Most of us from generation X, and early generation Y, will remember the pioneering days of wartime correspondent reports from the Gulf War; Kate Adie and others perched on rooftops delivering shaky satellite video reports, while scud missiles struck buildings, sometimes perilously close by.
Since those days two way video technology has transformed the way news and live events are broadcast. We see conferencing solutions being used for a variety of reasons these days. We see interviews with experts being held on the other side of the world. We enjoy interactions between people in the studio with those on the ground at Westminster, at Wembley, or on transfer deadline day all around the country. What we don’t see is the amount of conversation over iPad and in meeting rooms that informs opinion and builds the story we are delivered. Video conferencing is now fully integrated into the way most media outlets research and deliver the news.
In very few other fields can one see just how transforming distance-based live communication can be. In the corporate environment we know that board members around the world are discussing strategic decisions, takeovers and appointments. We may see distance meetings happen in our workplace but, in the news, every day we see key influencers and authorities debating the relative merits of different points of view. It makes a huge difference to the way we experience the world through the news.
When we watch the news we want to hear about what’s going on around the country, and around the world. It can be difficult for news outlets to tell the non-local stories of the day in a credible and reliable way. As audiences we want descriptive narratives, incorporating interviews and first-hand accounts from people at the front line of the story.
Video conferencing enables even small news outlets to achieve this, and the technology is getting better and better all the time.
Let’s take a look at how different news outlets are utilising video conferencing solutions in order to deliver richer and more engaging programmes.
Newsnight is a high brow news show, covering the issues of the day. Evan Davis et al. strive to dissect and dismantle the views of their controversial guests, and probe and extract pertinent views from everyone else.
Without video conferencing, Newsnight would not be able to achieve what it does. They frequently host guests from around the world, and pull together multiple experts to discuss, or quite often argue, opposing viewpoints.
It is also the quality of the technology used that affords the show the opportunity to be as hard hitting as it is. It is noteworthy that the Newsnight conferencing solutions are High Definition, and almost never shaky or lagging. The richness of the media facilitates the in-depth discussion we enjoy, and micro-expressions are easily perceived, interpreted, and jumped on, by Davis and co, as they look for weakness and inconsistencies to exploit.
Sky Sports, Transfer Deadline Day
The football transfer deadline day is one of the most exciting television news events that there is; for those interested in football anyway. Sky Sports make the few hours leading up to the deadline even more compelling by journeying around the grounds to meet the on-site reporters, and engaging with them from the studio to ascertain the latest speculation, news and done deals.
In the 2013 summer transfer window Gary Cotterill was reporting from Real Madrid. As you can see from the picture below the clarity of the TV picture was not the best, but the up-to-the-minute information from Spain certainly outweighed the shortfall in picture quality. Sometimes the message far outweighs the medium.
The way in which Sky Sports covers the deadline day, and the 2-way video-chat that they use, is symptomatic of the pioneering influence of sport in the media. To say that coordination of the reporters around the country is a big task is an understatement. Sky Sports began television technology such as pause, replays and slow motion technology, and continue to be ground breaking in their use of technology, and media delivery strategies.
RT America utilise a side-by-side video chat layout, enabling an excellent experience for the viewer. When a contributor answers a question the director switches the screen to focus solely on them, returning to the master view to get reaction from all stakeholders in conversation.
In addition, RT America intersperse full screen video items with the chat, which provoke more conversation, and represents certain viewpoints or facts. Just as in business video conferencing contributors can push media to collaborators on the main screen or direct to their devices through a shared server; news media use the power of information sharing to make their conversations even richer.
TV distance chat has come a long way since its early days. We are seeing massive video conferencing advances both in the media and corporate world, meaning far greater exposure to the experts we need to hear from. This is helping us to understand issues and people better than ever before.
Video conferencing is making the world a smaller place’ enabling businesses, news outlets, universities, and every other sector, to connect with more people than ever before.