We all want to be let in on what’s going on. This last decade’s great change in media has taken this to a whole new level. As media users we can be present everywhere, at all times, and we no longer accept being treated as spectators from the outside. Nora Thorp Bjørnstad, News Anchor and Reporter at VGTV, gives her view on how to take the users safely, well-informed and moved – inside the news.
In this age of smartphones, Snapchat, Vimeo, Periscope and video blogs, anyone can report on screen. You too probably have, or will. When you find yourself in the middle of something that catches the media’s eye, whether you’re a reporter yourself, or just happen to be at the right (or wrong…) place at the right time, chances are you’ll be caught on camera.
I quit a job at the flagship news program of Norway’s state broadcaster, NRK, to join the building up of what is best described as a cheeky little brother on the national media scene; VGTV. No one could tell us for sure what this was going to become. And most of us still don’t know. What we do know is that the only way of meeting the current shift in paradigms in media is to be flexible, curious, and adaptable. The traditional TV broadcasters still have a set of expectations from their audience that makes them stick to a certain format. My experience is that starting on the other side; online, gives a great advantage when the shifting habits of the users is what controls the market.
But in competition with the massive amount of talking selfies out there, how do you stand out as a communicator? How do you make people care about what you want to tell them? This is my humble insight to how:
SHOW, DON’T TELL: Let the viewers see for themselves. The point of live video reporting is images. Some, you will have to create yourself by explaining. But when you can, let the viewers see what you want to communicate. And remember; for those watching, a picture will always win over words. So make sure your story begins with the images you show.
YOU NEED TO MOVE: The age of a humongous film camera bolted to the ground is over. This only gives the audience a limited insight in what goes on. Take your audience with you. Make them see all the things thatcatch your eye. In terms of access to actual impressions, information and knowledgeable sources, you are very privileged to be on site. So be generous; Make the viewers feel like they have this access, too.
LOOK INTERESTED: Act interested. Otherwise, I guarantee you that your audience won’t be. Remember, you’re doing this live report because there’s a story to tell. There’s no point in telling it if people don’t listen.
KEEP IT SHORT: The world of news content is moving fast. Very few people have minutes to spare if what you have to say doesn’t interest them. Compressing your story will challenge you to see what the actual story is about. That often makes it a more attractive story, and you will certainly reach more people that way.
MAKE IT WARM: Just as static, stiff cameras are passé, so are stiff bodies. Make sure you’re warm when reporting, to avoid looking like a frozen popsicle with high shoulders. That is not a confident communicator.
SAY IT SIMPLE: It is literally Chinese fortune cookie philosophy, but this little note I found one evening dining at the local Beijing Palace, struck me as some good advice on how to report live in an engaging manner. Do not try to impress the viewers with fancy words or phrasing. That goes for both reporters and the sources you interview. The only thing you achieve is alienating those who don’t understand. And you want to reach out to as many as possible.
Compared to the other TV channels, we are few and new. This could be a challenge, but ends up giving us great advantages: The viewers of online TV don’t expect the same from us as from the traditional broadcasters we compete against. They accept a product that’s rougher, less polished, less formal. But then again: it’s authentic. We can focus on efficiency, rather than vanity. This makes us work faster and often reach site first.
Another advantage of being relatively “new”; As a media house that mainly consisted of print journalists a few years ago, the video way to break a story is still seen with the excitement of something new. That means a wonderfully enthusiastic attitude to contributing. Everyday we grow stronger, better, inspired by this excitement of entrepreneurs. And before you know it, the flexibility live reporting online makes you strike gold: Vladimir Putin forteller VG om forholdet til Stoltenberg
It means that you can take chances on projects that seem like to much of a risk, like predicting the Northern lights live: Dette har aldri vært sett på direkte TV før (Or check out 2:09:48 of the same clip! We succeded in stunting a 3 hour direct broadcast with guests during the northern lights in the arctic!)
Moving images have never been as popular among media consumers as they are today. In 2014 VG took a signi cant step-up on online video, and also launched a linear TV-channel. The sta expanded from 31 to 60. Breaking news is core, as well as entertainment driven actuality programs and high quality documentaries. VGTV experiences large growth in both number of viewers and views, and has reached 22 million online views per month. In comparison NYT has 18 million views per month.