Tag Archives: Times

How the UK Tabloids use video: The Sun

Last week I looked at how the UK broadsheets where using video. It was partly an effort to see whether there were any broad guidelines that I could take away and also as a shock tactic to get me back in to more regular blogging.

Keeping the theme (and the shock tactic) going I’m looking at the UK tabloids. Starting with The Sun.

The Sun's video player
The Sun's video player

The Platform.
The Sun flags its video as the first menu item on its front page. Actually, the design of the navigation squashes it up at the top.  And the homepage has a very visible player on right-hand-side. When you click the link you are taken to a dedicated page with the ubiquitous jukebox style player.

In common with The Times, another Murdoch title, the video on the Sun is served via the Kit (Roo) player. Each section is also extended below the player in the Sun’s chunky design. (the Thumbnail images are too small) and the shear size of the design causes problems. To see the ‘pick of the video’ you need to scroll down a fair way so the player is not in view.  Clicking one of these links opens it in the player but the page doesn’t scroll back. It’s a bit of click and then scroll as fast as you can to get back and watch the video.

The player does offer a brief description of what’s playing, but not enough of one. There is no link through to an article. If your watching the video channel then you not going to be reading anything!

Video embedding in article pages is common and stories with video are highlighted with an icon. The player is usually embedded after the first couple of paragraphs and suffers from too much overlay information on too small a player. Although the Sun doesn’t rely on the video thumbnail as an image I still think this is an opportunity missed.

The embedded player suffers from too much overlay information
The embedded player suffers from too much overlay information

One feature that is worth a mention is The Vault. This is The Sun’s ‘interactive’ timeline of archive multimedia content. You can scroll through the years and see the “sensational” audio and video that “stunned” readers.  The content aside, this is a nice feature. But the links open a new window and some need checking as they don’t always work. The lack of proper captions and context is also a problem here.

The Vault - The Sun's visual archive.
The Vault - The Sun's visual archive.

The presentation

The video content, like the website, is a real mix. The news content is almost all Sky news content with world news covered through the Reuters feed.  But there is also a sizable amount of Sun ‘exclusive’ video. The Sun exclusive section of the video player gives a good flavour of this. There is CCTV, re-distributed third part video, like the Red Bull air race and the Tomb Raider Trailer and stuff that wouldn’t be out of place on youtube. in fact your tube stuff features heavily here.

But there is also large and some self produced packaged stuff mixed in.

The packaged stuff varies from straight talking head interviews to more structured stuff. The UK’s fattest teen piece is essentially a face-to-face video interview with some b-roll over the top is a pretty standard example of the Sun approach where the interviewer has a presence. Sometimes this is more obvious that others. The Alex Zanardi piece was interesting but the intro was too long and really missed the opportunity to add context that an embedded video can offer. Perhaps this is there attempt to encourage you that ‘your sun’ is really there. It often makes you wish they weren’t.

It isn’t all sport and voyeur TV though. Exclusive video from North Korea has the Sun bravely does a piece to camera without a tripod  and a sizable amount of undercover Sun stuff like getting past airport security.

Never let the contributer hold the mic!
Never let the contributor hold the mic!

Production values are good when the subject matter allows although the audio is obviously something that they struggle with. The Uk’s biggest teen interview sound was very poor considering it was a set up. Compare that to the sound on Martin Phillips interview with Diver Tom Daley, which is shot in a swimming pool, a difficult shoot, which is okay. It’s a bit of a lottery.  In fact the sports section offers a lot of the exclusive interview stuff and highlights a lot of the areas where production could be tightened up. The interview with Basketball player Luol Deng shows why you should never let the contributor hold the mic – buy a clip-on mic you tightwads. Credit where credit is due though, it is a nice example of how overlapping audio can help sell a reverse.

Visual quality is universally poor although I’m more inclined to blame the player compression than the production itself. Although some poor white balance and over-exposure on the shots doesn’t help.

Away from the news – the dynamic daily content- you also get a large amount of themed stuff. The most obvious of this is, at the moment, Big Brother coverage. But the recognisable Sun stalwarts are there. Page three has its own Page Three TV and Deidre’s video Case Book is a comic book style video retelling of the papers Agony Aunt section. It’s like watching a cut-price Hollyoaks (if such a thing were possible) but you can see where they are aiming this stuff.

