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#Tip: Watch this video on how to make a film

Video camera Flickr credit

If you shoot and edit online videos or you are thinking of getting started, here is a two-minute guide called ‘how to make a film’.

Online video producer Adam Westbrook has shot the guide and demonstrates why shooting and editing a film is “a piece of cake”.

How to make a film from Adam Westbrook on Vimeo.

Adam Westbrook is leading a one-day course in online video journalism for Journalism.co.uk on 18 April. The details are here.

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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – recording a better interview

December 6th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Multimedia, Top tips for journalists

Video journalist Adam Westbrook has shared a presentation online with 10 tips for recording a better interview.

Written for students at Kingston University, the tips are aimed at broadcast journalists.

Tips include:

  • Know your character before starting your story
  • Ask warm up questions to make interviewees feel comfortable
  • Be enthusiastic – but silent
  • Ask double-barrelled questions

Westbrook’s 10 tips for recording a better video (or audio) interview are at this link.

Adam Westbrook will be presenting in a session on online video at news:rewired – media in motion on 3 February. The news:rewired agenda is here.

Tipster: Sarah Marshall

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at Journalism.co.uk email us using this link– we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – avoiding common video storytelling mistakes

Multimedia journalist and video journalism lecturer Adam Westbrook has pulled together a list of what he views as common mistakes made in video production, and also offers his tips for how to avoid them. Mistakes include not prioritising audio and producing video based on television for the internet, rather than exploiting the opportunities online.

Read his post in full here.

Tipster: Rachel McAthy

If you have a tip you would like to submit to us at Journalism.co.uk email us using this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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#jpod: Lessons in digital storytelling from Storify and the Guardian

October 7th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Multimedia, Online Journalism, Podcast

How can journalists best use the latest digital storytelling tools?

In this podcast, Journalism.co.uk technology correspondent Sarah Marshall looks at current trends in integrated storytelling, hearing from multimedia producer Adam Westbrook, co-founder of Storify Xavier Damman and executive producer for Guardian.co.uk Stephen Abbott.

All three gave presentations at Journalism.co.uk’s news:rewired – connected journalism event which was held at MSN HQ, London yesterday (Thursday, 6 October).

You can sign up to our iTunes podcast feed for future audio.

 

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Questions on use of social media during London riot coverage

Over on his blog, Andy Dickinson, who teaches digital and online journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, reflects on a question he posed via Twitter last night, while monitoring activity on the platform in relation to the violence taking place in London and beyond.

He said his question was prompted by Tweets from journalists outside London stating that nothing was happening on their patch. But other Twitter users were quick to cast doubt on his statement.

His blog post details the points made, but one of their points was that the value of what a journalist reports is not always about news but the provision of information. That, as a trusted source, journalists could let the online community know whether or not there was substance in rumours circulating on sites such as Twitter, that violence was building elsewhere.

Ultimately Dickinson “held up his hands” (via a hashtag), and his subsequent blog post today (9 August), reflecting on the issue, and some elements of the argument he still stands by, gives some food for thought about the use of social media by journalists in these sorts of situations.

Despite protestations of its importance ‘no news’ statements like that would never make the front page or head of a bulletin.  As Neil Macdonald pointed out that they where [sic] more information than news. Journalism as a source of information – very valid.

A few tweets did quote authoritative voices – police etc. That was better. Some proper information in there. Many did not.

Online video journalist Adam Westbrook also offers his thoughts in this blog post, on what he calls the “messy” situation for the media using social media/user generated content. He got caught up in the so-called “mess” when retweeting video footage which was originally linked to the wrong location.

On the plus side, I do think real-time web’s ability to self correct is extraordinary. My blunderous retweet was corrected within five minutes. If you don’t mind taking stern words from other users, it’s a rock solid facet to the platform.

However, Twitter being used by journalists, who (hopefully!) question sources and try to verify, is one thing. But non-journalists aren’t necessarily as skeptical of information. A rumour to a journalist could be read as fact by someone else, especially people who are scared.

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#media140 – Get messy with mobile journalism, says Adam Westbrook

April 13th, 2011 | No Comments | Posted by in Broadcasting, Events, Mobile

Quantity over quality – that needs to be the mindset for mobile journalists, UK online video journalist Adam Westbrook said today at the #media140 conference in Barcelona.

While there are similarities between video journalists and mobile journalists, being the latter, by its nature, is about being in a particular place, he said, and the ability to get information out quickly, and in volume.

