1

How to Streamline Digital Distribution in a Broadcast Newsroom

The pandemic hit the advertising ecosystem hard: linear TV ad spend shrank 41 percent in the first few months, according to the IAB, and gains in the second quarter were limited. But while it may take a while longer for traditional advertising dollars to resume their normal flow, the IAB predicts a quicker recovery for digital video advertising. After the 2020 election cycle, and with the future of live sports in doubt, local broadcasters will have a much-needed opportunity to diversify their revenue—and that means leaning into digital distribution.

On a higher level, we’ve discussed best practices for digital distribution. Knowing how to tailor your content to various platforms, being selective about the platforms where your station shares content, and integrating digital video creation into your workflow does quite a bit to push distribution along. Now we’ll explore the foundation needed to enable a smooth digital and social workflow for broadcast newsrooms.

1. Think Digital First

The gap between Americans who prefer to get their local news via TV and those who prefer to get it online is shrinking, according to Pew Research Center. Fears about cannibalizing one’s broadcast audience may have made sense a decade or so ago, but today, digital distribution is a vital tool in every newsroom and it deserves recognition as a crucial part of the broadcast workflow.

This mindset is extremely helpful when it comes to breaking news. After all, the next major news event might be just around the corner, and you can’t simply hold stories for the 6 o’clock newscast.

Thinking digitally first doesn’t mean jettisoning the broadcast mindset; the two can work hand in hand. And sometimes, they need to—if a reporter is on the scene of a protest that begins to produce some news, your newsroom needs the ability to immediately share that footage via social and other digital channels, or stream it live.

Think of CNN’s Go There, an entire show with staff devoted to the Facebook Watch platform. Or, instead, think of smaller stations like Louisville’s WAVE 3—their footage of a reporter being shot at with pepper bullets live on air immediately spread across social media. WAVE 3 repackaged the clip for digital distribution while the reporter, Kaitlin Rust, wrote about the experience for the website.

In the event that news breaks on a live stream, the broadcast team needs ready access to this footage. This requires that both teams work from a common shared storage and asset management system so that everyone has instant access to what they need and can deliver it as fast as possible to any platform.

2. Empower Your Digital Video Team

Whether you reallocate current personnel or make new hires to fill out the team, it takes a separate group of people dedicated to digital to properly execute a digital distribution strategy. Many broadcasters already have this kind of team—RTDNA reports that 60 percent of broadcasters aim to implement a digital-first strategy—but as budgets contract, it becomes a component of your newsroom worth fighting for.

And that separate, dedicated team should be in constant contact with the broadcast editorial team. They need to be able to see what footage is coming in and understand what’s happening with that footage for broadcast. They also need to have the authority and capability to edit and publish the footage on their own.

These team members will pull their footage from the same sources as your broadcast edit team. However, the graphics they use will need to be different, both on an aesthetic front and from the technical side. The tech specs for digital video vary quite a bit from those required by broadcast, so easy access to source files is crucial.

3. Simplify the Distribution Method

Having to go through a host of steps just to access source footage slows things down. The surest way of keeping these workflows organized is to connect your digital publishing tools to your central media management system.

To ease digital and social workflows for broadcast, there’s increased demand for the ability to turn live broadcasts into a vertical format that’s friendlier to mobile, while offering more monetization opportunities. A plug-and-play service like this can go a long way toward earning a digital audience and the digital ad dollars that go with it.

For instance, French public broadcaster France Télévisions, which airs massive live events like the Tour de France and the Olympics, decided to offer an equally large suite of digital channels for those events to French viewers. They used technology from Wildmoka to feed dozens of live channels to an app, web browsers, and connected TVs. From there, viewers could watch different angles of live matches at France’s French Open tennis tournament and catch up on what they missed—both highlights and full matches. Most newsrooms won’t need quite as robust a solution as France Télévisions uses, but the fact that the tech is out there to deliver these capabilities speaks to the scalability of a cloud-based product.

Some media management systems also offer the means to integrate social and digital publishing into their workflow. Look for products that automatically connect to (and utilize) your organization’s NLE. It’s a way to give editors the flexibility to work well in the formats—i.e., vertical, square—that social video in particular requires.

Some of these changes are easier said than done, and they take time. If you’re not ready for a dedicated digital team yet, for instance, focus on how technology can ease certain challenges, or vice versa. Even incremental mindset and technology shifts will go a long way toward upping your digital distribution strategy, and will leave you better leveraged to handle the inevitable ebbs and flows of ad spend over time.

Accelerate Your News Workflow

Break stories first across every audience channel, from anywhere, using any device. From story creation through content distribution, MediaCentral provides the most comprehensive end-to-end solution for news production.




How Millennials Get News: Insight for Broadcasters on Retaining This Demographic

If 2020 has taught any lesson, it’s to expect the unexpected. One of the more surprising changes broadcasters witnessed this spring was a shift in how millennials get news: this demographic, born between 1981 and 1996, is known for eschewing traditional news outlets in favor of online streaming and social media. But a funny thing happened on the way to COVID-19 self-quarantine—millennials started watching local TV news in droves.

A study from broadcaster TVB reported a huge jump in TV viewership among American adults aged 18-34 in March, April, May, and June, most notably during the evening news. In March, for example, the millennial audience for evening news was up 156 percent over the same month last year. By June, viewers were falling off, but those numbers were still up 89 percent over last year.

