When Lebanese newspaper Annahar launched a web TV venture in 2009, it was one of the first traditional media organizations to invest in creating original online news in the Middle East.
Sporting the jaunty rooster logo of its print parent, Annahar Web TV was a wake-up call for other media outlets in the region that followed with initiatives including AmmanNet in Jordan, Gulf News in the United Arab Emirates and Lebanese French language daily L'Orient Le Jour. (Al Jazeera's early YouTube offerings, in contrast, were clips taken directly from broadcasts and not produced specifically for the web.)
IJNet talked to photojournalist Tinia Nassif about going into the homes of locals and hearts of viewers abroad.
IJNet: What sets Annahar Web TV apart?
Tinea Nassif: It's a new type of video journalism, based on a single journalist doing the interviews. This concept is new in the Arab world, where people usually expect to see a full team. They were surprised at the arrival of just one person with a camera.
IJNet: What do you shoot with?
TN: I use a Sony AVCHD DVD Handycam Camcorder, which records in high-definition, and a tripod.
IJNet: What has the reaction been to Annahar Web TV?
TN: I'll start with the positive comments. Lebanese people abroad were very glad that we launched our web TV channel, especially that we film Lebanese cities and villages; many are nostalgic about their home towns. This was one of the key factors in the success of the idea, because we could reach Lebanese people abroad who supported the channel and liked it because it made them feel closer to home. In contrast, there were negative comments about the quality of the video and the sound.
IJNet: What are the pros and cons of video TV?
TN: The impact of video on viewers is much stronger than words. As for the cons, it can be difficult to cover topics such as sexual health. Text works better than video [for those topics] because you can express more in writing, especially when you feel that the video seems boring for viewers to watch.
IJNet: What advice do you have for aspiring video journalists?
TN: First, make sure you have the tools to transfer the audio and video without losing professional quality. Second, adopt visual thinking. Don't just use the journalist's point of view [make sure] you show the scene with long shots and close-ups.
IJNet: Do you think web TV is a trend in the Arab world?
TN: Of course...I think it will become more than a trend; it will rapidly become a mainstay of media in the Arab world.
This story originally appeared in IJNet's Arabic edition.
Photo of Tinea Nassif @Hatem Nour