You need the drive to be where the story is and once you’re there to get as close as you can. You’re not restricted to being close to the action. There is also the mindset of speed … You have to have an ‘always on’ mindset, always carrying your gear with you and always be looking for a story. Switch on and get your phone out and get some coverage straight away.

Because mobile journalism is still so new, you also need to be very willing to experiment. This runs across all spheres of journalism. It is about getting messy, in a way, there is no roadmap, there is no path.

Westbrook opened his presentation with the great example of UK journalist Alex Wood and his colleagues’ coverage of the G20 summit in 2009, despite being kept in a containment area. Unlike the mainstream media, unable to get their tapes out of the area, Wood’s team were able to connect to wifi and report on what was happening using their mobiles.

They sent Tweets and uploaded photos from their phones. For Alex and his colleagues its became quite a landmark moment for their journalism. Because they were mobile they had the advantage over the mainstream media. It really shows the potential that mobile journalism has.

Another practical advantage was illustrated in a photo Westbrook showed next, of a broadcast team filming an interview with numerous members of crew, a camera, autoprompter, lighting and “miles of cable”.

In comparison, the typical mobile journalism setup consists of a camera which doubles up as a phone, a high quality microphone, a mifi connector and a small tripod, he said.

Technology has allowed mobile journalism to happen as it does. Also the infrastructure has improved, there’s wifi in more places and high speed broadband.”

So what could the future hold for mobile journalism? Westbrook’s ideas were:

  • Location based news
  • Geo-tagging
  • Mobile moving mainstream
  • More citizen reporting
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#VOJ10: The realities of multimedia journalism

June 11th, 2010 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Comment, Events

I’m in track 2 of the POLIS/BBC College of Journalism Value of Journalism conference and we’re discussing innovation in journalism, the importance of content and the practicalities of being a multimedia journalist.

It features multimedia journalist and notonthewires co-founder Alex Wood (chair), freelance multimedia journalist Adam Westbrook, CNN journalist and notonthewires co-founder Dominique van Heerden, freelance and former BBC video journalist Angela Saini, and multimedia lecturer and VSC Creative director (and also notonthewires co-founder) Marcus Gilroy-Ware.

Once they introduced themselves, we’re onto the practicalities of the jobs.

Saini, who said she got fed up of the daily pressure of being a VJ, says she’s come full circle and is now spending time on separate radio or print projects – which are of better quality. She also notes that we haven’t yet got an editorial layer of people who have actually been VJs on the ground, who understand the realities of the job. The most successful multimedia journalists are the ones who know their subject inside out, she says. It’s key to be niche. As for the freedom now she’s not a fulltime VJ: “I do much meatier stories… than I did before…”

Someone asks whether there can be too much focus on technology. “What does it enable us to do?” says Gilroy-Ware, answering with a question. There’s too much emphasis on products, he says. Saini adds that she doesn’t see herself as an innovator per se (she’s only just got on Facebook and doesn’t use Twitter) but she’s in the multimedia field. The younger generation don’t feel a pressure to do tech; they do it because they enjoy it.

Adam Westbrook, who has written an e-book on making money online, says he sees enormous potential in self-publishing. But Saini points out the obvious: that her money is still made from the big organisations.

Some very interesting experiences and contributions from the audience: are we misleading students by encouraging them to get in…? Do traditional news orgs understand how multimedia can/should be used…

And someone asks just what is notonthewires; business model etc…

Giroy-Ware says it’s about multimedia journalism being taken seriously: “really embracing the bottom-up cultural change that needs to happen in the news industry.” Van Heerden says it’s about pairing up with big partners. Gilroy-Ware talks about Steve Jobs’ ‘Beatles’ business model and says they’re also looking to the ‘band’ element as a possible commercial opportunity.

Meanwhile a ‘Is Content King?’ poll is running behind the panel, up on the screen, powered by UltraKnowledge. Participants can “#ukn5yes” for YES or “#ukn5no” for … NO. The yeses are leading… (I personally find this one a bit tricky to answer, and don’t know what it really means, but that’s probably for another blog post)

Gilory-Ware says ‘make the journalism you want to make’ – chances are others will like it too. It’s a nice positive note to end on, but I have a feeling not everyone would agree with that.