Overall

It’s great to see that hidden in the mix is a lot of self produced stuff. When they do make the content it’s lacking in a coherent approach to presentation. A lot of the exclusive video seems to be grabbed at the same time a ‘celeb’ comes to visit the newsroom – a lot of b-roll was of people being photographed at the Sun. They could do worse than set up a corner of the newsroom with some static cams be ready to roll. At the moment they seem to be on a grab a camera and grab what you can approach. This just highlights the mixed style.  Out of the office they need to go straight for interview content backed with good b-roll. Drop the reporter in vis. But if they are going to keep them in they need to be pacey, close-ups (the size of their video player will kill anything else) that show the Sun talking to me not at me.

If the broadsheets approach to video represented a high quality department store, nicely divided products in a posh building, the Sun is an outdoor market. The ‘in-your-face’ design is matched by a baudy range of babes, you-tube, voyeurism and saucy knock-offs.  If you are a Sun reader then this mix of content is exactly the kind of stuff that will appeal.

The site is a poster child for the idea of being a filter for your reader rather than the sole provider of content.

Tomorrow The Daily Star.

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The Top Ten tips for newsaper video from the UK broadsheets

Over the past few days I’ve been looking at the way that the broadsheet newspapers in the UK use video.  That meant The Times, The Telegraph, The FT and The Guardian all got a picking over.

Today, I wanted to look at what we can take away from what they do – good and bad. So based on what I’ve seen, here are my Top Eleven ( I know it said 10 in the headline but you can’t have an odd number Top list can you) observations and pointers:

  • Make video part or the article sell, not a related link.
  • Make sure the link from your video player to a related article is clear
  • Make sure any accompanying text in your player clearly cues your video
  • Embed your video in an article page
  • Make your video poster frames work as images
  • Make the embedded player as big as you can.
  • Keep pre-roll out of embedded video
  • Get some variety in your ads
  • Niche works
  • Formats kill variety
  • Feature formats kill long tail

Want to know why I think that?  Here’s my reasoning.

The FT and The Times cue video in the article thumbnail. The Telegraph and Guardian flag it as a link to the player.
The FT and The Times cue video in the article thumbnail. The Telegraph and Guardian flag it as a link to the player.

Make video part or the article sell, not a related link.
The way articles with video are presented on a page varies in the broadsheets. The Times and the FT add a little logo to the thumbnail for the article. The Guardian and the Telegraph add it as a related link with a little logo. I prefer the former.

We know that embedded video is and important tool and I may be more inclined to click on an article if it looks like there may be some juicy video. I’m not alone in that. The Telegraph obviously thought it was a good idea when they splashed the Anne Darwin story with video.

The problem I found with having a separate link is that it invariably takes you to the juke-box video player and that takes you out of the article context straight away.

Make sure the link from your video player to a related article is clear

Having a juke box style video section has some benefits for the casual video browser(and nosy lecturer reviewing video). But it isn’t the first stop for most people. They come via the story. So to present them with recommendations for other video rather than content related to the story they came for seems, well, dumb. It says ‘I know you’re interested in the whole Iraq thing and wanted to see our serious video but how about a video of a film with Thong in the title, or Lemony pudding?.’

If you are going to offer a player then you need to keep as much of the context as you can. That’s why you should…

Make sure any accompanying text in your player clearly cues your video
The idea that your video needs to work stand alone is one to consider when creating feature video. Script or a clear structure of actuality should set the story up.

But we know that short form video is best served as a clip; A snatch of interview or blurry CCTV taking its relevance and context from the content around it.

The problem is that without the article that content becomes just another talking head or blurry splodge. And that’s exactly what happens when the video is presented as part of player instead of the article. So if you remove the video from the context it fails.  That’s what the jukebox players do to your clip video. They strip out context. So you need to make sure that it’s put back in somehow.

Adding context: The way the Guardian add the headline in the player is a step in the right direction.
Adding context: The way the Guardian add the headline in the player is a step in the right direction.

A well written supporting caption is the easy pick-off. Better still take a leaf out of the Guardians book and build the page around the headline. Even if it is a subtitle over the video, that’s better than nothing.