The surge in viewership has been a welcome development for broadcasters. However, millennials may return to their regular habits as COVID-19 restrictions lift and their workplaces and social hangouts are fully open again. Broadcasters will have to adopt new strategies to attract and keep the millennial audience—and this starts with understanding how, when, and where millennials want to receive information.

Millennials Are Mobile

It’s no secret that millennials have turned their mobile devices into the modern Swiss Army knife. They use them for almost every aspect of life—communication, entertainment, shopping, dating. And two-thirds also list smartphones as the main way they access news, according to a 2019 Reuters Institute study.

The popularity of smartphones isn’t new: in fact, news organizations on the whole have made sure to take advantage of it. Most news outlets have developed apps that can send news alerts through push notifications to reach millennial audiences wherever and whenever they are. But engaging millennials means listening as well. BBC News, for example, uses the phone messaging service WhatsApp to solicit story ideas, get eyewitness accounts, and collect user-generated photos and video. We’ve seen similar engagement tactics from South Africa’s 24-hour broadcaster Newzroom Afrika.

Mobile devices are well-suited to video, which works in a broadcaster’s favor. But stories that display well on a big-screen TV don’t necessarily work on a smaller smartphone. Details might be hard to make out, for instance. Reporters can increase engagement by making small-screen content easier on the eyes, such as prioritizing close-ups in digital stories and encouraging editors to use larger font sizes for graphics. Some broadcasters, like Germany’s ARD, feature vertical videos on their news app to fit how most people hold their smartphones while they view content.

Millennials Are Social

Mobile tech is woven into the very fabric of millennial life, and that means news is as well. While they scroll, the news is just as likely to find them as they are to seek it out.

According to a 2015 study by the American Press Institute, 88 percent of millennials say they get news regularly from Facebook, followed by YouTube (83 percent) and Instagram (50 percent). However, they tend to “encounter” news stories on social media sites rather than actively look for them. Young people also rely on news aggregators like Apple News and Flipboard to curate the news they want and get quick updates on what’s happening. While they do access news sites directly, they don’t have as much allegiance to a single brand as older generations. Instead, they prefer to pick and mix from multiple outlets.

Engaging this audience requires a multiplatform approach and a keen understanding of what kind of content works best on each platform. EzyInsights reports that BuzzFeed, one of the top publishers on Instagram, focuses on giving its young audience lighthearted, human interest stories covering pop culture and U.S. politics, which fits the overall environment of the app.

Part of the appeal of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter is the ability to follow individual journalists. This helps create the “personalized” connection many millennials gravitate toward. On-air personalities can leverage this by posting questions or polls about current topics or sharing behind-the-scenes stories and visuals to engage viewers directly.

Millennials Are Visual

Numerous studies point to the importance of visual storytelling. Part of this is purely a functional part of how millennials get news—often, it’s easier to watch a quick video on a smartphone than it is to read a long text article. Strong visuals also capture viewers’ attention (even with shrinking attention spans) in a saturated digital world. Visuals also make content highly shareable, a central activity on social media platforms.

The ability to create strong graphics is crucial to getting millennial viewers and keeping them. Childhoods spent alongside CGI-enhanced movies and video games have created a hunger for 3-D imagery and virtual and augmented reality.

Again, success involves tailoring content to the platform. Instagram is as much about developing a unique and consistent aesthetic as it is about dropping awe-inspiring photos. BuzzFeed has developed strong branding for itself with distinctive split-screen images topped by a three-line headline. Vox has won over the millennial audience with explainer videos that pair sophisticated animation with real-world video. Then, that hybrid is served up on YouTube, a platform millennials frequent for longer-form videos.

Millennials need and want reliable information, and they see local TV news as a trusted source. But keeping their confidence will require engaging on their terms. Embrace the strategies that simply work: a willingness to experiment, a way to measure results to see what sticks, and a robust media platform that can monetize and deliver content seamlessly to multiple destinations.

Accelerate Your News Workflow

Break stories first across every audience channel, from anywhere, using any device. From story creation through content distribution, MediaCentral provides the most comprehensive end-to-end solution for news production.




The Evolving Role of the Broadcast Journalist

The average broadcast journalist’s to-do list has grown longer as they face more complex workflows. On any given day, they’re juggling multiple technologies, platforms, and deadlines to deliver content faster and farther afield than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic has added the challenge of working remotely with little to no physical access to the newsroom.

Keeping up in this environment means embracing a broadcast workflow that’s starkly different from even 10 years ago, let alone the pioneering days of TV news.

Moving to Mobile and Always “On”

Once upon a time, most broadcast journalists worked on a single delivery platform—TV—and with a single deadline—the upcoming newscast. The advent of the 24-hour news cycle brought more opportunities to cover news live, but more pressure came with that. Reporting speed was often measured by how quickly a TV crew could drive a satellite or microwave truck to the location and set up.

Fast-forward to today’s digital-first environment, where a broadcast journalist is always “on.” News breaks online, almost instantaneously, across Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Being first with breaking news means monitoring social media feeds for potential stories, interview subjects, and user-generated photos and videos. And that’s on top of traditional newsgathering methods.

