Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Liberty Medical Social Media and Online Video Channels:
Journalist and Talking Points Memo founder Joshua Micah Marshall, who says he is often approached by media executives for business advice on how to survive in the era of Internet journalism, has shared some secrets to his success.
Speaking at a May, 2008 conference on the future of the Internet, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, Marshall first told the audience the end of printed newspapers is "obvious" and the future of nightly TV news is in doubt.
Talking Points Memo has pioneered a new model of interactive investigative journalism. Marshall explained there are three aspects of this model that work together to make it successful:
Here’s an example of a story that readers helped Talking Points Memo to investigate a few months after the 2004 election:
Last year, with assistance from his readers, Marshall investigated the firing of eight US attorneys that critics believed was politically motivated. Subsequently, the traditional media picked up the story and the controversy led to the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Talking Points Memo won a George Polk award for that story – the first Internet-only news operation to receive it.
Marshall’s experience makes him optimistic about the future of journalism, but he believes the period of transition will be painful:
Talking Points Memo is an ad-supported operation that also accepts donations from readers. The complete video of Josh Marshall's speech at the Berkman Center conference is available on the center's website.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
I recently interviewed Michael Kolowich of Diginovations for my April 18 column Presidential candidates see political video differently for Mass High Tech. Kolowich was the architect and producer of Mitt TV, the Internet TV Channel of former Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Here is a podcast in which we discuss political video and advice for the Presidential candidates:
Friday, February 22, 2008
My column for Mass High Tech today looks at Boston station WCVB-TV's YouTube experiment. There are some interesting things that anyone wanting to distribute video content can learn from Channel 5's experience. First of all, YouTube is a great playground to test your videos. If you're diving into video production to produce value-added content for your site, you may want to produce a few test pieces first, and see what happens when they are released into the YouTube universe. YouTube, as Channet 5 notes, has matured. To be sure, odd and unusual video clips still reign supreme. But videos that serve the interests of niche audiences also perform well. If people are looking for your type of video content, whether it's an educational piece or a TV commercial, they're likely to turn first to YouTube.
It's also interesting to learn from Channel 5 that unedited news video clips perform well. As WCVB points out, they allow people to make judgements for themselves. In marketing we also know though video tracking that raw customer testimonials, interviews, and snippets of speeches can be effective. Just make sure the speakers in your clips are engaging and get to the point quickly!
You can read the Mass High Tech article here.
Monday, February 11, 2008
When you create an Internet TV Channel one of the decisions you have to make is how to organize your video clips. If you need to accommodate a growing collection of videos, you might choose the tab structure which lets users browse your collection horizontally by category as well as vertically, where every new clip added to a lineup pushes the older clips down the list. For example, the dLife Internet TV Channel uses the tab player format:
But at dLife as elsewhere, it didn't take long for the folks populating this channel to encounter a scaling challenge. After a few categories are added to the top-level navigation, the rest fall from view. In this case the publisher felt the need to add an arrow pointing to the navigation, hoping that visitors will realize there are hidden tabs to explore.
Also notice that both the title and description of the featured video are truncated.
This is a common problem with video websites: There simply isn't enough room to put more than a modest collection of videos and their metadata in front of your visitors at any given time, especially if you want to add thumbnail images to identify them as videos and give users a clue about their contents.
After reading Everything is Miscellaneous by David Weinberger of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, you will realize that you are dealing with an age-old problem for which luckily the social Web provides a solution. Here's the situation:
Trying to determine the best organization for videos on your site is like deciding how to organize books in a library or display products on the shelves of a physical store. These items are generally limited to one location, one category, and there are only so many of them that you can present at eye level or arm's length. That is soooo old order. The "new order of order" has no such restrictions. The social Web where content flows freely into multiple categories and locations is teaching us that content means different things to different people in different situations on different occasions, so the best thing to do is set it free and let the audience organize it.
Sure, the appeal and structure of the originating site matter, but business success may rest mostly with the extent to which your site's social features and additional distribution release your videos "into the miscellaneous." Weinberger's theory on the new order of information and knowledge applies to all content. Read the book!
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
If 2007 was the year for sharing video, 2008 is shaping up to be the year for making it interactive - a true mix of video with interactive elements. Where video used to be a process of putting pieces together, now increasingly it will also be a process of taking those pieces apart, to allow random access to particular sections of a video clip, user rankings and comments within the video, hotspots, and more.
Here's an example of a quick turn-around interactive video by The New York Times of the President's State of the Union speech last night. By default, the video plays sequentially from beginning to end. But The Times also marked the main topics of the speech, allowing the user to jump to any of them. A transcript of the entire speech is also displayed. When you select a title or move the progress bar on the video player, the transcript moves as well, highlighting the paragraph in your selection. Click the image above to check it out.
Monday, January 7, 2008
Have you noticed this video of Barack Obama asking his website visitors to sign up and join his Presidential campaign? Watching the clip makes me wonder whether our next President will be the first to use the Internet to directly addess the country and the world. There is, afterall, a traditional radio address. Why shouldn't we come to expect the President's Internet address?
Knowing what we know about the emotional power of video and its ability to drive response, an inspirational President who can speak from the heart and not just a script should be able to use Internet video effectively.
The same holds true for corporate leaders. In politics or in business if you feel passionately about what you do, that passion will show through your video and be persuasive.
Obama has the right idea but his video appeal is missing an important feature - the action button. When people use the embed code to embed the video in their own websites, as I did above, visitors to those sites do not have a means to respond to Obama's call to action. The sign-up buttons and forms reside on the campaign website but not in the video player itself- a limitation that could be costing him registrations.
To resolve this problem, the Obama campaign could add a prominent "Join Now" button to the player. This button could open a registration form right on top of the video. The clip could also end with the sign-up screen. These features would permit registration from any place where the video is deposited, at any time the video is viewed.