That’s why it’s better to…

Embed your video in an article page
As new CMS’s and layouts come on board in the broadsheets its clear that they have ‘got it’ when it comes to embedding video on the page. This should be high on your list of things to get right. Getting mixed media on a page, when the story allows, is like adding nitrous to your news section.  Each element supports and builds the other.  But it also means that the content should work on a number of levels.

Make your video poster frames work as images

Make your embedded video work as an image.
Make your embedded video work as an image.

If you have an embedded video player on the page then it should display a meaningful poster frame (the image it shows until the user presses play). You should apply the same editorial consideration to selecting these images as you would a photograph. You should also avoid hiding them behind a mass of text and icons. That stops it working as an image and turns it in to a distracting, visually messy, page element (leave that to your ads).

And, of course, we all know that the bigger the picture the better, so…

Make the embedded player as big as you can.
Broadband and better delivery platforms mean that the days of postage stamp sized video is gone.  Most of the video that is being produced is high-quality stuff. Shot widescreen on hi-def kit. Some of it is even shot in studios. Show that off to best effect. Looking at the broadsheets, there is no reason why the video should be so restricted.

If your design limits that then change your design.

Keep pre-roll out of embedded video
For me a pre-roll ad in embedded video is like those banner ads that break up an article page after the first couple of pars. It’s the equivalent of sticking Starbucks iced coffee in the middle of your reporting. Don’t do it.

The industry is working hard at making ‘time spent’ on a page key metric in measuring user engagement and the quality of the use experience. So why risk putting people off with pre-roll ads. Leave them to your players.

But if you are going to include it in your player…

Get some variety in your ads
This is more a complaint than a tip. <rant> How crappy is it to play the same ad, from the same company, again and again and again? Here is what it says to me. We don’t care about the advertiser. For us it’s the equivalent of taking your advertising leaflets, promising we can deliver them and then dumping all of them in the local sewer.  It also says that we care even less about the about the number of people watching, who have to sit through it and may never come back. We got the money so what? </rant>

That’s better.

Niche works
For all the production flaws the Financial Times video worked fantastically well because they have a clear remit and understand the audience.  The Guardian is the same. Even though they are serving the broader news market, compared to the FT, they have defined the remit and looked to the audience. Their focus on liberal, world affairs coverage is a clear niche.

When that remit is not clearly defined, as with the Telegraph, or missing completely, as with the Times,  the results are messy. Even the Guardian starts to lose its shape when it moves away from its remit.  The result is a over reliance on formats to add definition and that’s a problem.

Formats kill variety

Instead of ignoring video when it doesn’t fit the remit most publications fall back on episodic , format based content; I know, they say, let’s have a weekly show about ‘x’. But formats create a number of problems.

Keeping a flow of content in to a format is hard enough. Keeping it within the format is even harder.  So we get format creep.  We get football corespondents filling half a video diary from a football tournament with motorized scooters.  Have a look at the definition of Jumping the Shark. Get it? That can happen in a very short space of time on the web.

Feature formats kill long tail
The other problem with formats is that they require a large amount of padding to maintain a conceit – presenters, title sequences, set-ups. All of which trap useful content.  To take advantage of search, tagging and the long tail the content needs to be accessible, stand-alone.  If I want video of an estate agent in Chelsea to illustrate the impact of the credit crunch I don’t want to have to sit through Cool in your code for 10 minutes to get it.

The episodic nature can also kill effective search and chunking as the archiving is driven by something other than the actual content. The push is for the latest episode. That takes some time and effort to manage.

Summing up.
So there you have it, wisdom from the Broadsheets. But what advice would I give them?

Based on those points here are my suggestions with an indicator of who is doing better than others.

  • Big-up their embedded video. (Good: Times, FT Bad: Guardian Telegraph)
  • Make video work harder as a page element.(Good:Guardian Bad: FT, Times, Telegraph)
  • Ensure their video player works as an image (Good: Guardian)
  • Put more context in their stand alone players. (Good(ish):Guardian Bad: FT, Times, Telegraph)
  • Know their audience and look for the niche in that audience. (Good: FT, Guardian. Getting better: Telegraph Bad: Times)
  • Avoid formats like the plague. (Good: FT Goodish:Guardian Bad:Telegraph, Times.)