One thing hasn’t changed for broadcasters: the importance of delivering content as quickly as possible. The need for speed, combined with advances in digital technology, is fueling the rise of mobile journalism. A field reporter armed with a smartphone or tablet can capture photos or video, perform simple edits, and—with quick newsroom approval—publish directly to social media with just a few taps. They can go live using a mobile device within minutes, as long as they have access to a network.

Camera operators are trading SNG trucks for portable transmitters that can fit in a backpack and offer greater speed and mobility, whether journalists need to livestream or upload footage from the field. With modern asset management systems, every member of the editorial team can view and access raw video as it’s ingesting and transcoding, making for faster turnarounds.

Streamlining the Digital-First Workflow

A digital-first broadcast should engage audiences where they are—and increasingly, that’s mobile and social. In addition to creating content for legacy linear TV newscasts, broadcast journalists are now feeding multiple online platforms. To do it right, they’ll need to stay versatile and be willing to learn new tools.

While some news organizations have teams dedicated to digital, others expect every employee to contribute. Either way, anyone working on the content will have to keep distinctions straight between various social media channels. Twitter limits posts to 280 characters, while Instagram limits video clips to 60 seconds and prefers a 1:1 (or square) aspect ratio. TikTok’s audience skews younger—it primarily attracts millennials and Gen Z. Creating a newsroom social media manual will help establish standards and keep everyone consistent and up-to-date on best practices for each platform.

Ease this digital-first workflow with tools that simplify delivering video content to multiple social media channels simultaneously. Ideally, editors can build templates ahead of time with the appropriate technical specs for each destination. Then, it’s just a matter of dragging and dropping video clips, graphics, station branding, and ads into each one and clicking a button to publish. All the transcoding happens automatically.

Establishing Remote Collaboration

Even before COVID-19 hit, mobile and digital-first newsgathering was already pushing broadcasters toward a remote, cloud-based workflow. The pandemic has accelerated that process, and now many more broadcast employees are working from home.

Editorial teams hold daily story meetings virtually on software platforms such as Google Meet, Skype, or Zoom. Journalists use instant messaging platforms like Google Chat, Microsoft Teams, or Slack to communicate and collaborate in real time.

A robust cloud-based media platform is essential to keep remote broadcast workflows running smoothly. After signing in over a virtual private network (VPN), team members can access the same user interface and tools they’d use in the newsroom. Writers can create scripts directly in the lineup, and editors can access media libraries and graphics. Reporters can upload video and even edit entire packages from the field—all they need is a laptop or other device and a solid internet connection.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced broadcast journalists to innovate on a dime. From set-decorating the living room for a live hit to building blanket forts to record voice-overs, journalists have shown a remarkable ability to improvise and adapt to working from home. The fruits of this hard work and creativity have proven that remote, cloud-based collaboration works. The question now is: what part of this broadcast workflow is temporary, and what will stick around in the form of a “hybrid” newsroom when lockdown restrictions are lifted?

Your High-Performance Newsroom Starts Here

The modern newsroom thrives on end-to-end workflow efficiency, from the field to the studio to the viewer’s screen. Get ahead of the competition with insights, education, and inspiration for future-focused broadcasters.




How to Gauge Shared Storage Requirements for News Production

We need to talk about shared storage—the combination of easily accessible online, nearline, and archive storage that sets the foundation for multiple daily broadcasts in every station. It’s what helps to make the modern broadcast newsroom possible.

It’s challenging to assess your storage needs of today, and it’s even harder to make predictions for several years down the line. The broadcast landscape is rapidly evolving—however, so are the tools built for newsrooms. As you search for a long-term shared media storage solution, here are four factors to consider:

1. Reliability

The nightmare of drive failure is real. It’s not uncommon for a broadcast tech to have their own campfire horror story about drives crashing while putting together a show (and another, equally harrowing tale about the corrupted or simply vaporized media that resulted). A shared storage solution, particularly one that uses a large RAID, mitigates this risk of failure.

The broadcast world at large is already familiar with RAID, but not all RAID solutions are created equal. The more drives on hand, the better prepared a system is to deal with failure—if media is striped across 10 drives, the array can handle two drives going kaput.

The ultimate protection, though, comes in a system that creates more than one mirror of the media and has the intelligence to switch between copies in response to demands and drive failures. That may sound like overkill, but a shared storage solution that creates two separate mirrors of your media ensures that even if drive failure or corruption reaches into one mirror, your workflows stay clear.

With a 24-hour news cycle comes the need for storage that performs all day, every day—even when demand is high.

2. Performance

The demands placed on storage are on the incline. More footage needs to be available to more people, producers need to find the right footage right away, and your storage has to be equipped to deliver smooth feedback to every person working on the broadcast. That requires not just tremendous, scalable capacity but also drive performance and bandwidth.

A shared storage solution that enables your producers to search footage for phrases can be a tremendous value add, particularly if it enables real-time collaboration. Giving producers and editors the ability to edit the same files at once lets the whole team save precious time in a crunch.

Some of the “smaller” perks of shared storage may also have a surprisingly big impact. A gesture as simple as giving everyone access to the right graphics can boost your broadcast’s professional feel. Plus, having the ability to share teasers on social media directly from your software offers new ways to engage viewers.

3. Scale

Scalability is crucial to both operations and price. How many hours of footage can your system handle? How many streams? And how much will it cost to expand these capabilities? Graphics are complex and only becoming more so as time goes on—tech like augmented reality, while still not widely deployed by local stations, may well make its way into more broadcasts in the near future.

