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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.




The Challenges and Opportunities Ahead for Hybrid Broadcast Newsrooms

The phrase on everyone’s lips these days is “the new normal.” But what that looks like in the broadcast newsroom is up in the air. No one knows how, when, or even if reporters and editors will be able to return to work as they once knew it.

Traditionally, the newsroom has been a crowded environment, where those who create the news gather in large bullpens to get stories on the air. Now, with the need for social distancing, the status quo is evolving as producers figure out how their teams can do their jobs safely.

Moving to a Hybrid Newsroom Model

The industry has embraced more tools to meet its changing needs, but many were already in play before COVID-19. Take virtual and augmented reality technology: newsrooms have been using this tech in their news graphics for flexibility and efficiency, making it now far easier for those working remotely to appear “together” and practice social distancing even when sharing an on-screen appearance.

As CNN Business points out, even the most popular and influential shows are bringing increased efficiency—and intimacy—to news production to meet the times. In some cases, this has meant reducing the number of staff in the studio. Anderson Cooper, for one, is broadcasting his show Anderson Cooper 360 from a remote studio with robotic cameras, while much of his crew works from home.

This also means viewers are getting used to the idea of seeing their news providers’ familiar faces on Zoom and Skype. Hosts of morning news shows including Today and Good Morning America have begun interviewing guests from their homes. Viewers may feel a sense of “we’re all in this together” when their favorite talent is also stuck at home, and producers can count on viewers being more patient with the sometimes necessary drop in production quality these tools deliver.

Even as reporters and producers reenter the bullpen, some things may never be quite the same. As long as social distancing measures are in place, employees may only be allowed back in smaller numbers. Meanwhile, some newsrooms may cling to some of the more effective remote working techniques even after the pandemic fades. Producers may find themselves managing “hybrid newsrooms” that have a mix of both on-site and remote employees and combine on-premise and cloud-based media access.

The ground hasn’t settled yet. What challenges will producers face in this changing environment?

Handling Hybrid Media Storage

One of the biggest challenges for those who work remotely is staying connected to the large volumes of media that news organizations need to deliver their content. “We absolutely need to invest in the cloud as a matter of urgency for our media storage and our craft editors to continue to work remotely successfully,” said Helen Killeen, head of production for daytime TV at ITV Studios.

Most newsrooms will have to take a hybrid storage approach. For instance, cloud storage comes in handy for immediate or live event coverage. If a reporter or editor has to wait for large amounts of data to be ingested into on-premise servers before remote access is possible, they won’t have what they need in time to release up-to-the-minute coverage. However, in many cases it simply isn’t cost-effective to make large volumes of deep archive material available in the cloud. Carefully weigh what needs to be immediately accessible compared to what can exist on a delay. Add to this equation the fact that newsrooms may be relying more heavily on archived footage while some restrictions exist around shooting new material.

Embracing New Approaches to Security

Many newsrooms sit inside the infrastructure of a corporate media environment—and they’re notorious for having incredibly strict system security. The sudden need for so many people to access those systems remotely (and the potential need for cloud-based media access) can create new security challenges. Protecting company resources will require that every employee who logs in remotely uses features like VPN and multifactor authentication. In many broadcast environments, edit stations are prohibited from having internet access, which creates additional obstacles to accessing cloud storage.

The growing number of hybrid newsrooms will need new tools and workflows to run successfully, and corporate IT departments will need to be consulted around new approaches to security so the solutions work for everyone involved.

Keeping the Team Spirit Alive

Amid all these tech considerations, don’t overlook the human element. News production thrives on the connection and collaboration between people. Though everyone is trying to adjust as best they can to all of these changes, being unable to turn in your chair and discuss a story with a coworker can create huge roadblocks in the process.

Killeen agrees: “It’s much harder to react to breaking news with teams working remotely and Wi-Fi issues delaying response times.” Tools that facilitate real-time collaboration are absolutely vital. For producers, the advantages of integrating that tech into the same tools used to create and edit news stories provides the most streamlined experience possible.

Adapting to the pandemic with innovative workflows and technology keeps the team safe—and, although the most important bottom line right now is employee safety, it doesn’t hurt that these changes can also benefit the financial bottom line.

As Robert Lydick of Tegna told TVNewsCheck, “Some of the workflows and some of the innovation that’s happened has put us in a much better place than we were, even pre-COVID.” As producers make important changes that let broadcast newsroom teams safely and effectively return to work in the short term, there’s real potential for beneficial long-term improvements.

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.




Tailoring Broadcast News to Digital Channels: 3 Best Practices

The TV and online worlds continue to converge, and that gives local broadcasters a unique opportunity: even as people head online more and more, they still trust local news, reports the Knight Foundation. And while the TV ad marketplace may be choppy, online ad revenue is set to continue growing, says AdExchanger, even amidst a global pandemic.