When I started the round-up it was as much about kicking myself out of a bit of a blogging slump. But it’s clarified a number of things up for me and I hope you found it useful. In that vein I’m going to keep the pressure up on myself (sorry). So…

Starting Monday: The Tabloids.

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How the Broadsheets use video : The Guardian

Over the last few days I’ve been looking at how the UK broadsheets are using video. I’ve cast my eye over The Times, The Telegraph and the FT.com and now it’s Wednesday so it must be the Guardians turn for a review of their video efforts.

The Guardian Video Section
The Guardian Video Section

Platform
The Guardians has a clearly visible section for video and the page layout works well; all laid back and white spacey in the Guardians re-designed layout. Nice big pictures and inviting.

On the Homepage and section pages you’ll see a smattering of embedded players as well as the little video icon showcasing a small amount of the considerable range of content they have.  There does seem to be some issue with playback controls disappearing once you start playing.

When you get to a video, the player itself follows the standard format of main playback area and then a menu down the side. But unlike a lot of the other players around on newspaper sites, the player integrates with the page. The way the headline and second deck appear above the player is very nice.  It’s a much better implementation of Brightcove than the Telegraph

Nice to see the usual selection of social network links and I also like the rolling menu at the end of a clip – although the recommendations around videos tends to be a bit generic.

Presentation
The news video is a mix of Reuters and Press Association for the news video with the Guardian providing the majority of the feature based and exclusive stuff. It’s hard to tell with the bylines. They often credit the news agency but there seems to be a whole range of credits for the in-house stuff. It could be guardian.co.uk, staff and agencies, guardian films. None of which impacts on the viewer but it makes me wonder how the internal politics works here.

You get captions instead of VO
You get captions instead of VO

None of the news stuff from third parties (and the in-house short form stuff) has voice over. Instead they use pop-up captions so you can read it yourself. I’m, kind-of, liking this. I imagine it adds a reasonable amount of time to the process – rendering captions is time consuming. But if they have a system in place it’s probably shorter than recording a VO and you don’t have the delivery problems.

Of course it’s the feature and special report content where the Guardian gets in its stride.

The piece with Nzube Udezue relating his experience being held at gunpoint by the police,  is well put together and shows the benefit of conducting an interview to get the story, and the good quality audio,  and then doing location stuff as well.  It isn’t cheating you know. It’s just good practice in these narrative led packages.

Less successful is some of the lighter stuff. There is very little evidence of the kind of brand/theme stuff that defines the telegraph, (there is some legacy stuff – The Observer interviews thread for example was best left in the archives ). But there isn’t a unified approach in its place.

The Life &Style section piece on Manly make up offers nothing a before and after shot couldn’t and there is a lot of this style of video on the site. It’s not all bad though. There are some nice features, packaged well.

The Wine in a baby bottle piece was well put together and fun. Not that I necessarily think that packaged stuff is better I just think that some of the videos only work embeded with an article and shouldn’t be included in the player offering

Condensed milk plugs the video gap
Condensed milk plugs the video gap

I also want to mention the pudcast, Not because I think it’s any good. I mention it for the fact that the source for the clip was carnation.co.uk. Let’s hope that the Guardian doesn’t get too high horse about product placement. And that seems to be a common theme downfall of a lot of the ‘lighter’ stuff on the sight.

As I said before, there is very little brand/theme stuff on the site. When there is it tends to be hiding third party or poduct placement content. And that’s when the Guardian attempts something theme like that the quality filter occasionally slips.

Football Daily’s James Richardson and Barry Glendenning video from Euro2008 was pretty tedious. The segway vid in particular  was pointless. I never thought I would hear the Segway referred to a ‘bad boy’. Leave the brand and banter stuff to the podcats where it works.

Of course it’s what could be called the ‘world affairs’ content where they Guardian do their best work. They’ve have made no secret of their aim to focus a lot of their video work on world affairs – telling the stories that they think aren’t being told.  Guardian films really has got in to it’s stride as the new go-to commissioner for liberal, authored voice, VJ style doco.

Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa feature heavily and the process of pairing a Guardian/Observer journalist and VJ works well. It’s like having a Producer and Director/Camera working together. Of particular note is the work of Peter Beaumont and Antonio Olmos. Their Afghanistan: Other voices stuff for the Observer is first class.  It’s sometimes painfully poignant but sometimes painfully earnest.  But since when has that been a crime in documentary.