An end-to-end solution offers the ability to scale by automatically adding bandwidth along with capacity. This ensures that not only do you have increased space when you need it, but that more of the team can work concurrently on media.

Not every shared media storage solution offers this, however. Always ask about whether increased bandwidth automatically comes with increased capacity.

4. Price

Price should never be the first priority when it comes to storage, even if you’re under a severe budget crunch.

There are, of course, plenty of lower-cost options out there that can keep the newsroom running. But in an environment with constant breaking news, these solutions aren’t as reliable. Breaking news often requires immediate access to archived footage. With siloed storage, a human being has to manage and deliver archived media that is no longer in the nearline or online storage. The newsroom can’t afford to rely on humans for these duties—time is of the essence, and you certainly can’t be sneakernetting in these situations.

So, when breaking news hits, prioritize collaboration. After all, producers and editors need to be able to work shoulder to shoulder (even if working remotely) within a piece of media to deliver the news as quickly as possible. Beyond that, they all need to be able to see what their colleagues are doing. Not every shared storage solution has this capability, but it’s worth investing in.

Shared media storage managed via a central smart hub is one way to save time and money over the long haul—both in person-hours and ad-hoc panic storage buys

Media Storage for News Production Buyer’s Guide

Determining the right storage solution for your news team can be complex. This guide will help you get started.




How News Graphics Give Newsrooms a Competitive Edge

News presenter stands in front of a green screen

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then news graphics can bring countless words to life. Broadcast news is embracing visual storytelling that lets viewers experience the news rather than just hear about it.

The technology that makes news graphics tick has undergone its own evolution, allowing broadcasters to communicate in fresh, eye-catching ways. Graphics translate complex data into a more comprehensible package, while the use of VR sets and augmented reality (AR) expands the news outside the confines of a physical studio. These methods can create a branded experience for the viewer, stretch production dollars further, and bring more viewers to the table.

Breathing Life into Complex Data

From simple graphs to detail-rich maps, visual context makes data easier to digest. As the audience’s hunger for content has grown, so has the technology for providing it. The evolution from the “nightly news” to the 24/7 news cycle has created a more urgent need to feed that hunger.

One of the most obvious examples is the dissemination of data during an election cycle. News coverage of election returns must offer audiences up-to-the-minute coverage and updates that might whet their appetites. During the 2019 elections in Catalonia, Spain, TV3 relied on AR and virtual sets to create dazzling visual storytelling to keep the viewers informed. Instead of the standard 2D charts listing current vote counts, TV3 brought the viewers inside virtual legislative chambers as the seats filled as elections were called.

Similar methods are already becoming part of the 2020 election cycle in the United States. As Newscast Studio reported, networks like MSNBC are using AR to enhance the visual experience of election returns as November approaches. Graphics and information are no longer limited to the 2D video wall. Instead, they blossom into the studio in 3D. We will undoubtedly see more networks pull out all the stops for election night as they vie for viewers’ attention. All of this is happening, of course, against the backdrop of a global pandemic, which presents its own challenges around reporting complex and swiftly changing data—making it that much more vital for networks to beef up their graphics capabilities.

Thinking outside the Studio Box with VR Sets, Augmented Reality

Modern news broadcasting isn’t limited to the physical reality of the studio walls. Virtual sets and AR technology allow the talent to “travel” to other locations without the overhead of actual remote production—or, on the flip side, bring remote guests into the studio by incorporating those remote feeds into the virtual set.

As noted by TV News Check, the set design trend of using LED walls and VR/AR technologies to create greater flexibility was in full swing well before the pandemic, and it’s unlikely to change course now. The good news is that these trends were well-placed to give networks the additional flexibility they now need. Even while maintaining social distance, news talent and guests can appear “together” in the studio, reporters working from home can employ the same virtual backgrounds that they use in the studio, and talent can visit virtual locations with fewer safety concerns.

Creating a Memorable Brand Experience across Platforms

One of the most important tasks for a broadcaster’s news graphics strategy is creating identifiable branding across all of their distribution platforms, including social. Once a network has earned viewers’ trust as a provider of breaking information, releasing visual data in a style that’s easily recognizable as your organization’s work can strengthen that association.

During TV3’s election coverage, they engaged their audience further by using geolocation to push relevant coverage to mobile users and provided live coverage of behind-the-scenes action. Giving their audience an insider view of the AR technology adds captivating bonus content to an already feature-rich presentation.

Journalists in the field should be able to access these on-air and studio graphics elements from whatever working environment they’re in and across mobile and social platforms. This flexibility facilitates comprehensive, consistent branding across the entire news ecosystem.

Getting More Return from the Production Budget

All of these advances in technology mean that networks can stay ahead of the curve without blowing up their budgets.

A single broadcast studio can be transformed for multiple shows in one day simply by changing the display of graphics throughout the studio’s LED walls. Rebranding efforts don’t require new set construction—they can be accomplished with a metaphorical flip of the switch reaching across platforms. All of this helps newsrooms stay current, keep a fresh visual storytelling strategy, and pique the interest of viewers without breaking the bank.