Accessing this digital revenue stream could be crucial to the long-term growth of broadcast organizations, and that access relies on effectively tailoring broadcast news to different platforms. Driving audiences back to your own website means adjusting how you package the news content you’re already producing, not just for your website, but for all the social platforms where viewers can find you.

As you repackage your broadcast news for digital and social use, keep these best practices in mind.

1. Know Your Audience and Your Platforms

You can’t simply put the same video on different digital platforms without some tweaking. For instance, YouTube’s aspect ratio is not the same as Instagram’s, and in any case, the people scrolling through Facebook want something different from people clicking on your YouTube video (namely, captions). To get the most out of your social and digital efforts, you have to know who you’re trying to engage. Does your audience skew female? Male? How young? Do they watch with the sound on or off? Is the platform’s content discovery haphazard, curated by the user themselves, or guided by an algorithm?

Beyond your audience, these video platforms also have their own demographic skew to consider. Some, like Facebook, tend to think of themselves more as walled gardens that want to keep users on their platform. Remember: You don’t want to build an audience just on these platforms, but rather you want to direct them back to your website. Make that as easy as possible; if you post bite-size social video, accompany that with a link leading to the full-size video on your site.

2. Play Where You Know You Can Win

After you’ve gotten a good look at the audience composition of each platform, start being choosy. Don’t spoil your newsroom’s resources on platforms where videos just aren’t getting views. An example: Digiday reports that some news outlets, like the New York Times, have abandoned Snapchat because they’ve found that their content just isn’t what Snapchat users want.

As you dig into your analytics, it’s worth noting that what counts as a view varies widely from platform to platform. On YouTube, a “view” is 30 seconds; on Facebook, it’s 2 seconds. Other metrics, like “engagement” through shares or comments, or average watch time, will tell you a more complete story.

3. Make Digital Video Part of Your Workflow

Your social and digital video strategy can’t just be an afterthought. Once you’ve chosen your preferred platforms, integrate the production of these videos into your digital distribution workflow.

Tailoring broadcast news for social distribution can be a bit of a chore for your employees if you don’t have a software solution where this capability is baked in. A solution that makes it simple to automatically publish videos to various social channels could increase compliance and lift some of the burden from already-busy editors and producers. You also need a solution that enables multiple people to collaborate on the same videos for maximum efficiency.

What do these best practices look like in reality? Here are some examples from digital-first news organizations that could inspire your strategy.

Business Insider’s So Expensive Series

Each episode of Business Insider’s video series So Expensive explains why a particular consumer good is, well, so expensive. The series is designed to attract an audience that may not necessarily be hungry for news. The prominent Business Insider logo creates a relationship between the outlet and its viewers on that platform, driving them to other content not only on the platform but also on the Business Insider website.

The videos’ aspect ratios differ between YouTube and Facebook. Captions are endemic to videos on Facebook, since 85 percent of Facebook video views happen with the sound off, according to Digiday. Calls to action also vary slightly. Episodes also have different release dates on different platforms—the Instagram release of one episode came a few days after its YouTube premiere.

NowThis News Focuses on Social Video

Shorty Award-nominated NowThis News was created with the express purpose of producing news videos for social platforms. It takes the same story and tells it in different ways across the platforms.

One example: Its Twitter video about Florida breaking a record for COVID-19 cases begins quite differently from the Instagram video on the same subject, because the audiences are looking for different things. The Twitter version puts you right into the action, with raw user-generated footage from the scene, while the Instagram version takes a stats-driven, polished approach.

While these case studies offer valuable insights, digital-first news organizations don’t have a monopoly on social or digital video. There’s more than enough room for broadcasters to play—and they need to, if they’re going to flourish as ad dollars shift from TV to digital.

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.




Asset Management Tips: Helping News Teams Find Footage Faster

There’s an intriguing shot lurking in the AP Archive: In January 1998, President Bill Clinton is glad-handing a crowd and gives a brief hug to a young woman in a black beret.

What might have seemed like an inconsequential clip when it was first logged later became pure gold all because someone took the time to tag it with that woman’s name: Monica Lewinsky. Good asset management saved the day.

When the scandal broke, you can imagine how broadcast news organizations burned up their media search tools, ransacking their archives for footage of the pair in hopes that someone tagged a clip properly. It’s a telling example of how the right metadata can reveal the juiciest content. If your team sees asset management as more of a hassle than a help, mastering your metadata may just change their perspective for the better.

Find Footage Faster with Smarter Metadata

You’ve got footage coming in and lots of it, sourced from all over the place. Your team needs to find the right clips, ideally in seconds—not minutes and certainly not hours. If you’re not working on an end-to-end system, those clips might be stored on multiple systems: one for scripts, another for video, and maybe yet another one for the archives. To add yet another complication, these systems may be on different physical machines, forcing news producers to scurry from workstation to workstation.

Detailed metadata is the key to making all this content searchable. While your tireless crew is busy ingesting, logging, and tagging footage, smart use of metadata is their greatest superpower. Enable these tactics to power them up.