Slideshows

The Katine interactive Village
The Katine interactive Village

I couldn’t talk about the Guardian and not mention their slideshow and interactive work. High quality and interesting the range is nice. Shame they aren’t given their own section to play with. The Guardian Films produced Katine: Interactive village is a great example of what they can do.  A visit to the inpictures section of the site is a treasure trove of great images and soundlsides slideshows. Some of the navigation needs working out but It’s a shame this doesn’t have a menu link like video does.

Overall
The Guardian has a high opnion of itself when it comes to multimedia and I often feel that they have become a little more pious than they need. You could argue that, with Guardian Films, they are the London centric production/commisioning house that they rail against.  But you can’t argue with the evidence; even if you don’t like the tone.  But away from that excellent coverage are the Guardian offering anything different?

When it comes down to it, the answer is a (qualified) no.  But when it comes to the actual content the range is limited to third-party promos and agency content. Rather than variety it’ a mixed bag. But I say qualified because there is so much that they do right.

The Guardian has some great video chops. The way the player integrates in to the page and the way they subtitle rather than voice over are nice. I also like the indiscriminate way that video is presented on section pages – it’s content to use when appropriate.  There is no doubt that the way they present video and a lot of the video they present is first class. But If the Guardian wants to set the lines of video quality, it needs to do more.

If you are going to go the route of producing the high quality stuff and essentialy providing a filter to the rest ( the model discussed at the recent media summit), the filter needs to be a better quality one and less dogged by adverts.

So, thats the broadsheets. Tomorrow I’ll look at what we can learn, if anything, from the way the broadsheets use video.

And ,yes, I do know that I missed The Independent. More about that on Friday.

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How the Broadsheets use video : The Financial Times

So far, in my little round-up of how the UK broadsheets are using video,  I’ve looked at The Times and The Telegraph. Today, for part three, I’m looking at the FT.com. (well as much of the FT as a free subscriber account will let me)

The FT.com multimedia Section
The FT.com multimedia Section

Platform.
The video is pretty easy to find on the FT.com. The design of the actual pages over at the FT has always seemed a little cramped to me, but squashed in with all the other nav is a clear Audio Video option. This takes you to a simple, well populated Multimedia section page.

A click through takes you to their custom FT.com player and we are back in channeled video land. The player is supplied by Maven and though it’s very temperamental. I found the occasional glitch with some video not resizing properly in the player window and the constant refresh of the whole player when I switched tabs a real pain. The whole thing is temperamental on a mac and the audio level is a lottery. That said, a couple of nice features stand out.  The search is effective and a clear RSS button is a bonus.

But one thing that does work is the link through to articles related to the video. The design of the page does push the link too far past the fold to catch the eye but it’s there and it works.

Another nice touch is the way that the (much trumpeted) FT Mini-player carries the video through to the article. I think the amount of overlay information spoils to impact of the image but there is an editorial balancing act here – the grab would always be of an FT employee so you need to keep that clear. That said the overlay lower third with a title and date was a nice touch.

Presentation
The style of video is pretty limited, consisting mainly of stand-ups to camera and interviews.  The ‘news’ comes in the form of a Reuters feed but most of the content is in house. The ‘regular’ video this tends to be with other members of the FT team. But I guess you buy the FT for their expertise so that follows through.

The boys prepare to do the Daily view waltz
The boys prepare to do the Daily view waltz

There are several strands of video that get daily updates. The UK Daily view is a studio based ‘corespondent view’ style segment. The presentation on this is sometimes not as smooth as it could be but the information (I’m guessing) is pretty valuable if it’s your bag. But one thing that does make it feel a little odd is a little shimmy that they do at the start of every one.

The package will open with a two shot of the presenter and the interviewee (from the look of abject fear on some of their faces, the presenter is there as much for moral support) . A short set-up by the presenter and then they move round, stand in front of the interviewee whilst the camera zooms in to create a standard over the shoulder shot. The resulting Medium Close-up/Close-up of the interviewee is great but it seems a laboured way to get there. I ended up humming the Blue Danube when Daniel Garrahan set in to waltz mode.