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#fong: New business bootcamps for journalists from Adam Westbrook

June 4th, 2010 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Business, Events

Freelance multimedia journalist Adam Westbrookauthor of this book and this blog, is planning a series of ‘bootcamps’ to come up with new business ideas for journalism. The idea for the meetings, which Westbrook will host in his own London flat, follows the success of the Future of News Group – a network and series of events set up by Westbrook to discuss, debate and find new ideas for journalism and journalists.

The first Future of News Business Bootcamp will focus on making money from reporting on the developing world and human rights and will run on Tuesday 22 June. The group is limited to six people and the deadline to apply for a place is 11 June. To secure a spot, you need to email a pitch to Adam Westbrook explaining why you need to be at this bootcamp, what your interest in this niche is and (in one line) give an idea for how the niche might be made into business.

“The meet-ups have been running for about six months now and the group has more than 300 members so it’s been going really well. When I set it up I wanted it to be a forum for actual new ideas to emerge, rather than more talk about the future of journalism. The individual meet-ups have been great but I got the sense they’d reverted back to the speaker/Q&A format we see at all the other conferences. I thought of ways I could bring them back to the main mission of the group and realised smaller groups are often better for brainstorming and ideas. They’re going to be really focused sessions, diving straight into what the business models could be and how to package them into profitable products. Fingers crossed one of the bootcamps will bring up a gem,” Westbrook told Journalism.co.uk.

If the first session goes well, Westbrook says he’ll look into holding other ‘bootcamps’ for travel journalism, sport journalism, environmental journalism, local journalism and more.

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Future of News meet-up: Pick a big market, be your own marketing, wear red shoes

I get tired of bloggers and journalists (let’s face it, like me) who spend their time opining about the problems and challenges for journalists. Which is why I’m a fan of Adam Westbrook’s Future of News Group in London, which he founded to discuss the latest in practical solutions for the news biz instead of lofty theory.

So I came down to the latest #FONG meet-up – concerned with “entrepreneurial journalism” – on Tuesday night to find out more. Westbrook – who himself has a very healthy entreprenuerial streak – kicked off the session by admitting, with blunt accuracy, that “lots of us are coming round to the idea that we can be entrepreneurial journalists, but none of us have a bloody clue how.” Here’s Adam’s take on the event, but here’s what I made of it:

Pick a big market, be your own marketing, wear red shoes

First up was Emi Gal, founder of Brainient, a Romanian video advertising start-up – it adds a layer of contextual or affiliate-led ads over any video content. (I’m not entirely sure how this engages with Google/YouTube’s own increasingly profitable overlay ad programme, but that’s for another time…)

24-year-old Gal is a good person to listen to because this is far from his first attempt at making a start-up work. He founded his first business aged 18, a social network which became very successful, and then went on to found an online TV start-up, which he admits “failed big time”. Brainient was one of six winners at the Seedcamp start-up competition in 2009, which landed it $50,000 in seed funding, and Gal has since received more funding.

Gal has lots of advice for would-be entrepreneurs, though much of it is the kind of thing you will hear from other enthusiastic entrepreneurs: things like pick a good co-founder, get the right team, pick a massive market, figure out the “minimal viable product” that people will pay for. Check out coverage of this Techcrunch’s GeeknRolla conference for similar advice, particularly the excellent Morten Lund (funded Skype at an early stage, made gazillions, went bankrupt) and Rummble founder Andrew J Scott.

But for me the best advice Gal had for news professionals looking to either sell themselves of a product they’ve built is that “you are marketing, your product is marketing, your mum is marketing.” In other words, everything you do as an entrepreneur should contribute to the buzz about your business.

Being personable and memorable when meeting people is a big part of that: it sounds flippant, but Gal made a big deal of his vibrantly red shoes. But, he says, at least it makes him memorable.

But how do you fund journalism about human rights?

Up next was YooDoo, which provides advice and tools for new businesses. Tony Heywood and Nick Saalfield talked about what they do – I wasn’t entirely sure how they might specifically help news entrepreneurs but I’m sure they’ll offer help to some people out there and the service is free.

This was Saalfield’s harsh but accurate approximation of the print media: “Start feeling sorry for newspapers and publishers. They’re badly managed, they work very slowly, they’re fragile and not very agile.”

I was more interested in the debate that started after their talk. Deborah Bonello – aka @thevideoreport – founded Mexicoreporter.com and carved out a niche as a multimedia freelance journalist (she spoke at the Frontline Club alongside Adam last month at a great event on freelance journalism).