Enhance Your Visual Storytelling

Embedded Maestro Graphics, now included with MediaCentral




How Subscription Models Are Reshaping Broadcast Technology Decisions

Busy broadcast newsroom with employees and tech

The broadcast world, like our broader reality, is undergoing seismic change. Organizations are having to pivot quickly to meet competitive threats, and they need their broadcast technology to keep pace. Meanwhile, capital investment budgets are shrinking and M&A activity is ramping up.

Yet, the industry hasn’t completely embraced software-as-a-service (SaaS). This is somewhat understandable: broadcasting is a colossal, always-on undertaking, and industry-wide change can feel like trying to turn a massive cruise ship. However, enterprise subscriptions can lower costs, provide much-needed flexibility, and are often easier to deploy. Let’s break down the core benefits of a subscription model.

Lower Costs

Technology is a massive cost center—absolutely necessary, but a cost center nevertheless. It’s also one of the hardest budget items to argue for in tough economic times: if the tech still works, can’t an upgrade wait? The SaaS model lets you mitigate some of those costs by incentivizing multiyear subscriptions, but even yearlong or month-to-month subscriptions can save money.

A subscription model will automatically upgrade as long as you’re subscribed. That circumvents any need to ask for more money to invest in the latest upgrades, or, in the worst-case scenario, missing out on some of the new features that your competition already uses to great effect.

Flexibility: Technology

The broadcast technology landscape tends to change rapidly, so predicting needs even a year out can be difficult. With that said, it might seem odd to recommend looking into multiyear software subscriptions. However, a SaaS model provides faster access to new releases and a much quicker activation process.

Even if you end up deciding that a yearlong or monthly subscription is better for your news organization, customization with a subscription can be a smoother way to adapt and stay ahead of the curve.

Flexibility: Scale

TV viewership is on the rise, according to Nielsen figures reported by Broadcasting & Cable. But this demand doesn’t always translate to a lift in bottom lines; you may need to be prepared to meet that demand with fewer resources.

A software subscription can maximize the use of licenses for colleagues, not just in-station but also for those working remotely. No more buying individual licenses that go unused if the team shrinks. The economics for this kind of scaling up—or down—makes a compelling case for our current times.

Compatibility across Organizations

A 2019 EY report says mergers and acquisitions are a key focus for executives in the media and entertainment industry this year, according to IBC. This comes after broadcast TV M&A hit $8 billion in 2018, according to FierceVideo. While the pandemic may affect priorities, M&A will remain a fact of industry life and come with their own set of operational hurdles, like getting everyone on the same system. For example, when Sinclair bought 21 regional sports networks in 2019, that meant integrating thousands of new employees into existing systems. This can be a particular challenge for broadcasters, who generally work across multiple departments with tech that may have been acquired ad hoc, without a cohesive strategy.

A SaaS model can suit this situation because the software can be deployed to any system, as long as the hardware and operating system meet the minimum requirements. There’s no waiting, nor is there any need to acquire specific, proprietary equipment.

Workflow Efficiency

Plenty of productions have had to integrate remote processes into their workflows amid stay-at-home orders, and ensuring remote access to assets and workflows is crucial to making these changes work. The right subscription model can solve a host of these workflow issues.

For example, SaaS is a viable option for a team that needs an asset management system to integrate with their NLE and graphics solutions, or for a newsroom that needs one workflow to remotely manage digital content on top of the on-air content. Though a general cloud solution is essential to this approach, an end-to-end software solution is what will empower your team to create and inform.

A SaaS model will offer agility where traditional models tend to stumble. Whether others in the industry have yet switched to SaaS or not, a subscription model can help your organization outpace the competition in the face of unexpected changes.

Accelerate News Production

Avid offers the most comprehensive, scalable, and integrated solution to handle every part of your news workflow.




Streamlining Broadcast Production: 5 Hurdles for Newsrooms to Clear

It’s 4:30 pm, 30 minutes before airtime. Then news breaks, as it often does, unleashing a list of new tasks for the broadcast production team.

A producer quickly reworks the rundown to lead with the breaking story, while reporters rush to the scene to set up a live shot. A production assistant searches the archive for file footage. An editor starts creating locators and other graphics.

Getting the story to air requires expert coordination and time management skills, but it also relies on putting the right tech into the right hands within a consistent—yet nimble—workflow. Clearing these five hurdles can help your newsroom break the story each time without swapping quality for speed.

Communicating Clearly Before News Strikes

Controlled chaos is the status quo for most newsrooms. The key to managing it is good communication—not just when a big story breaks but throughout the entire broadcast news production process.

Early on, establish who will call the shots about coverage. In some newsrooms, this point person is the show producer. For others, it might be the executive producer or news director. A clear chain of command helps the team avoid confusion and conflicting messages.

Use instant messaging platforms to share key developments or requests to the whole team at once. Consider developing a daily protocol for reporters and camera operators in the field, such as texting the assignment desk when they arrive on scene and when they leave.

Later, when major breaking news erupts, the team will already have a solid foundation for efficiency and communication.

Simplifying Collaboration across Teams

Modern tools for broadcast journalists offer greater freedom to cover stories wherever they happen, upload footage directly to the newsroom, and even publish immediately after a few quick edits in the field. But working remotely can complicate content delivery and collaboration.

Cloud-based media platforms like Avid MediaCentral help simplify the news production process. After signing in, field reporters can access the same user interface and tools they’d use in the newsroom. They can write scripts, upload video, and edit entire packages without leaving the scene, saving time and backlogs in the edit suite.