When I clicked through to an article page and saw the embedded video with a thumbnail of the interviewee I though, ah-ha, that’s why they do it, expecting to watch this video and find the presenter had been cut out and a good soundbite selected. But no, the whole video is there.   I would invest in another camera and a cheap video switcher and set the shots up. It seems they do the thing in the same place each time so why not set up a little more.

That said, the UK version is better than the US version which sees the correspondent talking to camera. Some have it, others have bad days but all of them seem like two-ways with the presenter cut out.

Other video falls in to the interview feature category and isn’t allowed on the site unless it has the word ‘view’ in the title (I’m joking). View from the Top, Short View, View from my window (okay, maybe not). There is a lot of standard TV style stuff in here. The FTfm segment for example falls in to a pretty standard interview format, complete with noddies. This is in contrast to the slicker View from the top although I did find Chrystia Freeland’s inability to sit back in her chair annoying (I know, picky aren’t I)

Jeremy Who?
Jeremy Who?

The Special Reports section is where the cracks in some of the production values begin to show. The feature on Japan’s fashion industry was an overlong package that lacked a descent intro..  I’ve noticed that the title sequences for content have all but gone – Sometime around the End of May the little title sequence disappeared from the Daily view (July in the US) – which gives the whole thing a little bit more urgency. But in the features a little more set up is needed especially as almost all of the presenters went with, sometimes convoluted, dropped intro style scripts.   A short sequence with a graphic flagging up the content would help place the package.

The review of the Pilatus PC-12 by Rohit Jaggi illustrates that problem perfectly and shows that the FT is in a different market to the motoring Top Gear rip offs of other papers. It’s telling that his videos are the only ones that appear in the FT wealth section. Although a little injection of top gear style pace and humour would have helped chivvy the vids along The Doing Business strand was also a mixed bag, often depending on the presenter, but I can see the real secondary market value in the content.

Slideshows

One of the FT slideshows
One of the FT slideshows

Video aside for one moment, special mention has to go to the Slidshows and interactive packages on the site. Thirst for Food and the Burma special section are both worth a look as is the Sellafied slideshow by Charlie Bibby. They lack a decent title screen but there is some very nice stuff in here.

Overall
I commented that watching the TelegraphTV felt a little like watching a daytime TV channel . The FT isn’t daytime TV but I do feel like I’m watching the TV in a nice business hotel room abroad. That’s not meant to be a criticism. It shows that they have a good handle on the audience they serve. This is niche, done for niche.

That means that all of the content I saw on the FT.com was always relevant, it couldn’t fail to be. But what it lacks is a little polish. Where they have got a format in place – like the UK Daily view – they need to work a bit harder at working the stiffness out of some of the people they are putting in front of camera. I really felt for Tony Barber  doing is opener for the View from Europe interview with Mandelson. Once the interview got in it’s stride its okay. But man, he looked uncomfortable.

That will come with time and in Richard Edgar (now the head honcho of video) they have a good role model, he’s great in front of the camera. But maybe some work on formats that don’t rely on too much presenting will take the pressure off.

Perhaps the niche market puts the FT at an unfair advantage amongst the other broadsheets.  Without the need for broad appeal they can focus on getting a style that’s right. I also think that the multimedia interactive stuff is an area they could really shine. With all that video, data and experience there could be some sterling work in that area.

Next it’s the Guardian and then, on Thursday, a round up. Who is my pick of the broadsheets and what tips can we take from what they do?

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How the Broadsheets use video : The Telegraph

Last Friday I started a round up of what the broadsheet newspapers are using video with a look at The Times.

The telegraph have been building their video in a similar fashion to the other broadsheets. Where the Times work the Murdoch angle with their Sky content, the Telegraph have relationship with ITN who provide a lot of the news content. ITN are also responsible for the production of some of the Telegraphs signature video threads.

The platform

The video section is well signposted in the main navigation. It takes you to a Telegraph TV channel. Unlike the Times the landing page for video is presented more like a standard section page. Even though one click on a story takes you to an all to familiar outsourced player set-up ( powered by a brightcove player. ) clicking on a feature link may take you to a sub-section page.  As usual, once you are in the player, your options to get back in to an article are limited

Articles with video are flagged with a little camera icon but these are few and far between until you get to the lifestyle and culture sections. Then it’s there like a rash. But video appears embedded in a lot of section pages which is nice.

