Kevin Sites – the online war correspondent

March 16, 2009


In the hotzone…

“One man, one year, one world of conflict!”

I can’t be the only one who thinks this sounds like a tv format- as so much does on the web these days. As commissioning editors churn out tired ideas on our tv screens, along come the forward-thinking web developers. I’ve certainly never heard of a war correspondent working exclusively online like Kevin Sites did for Yahoo back in 2006-08. I find his hotzone site very interesting in the context of the things we’ve been looking at. Most of all I believe it offers a glimpse into the future- video blog entries uploaded each week, made by one man with minimal, necessary equipment.

It seems remarkable that all the content can come from a mere rucksack of stuff. Just look at the part of the site where it shows Kevin’s equipment; it shows you just how far technology has come in a few years. The cameras are light, the satellite phone is tiny and there are entire editing suites on computers the size of hardback books.

As technology becomes easier, more complex, smaller and cheaper the possibilities become great- but questions are raised. The technology is available to almost anyone and the number of voices straining to be heard rises and rises. This is the twitter universe. We choose who we listen to but have less of an idea about who they are.

The hotzone may be a bad example because the reporting is excellent and Sites is obviously a well-respected correspondent, but this is still one man’s take on the world. The camera never lies? The irony of that old saying is that the camera can only ever show the perspective of the person who uses it. If journalists are expected to create accurate unbiased reports, it’s surely a lot harder to do it alone?


Multimedia charity

March 14, 2009

I only caught half an hour or so of last night’s Comic Relief (was having toga issues at the time…) but I couldn’t help noticing how multimedia-orientated it was this year. The normal lines of communication were of course there (phone voting, physically collecting with buckets etc) but you could also donate by text and by pressing the red button. I thought this was a very clever way of getting people too lazy to write down a phone number and go ring, to do their bit. I think it also opens doors for other charities to raise money: could we soon see a whole new ‘donations’ page on the red button multiscreen?

On the defensive

March 5, 2009

The digital editor of This Is Cornwall has posted an angry reply to a reader’s claims that their journalists spend too much time blogging and not enough time out on the streets reporting. He says:

“We have more reporters in every area across the county than anyone else, who work their hardest to bring more local news as it happens from their district offices. And online, we’re now uploading far more content than ever before.”

But, as someone very sensibly raised in the discussion after our presentation, what about people who don’t, for whatever, have access to the internet? A quick flick through any of the local papers shows that really, most of the news stories comes from obviously emailed press releases, fund-raising events and the odd police alert.

Having spent two extremely dispiriting weeks working for my local paper (which shall remain nameless), I can confirm that most local reporters spend all their time glued to their desks, only leaving the office to go for lunch at the pub next door. Only once was I asked to go out and vox for local opinion on a story. And this wasn’t a newspaper office based in the sticks, where it takes half an hour to get to civilisation; we were in a place with a population of 10,000. 

The website for the paper now makes a big thing of having a weekly video round-up of all the local news on its website. Meanwhile, the content of the physical paper continues to go downhill.

Methinks Gareth Bartlett doth protest too much.

Old to New

March 4, 2009

Update on the Future of Radio News

March 3, 2009



CHRIS: Today Sky will become the sole supplier of the UK’s 340 commercial radio stations. The three year contract awarded to Sky will include Classic FM, Capital FM and Clyde Radio. These stations were formally provided by IRN which is part of ITN.


Before today there were eighty stations who were already getting their news from Sky. The new stations will now be provided with a mixture of bulletins and packages for radio output, and video and stories for their website. The 340 stations will also be able to rip audio directly from the Sky news channels.


Although the content may be improved, there is once again a limited amount of rivalry being generated through the contract. This seems to have been an issue repeated throughout the media spectrum, with ITN’s regional output being recently cut. Competition is healthy in any business and I feel the loss in this area will have an affect on the long term output.


The life of a 21st century multimedia journalist…

February 23, 2009

I’ve written a very quick script for the live “life of a multimedia journalist”. Let me know what you guys think – I thought we could involve everyone in a bit of am-dram acting to liven it up…



































This is the life of a modern journalist.


This is almost certainly the sort of day we’ll be having when we go into the workplace.


First thing to do: listen to the Today programme to catch up with breaking news.


But then there’s also TV news, local radio, the internet: there’s just so much to take in. And that’s before you even start work.


R: We need to do the new homes story.

S: Yes, definitely, it can be for TV. But we need it for radio too. Rachel, do a two-way we can run on the drivetime show.

C: Yeah, and it’d be a good online story. When you get back can you write a bit for the website?

J: Also, can you get some mobile content uploaded?

R: Er, I guess, but when am I gonna research and edit it?

S: Don’t panic, you don’t need to talk to anyone, just grab a quick interview.


S: And don’t forget to Twitter while you’re there!


R: God, so much to do, so little time. I want to talk to the Environment Agency but I have to update the website. And it’d be good to talk to some local people, but I’ve got to do the drivetime two-way. I’m not properly handling the story, but I haven’t got time. And now my package looks rubbish cos I didn’t have time to edit it. I really don’t feel like a proper journalist any more.


Multi-platform Journalists – Regulation and ethics

February 23, 2009


CHRIS: As we’ve discussed during the blog, journalists are expected to multi task in the way the obtain and produce content for different types of media. But does this mean that ethical standards are being affected by the increased for demand of content and the ability to learn about technological advances?

Both BBC Somerset’s Journalist and the CNN Reporter have commented on the lack of time they have. The issue of checking sources and even proof reading your own work are things that may be placed to the side if journalist’s responsibilities increase. This could cast a dark cloud over the profession, if several cases do get highlighted.

Although there has been few current examples, we are at the beginning of this new world in which we will (hopefully) be working in – a media world, that previous journalists have not worked in. I think ethics and regulations should still be of up most importance when writing content for whatever media – otherwise our reliability and reputation is at risk, as a profession.


An interesting comment made by John Lilley today after Live @5 regarding the future of content for different audiences. The BBC and other broadcasters should be aware of different treatments for the variety of audiences. For example an internet treatment would be substantially different to a local feature of BBC Radio. This is should be kept in mind, when re-working a feature/story for different media platform.