As video is uploading, it can be transcoded automatically and logged and viewed in real time. Producers can pull selects. Editors can cut a quick sequence, drag and drop graphics onto it, and publish the story to multiple online platforms simultaneously.

Pulling Footage from Various Sources

Between a constant stream of video coming in from field reporters, a growing library of older B-roll, and new video clips sourced from phones and social media, newsrooms are deep in assets that don’t always play well together. Knowing how to best manage this pile of incompatible footage can speed up the rest of the broadcast production process. A uniform management and file labeling system helps producers, reporters, and editors quickly find the media they need.

Detailed metadata is essential to making this content easily searchable, regardless of how a newsroom structures its files. When video and photos are first ingested, the location, date, and camera settings populate automatically. Some systems can use AI to automate logging and enhanced labeling, like tagging clips using audio, scene, or face recognition, or adding entire transcripts as metadata. But without any additional tech, adding other metadata, including keywords and other tags, is generally a manual task.

Consider creating a list of commonly used keywords to share with every team member. This common language will ensure consistency when people from different departments tag and search for assets. Even with a solid media asset manager, handling metadata can eat up time, but getting it right is an investment: the more info you add to an asset, the faster and easier it will be to find and use in the future.

Storing Heaps of Content

Even after all the hard-earned footage makes it back to the newsroom, no team member should rest easy until it’s stored securely and protected against accidental deletion or a server shortage. After all, if you lose broadcast news footage, there’s hardly an opportunity to reshoot it.

4K, UHD, and even HD video files are huge, making high-capacity storage solutions a must—not just for archiving but also to ensure smooth performance for everyone using this shared pool of centralized storage. Today’s modular systems can scale up to 6.4 PB (that’s petabytes!) of total storage and more than 25 GB/s of bandwidth in a single system.

Whatever amount of storage space or bandwidth you think you need, double it. Strong investments in performance and redundancy help avoid slowdowns during the broadcast news production process or even worse scenarios—like going offline at a critical time.

Publishing to Multiple Channels

Even teams that ace remote collaboration, stick to a proper file management system, and follow the ideal workflow can still face issues when it comes to delivery. Publishing a single video in multiple formats fit for social, online streaming, or broadcast TV requires the team to keep track of several different delivery standards.

Each social media platform has its own technical specifications for video. YouTube, for example, prefers videos with a 16:9 aspect ratio, H.264 codec, and .mp4 format. Instagram limits video clips to 60 seconds and file size to 4G. And these tech specs are updated continuously.

Editors can streamline the publishing process by creating a series of templates with the export preferences for each video destination. The same goes for graphics and text: create templates for frequently used elements like banners and lower-thirds so they’re easy to tweak and add quickly.

Tight deadlines make the newsroom environment a bit of a pressure cooker when something doesn’t go to plan, whether a reporter is trying to quickly upload the lead package during the show’s cold open, or a satellite truck breaks down causing the A-Block live shot to die. It’s impossible to predict every disaster, but the right tech and broadcast production processes help newsrooms focus on what they do best—bringing viewers quality news as it breaks.

Deliver News First on Any Platform

Technology to power collaboration and efficiency, so you can be first to break the stories that matter




Tools for Mobile Journalism: Breaking Broadcast News from the Scene

Broadcast news journalist films footage from the scene

Being first with breaking news or buzzworthy video in today’s ultracompetitive broadcast news environment means—first and foremost—being mobile.

The days of scrambling the satellite truck are now few and far between. More reporters work remotely, often by themselves, to track down and deliver news as it happens. Luckily, one of the best tools for journalists to break the story first is something they already carry: a smartphone.

Smartphones

There’s no faster or more cost-effective way to broadcast live from a breaking news scene than with a phone. Journalists can “go live” on mobile within minutes, as long as they have access to a network.

Smartphones fit a shocking number of features into a compact and lightweight package. Not only can they record a video, they can actually do it well—and still have the capability to edit and share that high-quality footage, or store up to 512 GB of photos and video (even 1 TB with a MicroSD card).

Some phones have multiple cameras (ultrawide, wide, and telephoto) that create the option to change the framing of a shot without moving. Some newer cameras also have larger image sensors and use AI to capture both photos and surprisingly noise-free video in dimly lit locations and at night.

The latest generations of phones are also water- and dust-resistant (sadly, not drop-proof . . . yet), meaning they can stand up to harsh environmental conditions on location.

While many smartphones now have built-in optical image stabilization systems to help prevent shaky video, a tripod and an accessory mount or grip are still essential for those times your hands need a hand. Look for grips that are spring-loaded so they fit all phone sizes. The grip should also have a 1/4 in-20 UNC threaded screw to attach to a tripod and at least one cold shoe to connect accessories like a small light.

Microphones

The built-in microphones on smartphones are improving, but they’re not always up to par. An external microphone can quickly become one of the best tools for journalists who need to capture true broadcast-quality sound.

A lavaliere mic, also known as a lav mic, clip, or lapel mic, can be clipped onto a lapel or collar. It’s the ideal location to capture interviews and standups, especially in noisy environments.

Most smartphone lav mics plug into the headphone jack or lightning connector, meaning Bluetooth earbuds or an adaptor cable for headphones make the perfect pairing to monitor audio while recording.