Bonello hit the nail right on head by describing the economic barrier for anyone wanting to make a living from original content: the FT can make money from writing about stock markets and emerging markets; Gizmodo sells ads by writing about gadgets – this is all actionable content, stuff that will inspire readers to click on an add or affiliate link and buy something.

But what about reporting focusing on human rights? Who’s going to click on an ad surrounding that? She said:

The problem is, if you’re not writing about the decisions about why people make investments, [but about things like] immigration, or culture, art… there’s not that same market for people that might like to pay for that.

As she so rightly says, “as journalists we’re taught to questions the powers.” The plan for most people who go into the industry – I would say – is not to think about how to give the capitalist classes exactly what they need to make more money.

Here’s what content entrepreneur Evan Rudowski said on paywalls on PCUK in February:

The paid content opportunity is greatest if the content is unique, actionable, targeted at a relevant niche, frequently updated and from a credible or trusted source.

Availability of free alternatives can be a limiting factor, but not the determining factor – there are barrel-loads of free content about wine, for example, but plenty of people are nevertheless willing to pay FT wine columnist Jancis Robinson £69 a year for her unique expertise.

So “actionable” is one of the things journalism needs to be to be profitable. But could you tick the other boxes on Rudowski’s list and still make a living? Or, more likely, is there a public or charitable solution to this problem that takes news production out of the corporate, profit-driven, assembly line model?

I have no “bloody clue” either but I’m looking forward to more FONG meet-ups in the hope of getting closer to some answers.

Patrick Smith is a freelance journalist, event organiser and formerly a correspondent for paidContent:UK and Press Gazette. He blogs at psmithjournalist.com and is @psmith on twitter.

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Next Generation Journalist: how to make hyperlocal work

May 19th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Business, Hyperlocal, Niche

This series of 10 moneymaking tips for journalists began on Adam Westbrook’s blog, but continues exclusively on Journalism.co.uk from today. Adam’s e-book, Next Generation Journalist: 10 New Ways to Make Money in Journalism will be available to download in full on 20 May.

08. set up a hyperlocal website

OK, so setting up a hyperlocal blog is hardly a new way to do things in journalism. But making money from it is pretty new and, seemingly, still pretty rare.

In the UK for example, only a handful of hyperlocal blogs, such as Ventor Blog, SR2 and SE1 are getting the sorts of eyeballs and ad revenue to make a living.

Thing is, hyperlocal is an important and (if done correctly) profitable niche for the next generation journalist; we’re just not going about it right.

Setting up a blog, writing loads of local content and hoping to bring in local ad revenue alone is a tough gig. At first you’re unlikely to get the hits you need to bring in enough cash. Google Adwords is becoming something of a byword for false promises of cash among website owners.

If you want to maximise your advertising revenue, a product like Addiply is a really good bet, and is it seems to be bringing in better results for those who use it on a local level. Advertisers could expect to pay around £30 a month, although it varies from site to site.

But I really think for a hyperlocal website to work – in fact, for any web based content product to work – the ultimate aim must be to make ad revenue as small a slice of the pie as possible.

The less your business relies on ad revenue, the less vulnerable you are to the inevitable ups and downs of the market.

Other ways to make hyperlocal work

Have a look at yesterday’s post on my blog, where I talk about a local news success story – thebusinessdesk.com.  Set up by David Parkin, it now has three regional business sites in Yorkshire, the North-West and Birmingham.

Parkin told last week’s Local Heroes Conference he expects to turnover £1 million this year.

Where does the money come from? Ad revenue yes, but that’s only a part of it. Firstly, thebusinessdesk.com has a niche (local financial news) and a wealthy target audience (business people).

It has a mailing list of 37,000 subscribers who get a daily email of business news, which is sponsored. They have an iPhone app and run events.

It’s a successful model – and one which needs to be employed by hyperlocal bloggers. Don’t just process listings, and re-write press releases; become a major part of your community. Become a leader in your community.

Be the voice for those whose voices don’t get heard. Run regular events so you can meet readers face-to-face. Run pub quizzes and pocket the profits.  Sell products, take a slice of restaurant bookings through your website, charge for listings. Don’t just maintain a website – build a mailing list and send them news direct to their inbox. Get that mailing list sponsored by local businesses.

If you’ve got any good stories about how you’re making hyperlocal work, I’d love to hear them.

Interested in niche and hyperlocal? Looking for new ideas for specialist journalism? Attend Journalism.co.uk’s upcoming event: news:rewired – the nouveau niche. Follow the link to find out more.

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