCloud with locations linked so that when the audio refers to a place, the viewer is taken to that location on Google Street View and can navigate and explore.

Open Images, Open Data is a Dutch film showing a video surrounded by real-time links to content from several sites, including Wikipedia.

This example of a film about freedom of the press in France links to the source documents, demonstrating how journalists can link to data or research to back up a claim.

Development of Mozilla’s Popcorn Maker tool could allow video journalists without coding skills to produce similar video.

How will audiences be finding and sharing content?

Social sharing is key to the future of video and the format lends itself to a social experience with YouTube demonstrating how videos can go viral.

Social is overtaking search as a way to discover content. Facebook overtook Google in March as a traffic driver to the Guardian, largely down to the news outlet’s “frictionless sharing” Facebook app.

New audiences will be finding and frequently watching video on social networks, whether they be Facebook, Twitter, or Chinese site Renren.

Video is often a component of a wider narrative too. Storify is a free tool allowing anyone to curate a story by dragging in tweets, Flickr photos, SoundCloud audio and video from YouTube and Vimeo.

And platforms such as Storify, YouTube, Vimeo, Bambuser, and many more have their own communities and networks too.

Here is an example of what Mark Boas, one of the Knight-Mozilla Fellows, is doing. He is embedded within the newsroom of Al Jazeera and looking at how you can socially share content without detracting from the experience of viewing a video.

Boas told me that part of what is driving this is social, partly the second screen, partly web-enabled TV, partly browser technologies.

He is experimenting with social sharing text from within The fight for Amazonia. Content is pulled live from a Google Doc, he explained.

Writing on his blog, Boas describes the possibilities of social.

Technology is available now to allow people to chat and comment over the web. Certainly this is an experience we could build in. Imagine if you could see all the people currently watching the same programme as you and interact with them.

Boas believes this social layer is key but that it should not “significantly distract from the main content”.

He thinks the social experience benefits from integrating existing social networks and will “perhaps create new ones surrounding the video medium”.

People like to share their experiences in general and this certainly seems to hold true of video and media in general.

He has ideas for future implementations, including “the use of word accurate hyperlinked transcripts, full support for mobile devices and second-screen synchronisation.”

In an email Boas told me:

I think many like me are experimenting just now. I myself am very interested in making experiences that don’t distract too much from the principle act of watching video but I feel that the challenge here is to allow the viewer to choose the level of interactivity and make that choice as plain as obvious and seamless as possible.

3. What will people be watching video on?

Web-enabled TV: Web technologies and television are converging with the advent of web-enabled TV.

The New York Times earlier this month asked “Why can’t TV navigation be more like a tablet?” That looks likely with the next generation of viewing options, including video on demand available on games consoles and an increasing number of TV apps.

Web-enabled TV is expected to offer users an experience more like navigating using a tablet, with viewers able to control the screen by a series of touch screen gestures and swipes.

If rumours of the new Apple TV are to be believed, this may take the form of a Siri voice-activated TV made by Apple (a later development than Apple TV, a box which is plugged into a regular TV to stream iTunes content).

It is also reported that set-top manufacturer LG will be offering televisions with Google TV later this month, with features including voice activation, the ability for viewers to watch video-on-demand content and web videos and control of content by touch screen and swipes.

Google TV will also allow friends or contacts in different locations to watch video together as it will incorporate Google Hangouts, the Skype-like video option from Google Plus.

Desktops/laptops: BBC Global Video’s audience may access content on different connections than those that spring to mind when you first think of web video.

The number of home broadband connections are low in some of the countries covered by the 27 language services, with large proportions of audiences connecting with dongles and other 3G connections in some countries. Video may be easier to stream on a 3G connection at certain times of the day, and impossible at busier times.

Audiences may also use proxies to circumvent internet restrictions in countries such as China, which can give a slow connection.

Tablets: Tablets are increasingly popular in some of the countries served by BBC Global Video, and take-up is low in other countries.

Whether they become an important platform in poorer countries remains to be seen but there is no doubt that they have already become important for more affluent audiences.

And tablets can provide a beautifully tactile viewing experience, with readers encouraged to use the touch screen to play a video embedded within a news story.

Mobile: The popularity of mobile and likelihood of possibilities for video viewing should not be ignored.