Lighting

As far as image sensor technology used in phones has progressed, the sensors themselves are still small. Considering how low-light conditions create a challenge for even broadcast news cameras, it pays to be prepared.

A wide variety of small battery-operated lights were designed specifically for phones. Look for a light that allows manual brightness adjustment. Some also come with snap-on filters to diffuse light and adjust color temperature.

Avoid lights that attach by way of the phone’s headphone jack or lightning connector, since chances are there will be an external mic already plugged into that. Opt for shoe-mount lights instead.

Editing and Sharing

While the newsroom has to access footage before distribution to apply advertising or watermarks, reporters can make some edits from the scene so it’s as close to publish-ready as possible.

The built-in camera app on many devices lets journalists trim the in-and-out points of a clip and make simple adjustments to exposure and color balance. Cropping the video to different aspect ratios, such as 1:1 or 16:9, to suit various social platforms may not even require moving to a different app.

To edit together multiple video clips, adjust audio levels, or add text, mobile journalists typically rely on a video editing app. There are many available—both free and paid—depending on the make of the phone. Look for apps that allow for control over video export settings, including file size and resolution, and the ability to save videos directly to cloud-based folders for sharing. These apps are great for a quick fix, especially if you’re going for a raw look. But if you’re shooting for an in-depth package, you’ll likely need greater editing ability to get it newsroom-ready.

Collaborating in the Cloud

Mobile journalists with a laptop and a solid internet connection can access collaborative media platforms like Avid’s MediaCentral to upload raw video directly from the field.

These platforms address some of the main challenges of a mobile workflow. Media asset management on a smartphone can present its own obstacles, with limited ways to create and organize folders. The same goes for sending large video files back to the station. These videos need to be ingested into the newsroom editing system and transcoded before the eyes of the world turn to them.

Signing in to a cloud-based collaborative media platform gives journalists immediate access to the newsroom system. They can upload raw video directly so it can be accessed and edited by every member of the team in real-time without ever leaving the scene of the story.

With ever-increasing mobile internet speeds and 5G around the corner, mobile journalism is the new workflow for breaking the story first. Are you ready?

Image by Marco Verch, used under a Creative Commons license

Break the Story First—No Matter Where You Are

A comprehensive, scalable, and integrated solution for every part of your news workflow




My IBC Experience

I’m back from another IBC, my 12th, and it was an exciting IBC as the show was full of new developments that continue to push the industry forward at a significant pace.  IBC for many years was often a repeat of what was shown and discussed at NAB for a lot of companies and was an opportunity to reinforce key messaging, as well as show incremental enhancements to product announcements made back at NAB the prior April.

The Avid booth at IBC 2019

Due to the accelerated pace of an ever changing media and entertainment landscape driven by consumers demand for content delivered on their devices on their time, IBC has become a launchpad for new innovations and major new partnership announcements, many of which have happened in the relatively short timeframe between NAB and IBC.

One of the major key announcements at IBC was centered around social media and digital distribution and the MediaCentral platform.  Avid unveiled a new and improved MediaCentral | Publisher app, a first-of-its-kind SaaS offering for the MediaCentral platform, powered by Wildmoka. Not only does this significantly improve the software’s ability to get content out fast across more social and digital platforms, but also it enables media companies to insert ads and calls to action that drive revenue on those platforms while engaging with and building their audience.

Data shows that there are over 5 billion unique mobile phone users in the world who are increasingly accessing content on mobile devices that are getting more powerful, with the bulk of their time spent browsing video content.  Of course, the ramifications here are significant both operationally and economically. As more eyes move to mobile platforms, so have advertisers, with digital ad spending eclipsing television ad spending for the first time recently.

MediaCentral | Publisher app

Data also shows that getting the story out first across social and digital platforms significantly increases a media company’s ability to realize more revenue and build their audience and the difference can be a matter of minutes or even seconds.  For news, sports, and media companies, establishing that one-to-one relationship with consumers on social and digital platforms is critical to the present and future of the business.

This is why Avid delivered a more robust way to deliver fast, and deliver first, across all platforms.  MediaCentral l Publisher auto-provisions everything you need, provides tools to enhance content (aspect ratio resizing, closed captioning, titling, 3D motion graphics overlays, and more), enables audience engagement through interactive calls to action (think sponsorship and branding), and allows for ad insertion using server side pre, mid, and post roll ads.

Always forward-thinking, Avid showcased a tech preview of its IP contribution and distribution solution called FastServe l Stream. As part of a partnership with Microsoft® and Haivision® it was a showcase of IP contribution and distribution that leverages Avid’s FastServe | Stream technology and its ability to accept incoming SRT streams from any SRT enabled device or hublet. SRT is the open source protocol from Haivision that enables secure reliable transport of content across standard internet connections, but also it was a launch partner of SRT Hub. SRT Hub is an initiative between Microsoft® and Haivision® that leverages the SRT protocol and delivers a SaaS offering that enables the routing of video across the Azure network (live and file based), for delivering content securely from anywhere to anywhere using any SRT enabled device or any SRT hublet.

