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February 03 2012


LIVE: Session 1A – Online video

Most publishers will have at least dipped their toe into the pool of online video, but what does it take to really make a splash in this area, and reap the traffic rewards? This session will feature innovative case studies of cutting-edge online video which can enhance the way content is presented and shared, as well as top tips from experienced online video journalists, publishers and those leading key developments in web-native video about the opportunities to be exploited through the online medium.

With: Christian Heilmann, Mozilla Popcorn; Josh de la Mare, editor of video, Financial Times; John Domokos, video producer, the Guardian; David Dunkley Gyimah, video journalist, academic and consultant.



With HTML5 the video becomes just another page element which can be edited and overlayed. “The timestamp is the glue.”



“video is a black hole on the web” – Google cannot find the content. To make it more ‘findable’ we must use a great headline and separate our content out from the presentation. If the text can be separated it out from the video (eg using Universal Subtitles) you can edit text after publishing video. Google can find the text and it helps readers to skip to the bit of the video they want.

HTML5 video allows for all of that.



He says when it comes to video online, shorter is better – otherwise people get fidgety and start checking Twitter or FarmVille!

Now it’s Chris Heilmann of Mozilla Popcorn – he says he has a background in radio.



David Dunkley Gyimah is up next – a video journalist, academic and artist in residence at the Southbank, apparently!
Reportage in 1991/2 was “the YouTube of the BBC back then” – young and disruptive.
It all comes back to cinema. You need to get people to feel something, and to do that you need to experiment with image and movement and how best to capture that.



“we’re prone to following trends when we should also focus on exemplars” – Gyimah studies legendary cinematic directors. He also recommends Media Storm as an exemplar for online video.



Question: “isn’t the FT just putting TV news online?”

A: we have a mixture of polished content and more raw, on the ground news. That seems to be what the FT audience want, but again, it’s an evolving medium. We definitely aim for much short videos online – almost always under 5 minutes.


“The human face is absolutely crucial” – the individual details that help you to understand the wider story.

Josh de la Mare closes by reminding us that “nothing is sacred” – the medium is still evolving and there’s no stable formula for producing online video.


The FT has had a studio for about 3 years. FT video produces short comment and interview clips that go deeper into niche angles of the broader story.

FT also use on-site camera crews and provide theirjournalists with flip cams, encouraging them to shoot footage all over the world.



Josh de la Mare: FT mostly uses talking heads because that’s most appropriate for our audience.
Video can get to the emotional heart of a story. The FT used video to represent the human side to the impact of 9/11.



User generated content (UGC) is not a free and easy way to get great video clips!

The Guardian is exploring ways to engage with readers using multimedia. Domokos shows us an example which worked – people speaking out against disability living allowance cuts. These videos worked because the subjects had a real personal reason to produce them. The raw result is also not something a traditional camera crew could ever have got by treating them as “case studies”. 

Every time we use video, we must be using it because it’s the RIGHT way to tell the story, not the easy way


The Online Video session has kicked off with moderator David Hayward from BBC College of Journalism.

Follow the twitter hash tag #newsrw

May 27 2011


#newsrw: Making sense of the numbers in data journalism

The next big developments in data journalism is live data and also getting your audience involved, according the Martin Stabe, an interactive producer of FT.com.

He was one of four data journalists giving tips on what is in the data journalism toolkit and advice on tools, many of which are free and how to find the data and clean it.

James Ball, data journalist, the Guardian investigations team, worked on the WikiLeaks cables and  discussed the “use and abuse of statistics”.

He showed “a really awful infographic” on the amount of water it takes to make a pizza and a slice of bread.

“You don’t have to do must research to realise that is just tosh,” he said.

“We have to sense-check numbers.” He gave the example of culture secretary Jeremy Hunt giving expected TV viewers for the Royal Wedding of the unrealistic figure of two billion. The estimated audience was 300 million.

He asked: “Why might it matter?” And explained the dangers of bad statistics and bad journalism. “The best bit of your toolkit is understanding a bit of maths,” he advised.

