As traditional television news loses its dominance more audiences prefer to get their news online. Mobile phones are fast replacing big satellite trucks, as almost everyone can livestream events using their smartphones.
As a result, many news outlets are taking on different formats, including shorter videos with music and text to catch viewers’ attention in the first few seconds.
Live video streaming statistics and audience research show that the internet is projected to surpass TV in 2019 as the most popular source of media. Breaking news makes up 56 percent of most-watched live content, with conferences and speakers tied with concerts and festivals in second place at 43 percent.
This move away from traditional broadcasting to online, live-streamed video affects the business models of video-focused news outlets.
“[We were] able to lure in more viewers with our use of satire and humor to present news. It is this number of viewers who were tuning in that made us able to have advertisers coming to our platform,” said Lucky Aaroni, founder and producer of Zimbabwean comedy video show Bustop TV.
In 2018, the outlet earned US$3,500 from advertising on their YouTube channel.
Lulu Brenda Harris, a Zimbabwean journalist and digital media expert, said journalists’ challenge is to think innovatively and adapt to online trends that attract more audiences.
She noted that from research, younger viewers preferred to watch shows online, which they found to be more dynamic than exciting rather than from traditional TV that was rigid.
“Journalists now not only have to come up with new content, but they have to worry how they will deliver that content to audiences, as delivery also matters now,” she said.
One way to create more dynamic content is by incorporating the audience into news gathering so the content is no longer one-sided.
“We need to find ways of being everywhere at once and connecting with audiences, devoting resources to stay in touch with viewers. This is done by getting users involved by sending us videos and sound bites,” said Raheela Mahomed, presenter and producer at Al Jazeera English.
She added that user generated content (UGC) comes in the form of videos, images and sound bites, which are all newsgathering.
“There is so much more content available, [including] pictures and videos from online sources. We’re receiving information at a much faster pace and that can be helpful in a breaking news scenario,” said Mahomed. “Receiving authentic new material also involves the audience in a more direct and timely way.”
However the challenge of incorporating user-generated content is finding it. “It’s about making sure that we have access to all the platforms where this information is being channeled to and know how to use them for broadcasting,” Mahomed said.
According to her, in digital news broadcasting, the point of any digital tool is to simplify and streamline the workflow so journalists and producers can spend more time doing what matters, which is reporting.
IJNet spoke with Mahomed to find out the tools they use at NewsGrid — Al Jazeera English’s interactive show — in order to find and share content generated by citizens, especially those outside traditional social networks. A list of the tools can be found below.
- Telegram gathers online content and helps users discover what is driving the online conversation.
- Trendsmap helps users figure what conversation is trending, and where it is being discussed. It collates the top tweets around a specific topic and creates a heat map that gives you sense of how global an online conversation is.
- Tweetdeck creates lists of influencers on Twitter around specific topics.
- Dataminr is a breaking news resource that collects information from social media and sends alerts of breaking news events, prioritizing those that the user values.
- Brighteye Screen Record allows users to screen record any online material or social media page.
- Storyful is a source of user-generated video that is collected by the site and has already been sourced and verified.
- Buffer posts to multiple social media platforms at once.
- Liveuamap keeps users up-to-date on information within conflict zones.
- Google Image Search and Tineye.com are sources for reverse image checks. They help identify when or if pictures were published.
- Amnesty International Youtube Data Viewer helps verify videos that have been uploaded to YouTube.
- Google Maps Satellite checks landmarks in nearby areas to help verify visual content
- Wolframalpha.Com gives weather forecasts anywhere in the world on any date.
This story was updated at 1:30 p.m. EST on Dec. 27, 2018.
Images courtesy of Al Jazeera English's NewsGrid.