This combined solution enables news and sports organizations to expand their coverage at a lower cost (think a single reporter with an SRT enabled mobile device covering a story vs. sending a truck or video crew with a journalist) while not compromising on quality for both on premise and cloud-based news and sports productions.  Avid showed the ability to accept incoming SRT streams either from an SRT enabled device or from SRT Hub, unwrap and rewrap that content in an Avid friendly format, and check that streamed media into an Avid Production environment for fast access via MediaCentral or Media Composer.

In the future, companies will be able to plug Avid tools into any IP based workflow including news, sports, and remote live production scenarios where companies are increasingly adopting IP based solutions to deliver content over standard internet connections.  This not only lowers costs (satellite or fiber) but also reduces the resources required to deliver an event allowing the bulk of the production crew and talent to remain in place in the studio while still delivering a compelling broadcast.

SRT Hub at IBC

It also enables broader coverage by news and sports crews so that they can send fewer resources to cover any story with just a reporter and an SRT enabled device.  Last but not least, it allows users to route content easily across the Azure network to deliver content faster to more digital and social destinations leveraging the SRT hub running in the Azure cloud for occasional and 24×7 linear channel delivery use cases.

Here’s a rundown of other exciting solutions shared at this year’s IBC in Amsterdam:

 

  • Media Composer will deliver native support for Apple’s ProRes RAW camera codec and support for ProRes playback and encoding on Windows. In addition, Apple® will provide 64-bit decoders for DNxHR and DNxHD codecs within the Pro Video Formats package that is available from Apple as a free download for all users.

 

  • IBC was the European Debut of Media Composer which created a massive buzz when it launched at NAB in April. The user interface was redesigned for better, more efficient use as well as enabling custom user profiles that expose only the capabilities needed by different roles within any broadcast, film, or post facility. Though, it’s perhaps the work that was done under the hood which enables distributed processing that is just as noteworthy; it allows available CPU cycles on the network to be leveraged for rendering purposes significantly diminishing the time it takes to render even UHD effects and content.

 

  • Avid Edit On Demand is Avid’s cloud-based editing solution, and it’s not just Media Composer running in the cloud. Rather, is a full infrastructure that includes compute, NEXIS Cloud storage, and bandwidth all auto provisioned and running in the cloud allowing users to spin up the resources they need to take on any job paying only for what they use. This runs in Azure and includes Teradici clients for secure access and File Catalyst for quickly moving content into and out of the cloud.  There is an early access program and you can sign up here.

 

  • Avid’s Audio group continues to make waves in the industry, having announced the Avid S1 and S4 consoles at Summer NAMM in Nashville. Those consoles were on display on the show floor and in a meeting room where users could see it in action. Perhaps the most important thing to note about the Avid S4 and the Avid S1 is that now anyone can take advantage of what was once only reserved for larger budget productions. Both consoles offer high end capabilities with attractive economics and a variety of I/O possibilities that meet the demands of any sized production.

 

  • Avid’s graphics team also announced its next generation of graphics server hardware, Maestro l Engine 4K, which has higher channel counts, supports HDR, UHD, IP, and SDI I/O. Maestro l Engine drives Avid graphics solutions and leverages the Epic Unreal engine for rendering photo realistic images in real time for use with virtual sets, data-driven augmented reality, and video wall solutions for news and sports. This enables broadcasters to economically change the look and feel of their news and sports programs while also engaging audiences on traditional and digital platforms.

IBC was exhausting (in the best way) and Avid had no shortage of new innovations and new partnerships to highlight.  It is an amazing time to be a part of this industry as the disruption that is happening is like no other time in the history of broadcast and media and entertainment from a technology and economic perspective.

I’m looking forward now to NAB and what I know will be more new innovations that continue to move the industry further!

 

WATCH ALL IBC HIGHLIGHTS




Powering Greater Creators at IBC

While IBC is abuzz with industry talent, we have some news to share from home: Avid’s style is getting a tune-up.

It takes panache to lead the pack in today’s hustle-bustle world of media production. That’s why we at Avid have been working on a fresh, modern, bold new way to share who we are with the rest of the world as we move into the next era of audio, video, and broadcast entertainment.

Our new look and feel gets to the heart of our mission to equip creators like you with the technology and tools needed to entertain, inform, educate, and enlighten the world.

Still the same Avid—just refreshed. You may spot some subtle changes in the coming months while we keep improving the solutions you need to get things done.

Like what you see? Send us a note:

 

CONTACT US

 

Meanwhile, the show must go on! Stand 7.B55 is bustling away at IBC, and if you haven’t grabbed a spot at one of our many training sessions you can still do so here.

 

Powerful publishing is on the horizon

Avid is making waves with some instrumental solutions and updates just announced at IBC. We’re excited about our new SaaS offering MediaCentral | Publisher, which is powered by Wildmoka and helps improve efficiency across the board.

This robust solution enables media producers to create content, add graphics and branding, and publish videos quickly to multiple social media and digital end points. That means increased revenue and boosted viewership to broaden your reach—all so you stay one step ahead of the competition.

Media Central | Publisher powered by Wildmoka

We’re previewing upcoming features for post-production professionals too, including new support for higher video resolutions and frame rates. For all of you music makers out there, Pro Tools 2019 is in the midst of its European debut at IBC with an update that allows teams to work faster and more creatively on the most complex projects without missing a beat (or a high note).

There’s a lot more to come from IBC 2019! Check back for announcements and follow us on social media to stay on top of everything we’re working on.

 

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | YouTube | Pinterest