It is worth noting that 87 per cent of the world population has a mobile phone, compared with just 8.5 per cent having fixed broadband. According to stats on Mobithinking, there are 5.9 billion phones compared with half a billion fixed broadband connections.

In Jordan the number of mobiles exceeds the population with 6.2 million phones to 6 million people, according to Ayman Salah, a technology expert based in the Middle East.

In Egypt there are 74 million mobiles for a population of 84 million, Salah said, with mobiles being introduced commercially in 1997. That compares with 11 million landlines, first introduced almost 100 years ago in 1920.

The BBC World Service sites and BBC.com are well served by mobile sites that recognise the phone type and format video accordingly.

But of course mobiles are not all Androids, BlackBerrys and iPhones. Smartphones are less common in poorer countries, and different brands dominate. According to the Economist, Nokia ranks with Coca-Cola as Africa’s most recognised brand.

So what is the future of video in Africa if smartphone penetration is low? I asked mobile expert Peter Paul Koch (also known as PPK online).

“Don’t focus too much on smartphones,” he warned.

Today’s feature phones are getting more and more functionality, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they add video in the near future. The line between smartphones and feature phones is blurring, and pretty soon we’ll see “feature phones” (as in cheap) with “smartphone” functionality.

And video is growing on mobile. Cisco predicts that two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic will be video by 2016.

Mobile video will increase 25-fold between 2011 and 2016, accounting for over 70 percent of total mobile data traffic by the end of the forecast period.

Mobile is intimate. It is in your pocket, it is personal and is there when you have a spare five minutes to watch a web video.

What is the future of video? With a growing trend in social sharing, an ever-expanding range of devices and internet connections, including to mobile, the future is bright.

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Tweetbot partners with Storify to allow Twitter conversation sharing

Tweetbot, a Twitter client app for iOS and a previous Journalism.co.uk app of the week, has added Storify integration.

Users of the iPhone and iPad Tweetbot app can now easily Storify a conversation they spot on Twitter.

There is no need to move away from Tweetbot to Storify, a tool to allow the curation of social media content, all is done with a swipe and three taps within the app.

Just swipe right on a tweet that is part of a conversation, tweet the conversation and it is automatically Storified.

If you don’t have a Storify account one will be created.

The 2.3 update was released yesterday. Those with the app can update, new users can download from the App Store for £1.99.

Here is a Storify explaining how it works.

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When HuffPo UK found an iPhone more useful than a newsroom

April 30th, 2012 | No Comments | Posted by in Mobile

On Friday the Huffington Post UK offices were evacuated due to a three-hour siege that closed Tottenham Court Road.

When journalists found themselves 100 yards from a breaking news story, they “grabbed phones, though sadly [they] didn’t grab chargers and laptops” and went into to the street, the title’s executive editor Stephen Hull told Journalism.co.uk.

Hull used his iPhone to share pictures and videos from the scene, adding 5,000 followers to his Twitter account in the process.

He posted videos taken on his phone on YouTube, including one of a woman called Abby who was the target of the attack.

The videos went viral, receiving 32,000 and 200,000 views respectively and were picked up by mainstream TV broadcasters.

Hull told Journalism.co.uk:

One of the great things about the Huffington Post is that we can run the entire website from our bedrooms.

We had staff working at home who were due to come in later in the day. They were able to pick up the running of the site and update the front page with splash images.

Hull’s Storify detailing the process is available here.

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Storify stories now on news reader app Pulse

April 19th, 2012 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Mobile, Social media and blogging

Curated storytelling tool Storify has partnered with news reader app Pulse.

The move marks Storify’s first syndication deal and sees curated stories by Storify users such as Al Jazeera’s the Stream, the Washington Post and the White House communications team available on the social newsreader app.

Pulse, which is available for the iPad, iPhone, Android, Kindle Fire and Nook, allows readers to chose to add their favourite news providers and feeds giving a personalised reading experience.

A Storified blog post by the company explains how to add your Storify creations to your personalised Pulse app.

You can also see your stories – or any account’s stories – on Pulse by subscribing to the RSS feed at the top of Storify profile pages. Then call the feeds up from Google Reader on Pulse. You’ll be able to see all those accounts’ stories on Pulse from then on.
For more on the syndication deal see this Storify.

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