The news section tries something a bit different with The Telegraphs News Now feature player embedded on the top of the page.

The Telegraph - News Now
The Telegraph - News Now

Presentation

News video tends to be limited to ITN package style stuff. There is some nice featured stuff. The On the Frontline video with troops in Afghanistan is good. There is the makings of a really great multimedia piece in here. I also liked the Olympics Dreams video with the ‘video diary’ stuff.  A bit over produced to be truly video diary but some interesting stuff. Again I think there is some stronger multimedia packaging opportunities here.

Some of the section pages have an embedded player rather than a link to the Telegraph TV channel which was a nice touch in keeping some identity to the video content.

Real Sky?
Real Sky?

The politics section page has embedded video with rolling packages – like rolling politics news. I was surprised to see an obviously doctored shot in the opening video about Gordon Brown going on Holiday.  It shows storm clouds over a long shot of the Prime minister. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no slave to the purest photo-ethics debate and I know why they did it – Storm clouds. Gordon brown. Get it!. But it seemed very out of place  -another example of too much like TV.

The Business section does the same (although in the old design) with The Telegraphs Business Bullet. Robert Miller does a good job of newsreader, confident and personable, but there’s little there that couldn’t have been done with voice-over and the ‘insights’ are short, scripted and add little. For a business bulletin it wasn’t graphical enough for me. On screen reinforcement- stock prices etc would have made this more swish.

The Celebrity section had me fooled, no video, until the a disembodied voice started telling me about Madonna. The video was planted further down the page. A mild distraction. For me if the video appears below the scroll(fold) then I would prefer to see it presented in a similar way to the way they present it on the Travel section. A little sidebar item offers related links to video.

A special mention to the Travel section which has a nice, visible ‘hubs’ concept. I think they could make more of this. They have a news topics page like the BBC’s topics. Flag it up more. The pages look good and the serendipity value for  the occasional browser like me is high.

The more feature based stuff is where I was expecting the personality of the paper to show through. The Real Tips section offers some nice video but I’m not keen on the format. Adrian Bridge’s Trebant piece is a case in point. It was holiday video cut with a studio interview. Authoritative voice but it did end up being like a holiday pics lecture till halfway through. Could have been half the length. That raw footage cut with bluescreen interview makes it feel like a cut price clip show.

Like the Times the blogs on the Telegraph are more relaxed with their use of video. But making my way across the divide between newspaper site over to the blogs I noticed someone seems to have fallen between the gap. Sameh El-Shahat and his Holy Cows show ( a truly awful title sequence by the way) inhabits the uneasy space between comment and blog. One or two of his videos have found their way on to the web (his George bush polemic has done the rounds online) but there is no opportunity to comment or interact. And I think this Brand rather than personality problem is the main flaw in the Telegraphs offering.

Holy Cows
Holy Cows

The strands are not bad. Well made (as I would hope with input from someone like ITN) but they seem stuck in TV-format land. They miss the chance to exploit the niche and community parts that something like the blog section works hard to cultivate.

Overall

Its the TV Times, sorry the TV Telegraph
Its the TV Times, sorry the TV Telegraph

The Telegraph have really taken the TV part of Telegraph TV seriously. They’ve gone heavy on the ‘show’ format. I could take a mix of the stuff and give you a schedule that looks like any daytime TV channel I could mention.  Instead of Motoring we have Wheel Deal. We have Ten Minutes to Table, Hilary&Co (Hilary, script. Avoid it like the plague). There’s touches of Discovery, a bit of Lifestyle and heavy politics if you want it. Format, format, format.

I feel slightly bad having a pop. The Guardian recently put the boot in to the Telegraph video at the Changing Media Summit a while back (particularly Right On). I thought the tone of that debate was a little too much like ego-massage, but can’t argue with their criticism in that the Telegraph is too much like TV.

Metro media snipping aside, the problem with that TV wrapping is that the richness of the content mix and deep niche value is hidden. The series format kills the long tail value of a lot of the stuff.

So, a rich mix, competently produced but I felt that my Back button had become a TV remote. I closed the browser just in case I clicked it and found myself on Bid-up TV.

Oh, and the annoying thing with DVD’s is the bloody pre-roll ads for them.

Next: The Financial Times

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