Kevin Anderson, data journalism trainer and digital strategist, trained as a journalist in US, gave more tips on tools. One of the revolutions is access to data, the other is the access to tools, he said.

One tool in his kit is Google Docs. Google Spreadsheets, which Anderson used when he was at the Guardian and recommended the OUseful blog.

“You can import data live data feed,” he said, and suggests collecting your own data in a form. You can ask questions, including multiple choice, and embed the form it into a story.

For easy mapping tools he advises Google and Zeemaps. Once you have the data he said the next process is “link scraping”.

You can “grab data” from existing sources. He gives an example of using Outwit Hub, a plugin which works with Firefox, which allows you to pull in links, with the URLs, from any search and then export it as a Google Spreadsheet or SQL.

Anderson also recommends tools to order data from text. He gives the example of OpenCalais, a Thomson Reuters tool, which “allows you to see patterns in your own coverage” and connections between stories.

He also pointed journalists towards ThinkMap and gave the example of ‘Who Runs Hong Kong’, a data visualisation showing the connections of power.

“The ability for news organisations to extract more value through data journalism is a huge opportunity,” he said.

Martin Stabe, interactive producer, FT.com, who, like Anderson, is orginally from the states, described how data-driven news stories at FT.com are handled by a team.

He explained the team consists of a reporter, “who really knows the story”, a producer, like Stabe, a designer and a developer.

“One of the best things you can do in your newsroom is to get your head round administrative geography,” he said and understand statistical data.

He said it is very difficult to get data on all local authorities, on when they hold local elections and how their public spending is changing. Local data is often coded in different ways, he explained and gave the example of the “Cuts of £6bn hit the elderly the hardest” report on FT.com.

When you have a large dataset you need to ask questions. But data maybe “dirty” with a mix of local of coding conventions.

“The very act of cleaning the data is the key step,” he said.

“Data is only useful if it’s personal”, Bella Hurrell from the BBC recently said on Paul Bradshaw’s blog, a quote echoed by Stabe, giving the example on data collected on how likely a 16-year-old receiving free school lunches will get good or bad GCSE results.

He pointed out that readers are usually only interested in one area, one school, so an interactive version allows people to drill down. The data journalism steps are to obtain, warehouse and publish the data.

In obtaining the data, “sometimes we ask for it nicely” Stabe said, but usually the FT scrapes the data, and it then goes into a database.

His tips for journalists include learning how to manipulate text in Excel.

Next came advice from Simon Rogers, editor of the Guardian’s Data Store and Datablog.

Newspapers are all about the geography of the newsroom, he said, describing how he sits beside the investigations team and news desk.

He spoke about the difficulty in getting usable public data and dealing with the government’s “annual resource accounts”.

The Guardian is now providing ordered data to the people in government who supplied it, he explained.

The Guardian’s data work flow is: getting sent data, data from breaking news, recurring events and “theories to be exploited”. The journalists then have to think about how to “mash it together”, as the combined data makes it more inetersting.

A couple of Rogers’ tips are to use ManyEyes, Google Spreadsheets but “sometimes numbers alone are interesting enough to make a story,” he said.

He gave the example of a map made using Google Fusion Tables showing “patterns of awfulness” every death in Iraq mapped – which took about half an hour.

More recent examples include accessing data provided on the Nato Libya website. The site produces a daily archive for what happens each day, including data on missions.

Every day they add the NATO data to a map to show visually what has been hit where. It can also make stories as journalists notice patterns.


LIVE: Session 1A – The data journalism toolkit

We have Matt Caines and Ben Whitelaw from Wannabe Hacks liveblogging for us at news:rewired all day. You can follow session 1A ‘The data journalism toolkit’, below.

Session 1A features: Kevin Anderson, data journalism trainer and digital strategist; James Ball, data journalist, Guardian investigations team Martin Stabe, interactive producer, FT.com. Simon Rogers; editor, Guardian datablog and datastore. Moderated by David Hayward, head of journalism programme, BBC College of Journalism.

news:rewired – Session 1A: The data journalism kit

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