  • Standardize tags. At a minimum, your team needs to know what tags they’re working with. Provide a list of your most commonly used tags, so that everyone is on the same page (quite literally) when they’re tagging. You can stay consistent by looking for systems that provide templates or prepopulate tags as you type, or offer shortcut keys or predefined buttons. And if your team searches for the same tags often, you can save those searches and make them public to certain people or anyone on the system.
  • Allow for flexibility. On the one hand, you don’t want to create a metatagging free-for-all. But a predefined set of tags won’t cover everything, which means you’ll inevitably need to expand your palette of tags in your media search tools. In doing this, you’ll need to decide who can add new tags to the system, and how they’ll do it. In a fast-paced newsroom, you may not have time to approve suggested tags, but consider implementing a process that lets you review and refine the tags long-term. And while you want to log the footage as soon as possible, it’s also important to enable tagging at every stage of production, all the way through to archiving, to make sure the metadata is pertinent to everyone who might need to find an item.
  • Let tech lend a hand. While embracing more organized metadata processes is a baseline for success, investing in the right tech can be a real boon for efficiency. A spate of new technologies can help automate indexing and tagging, according to TV News Check. Scene- and facial-recognition applications, optical character recognition, and AI-based phonetic search can all automatically enrich metadata. The richer the metadata, the more ways someone has to find a shot and help the team meet aggressive deadlines. On the horizon, AI is set to deliver even more capabilities, such as indexing footage in real time so that it’s discoverable at the frame level. The right tech can enhance your current in-house system and allow for a more natural search experience throughout the ingesting and tagging process.

Let the Excavation Begin

How would you rather have your news team spend their time—crafting compelling stories or performing search after frustrating search to find the right clips? There’s plenty of treasure in your assets, so don’t let it get buried in a pile of useless tags. Strong metadata practices paired with a system that lets a disparate team collaborate as one can help your news get on air, on time, every day.

As Kristan Bullett, managing director of Piksel, told the audience at last year’s IBC, “Everyone wants to save money, and everyone wants to move faster. So, fix the metadata.” ‘Nuff said.

Find Media Faster

With even more options for search, the latest MediaCentral streamlines your workflow and accelerates production.




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 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.

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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

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Helping You Stay Productive and Safe, Wherever You’re Working

The global response to the coronavirus outbreak is pushing the media and entertainment industry—from individual creators to the largest studios and broadcasters—to reevaluate our ways of working in order to stay safe.

In these difficult times, we need to come together as a community to find creative solutions to the challenges of working remotely. I’d like to share how Team Avid is quickly mobilizing to help you stay productive, no matter where you’re working.

 

Take Advantage of Free Licenses for Remote Users of Avid Creative Tools

For our commercial customers, we’re offering free creative tools licenses so team members can keep working remotely.

  • Free 90-day licenses for each of its registered users of Media Composer | Ultimate, Pro Tools, Pro Tools | Ultimate, and Sibelius | Ultimate. This offer is open through Friday, April 17.
  • Click here for details

For students whose school campuses are closed, we’ll keep creative tools in their hands so they can finish the school year on track.

  • Any student of an Avid-based learning institution that uses Media Composer, Pro Tools, or Sibelius can receive a free 90-day license for the same products. This offer is also open through Friday, April 17.
  • Click here for details

 

Leverage Remote Workflows in Your Current Applications

Commercial customers using Avid platforms to manage, store, or distribute content can easily tap into capabilities to extend news, sports, and post workflows with remote collaboration at scale. In the short term, you can do this within your current infrastructure.

For remote editing, customers can:

  • Share projects and media and stay in sync
  • Log media, prep content, group multicamera footage, and collaborate with others
  • Browse, search, organize, storyboard, and edit media just using a web browser
  • Extend production beyond the walls of your facility

For remote access to media workflows, broadcasters can: 

  • Leverage web-based access to the MediaCentral platform for a proven workflow with editorial teams
  • Access iNEWS from any location
  • Use VPN to keep information secure
  • Create, edit, and write stories and edit video and graphics remotely
  • Enable remote access for editors to work from home

To help teams transition to remote workflows, we’ve compiled technical documents outlining solutions options:

Consider a Cloud Strategy to Protect and Expand Your Workflows

For a more comprehensive solution, migrating to the cloud will achieve even greater economies of scale and performance. Several media companies are moving their workflows into the cloud with Avid platforms to find new ways to create, produce, and distribute content on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform.

      • Enable production teams to deploy workflows in the cloud
      • Rethink the way they get their work done, especially in anticipation of difficult times when teams need to collaborate from many locations
      • Deploy and operate securely in the cloud
      • Improve film and television production pipeline
      • Core solutions and technologies include the Avid MediaCentral™ | Cloud UX platform, Avid NEXIS | Cloud storage, and Avid Media Composer® all running natively in the Microsoft Azure cloud

 

Every situation is unique. Avid’s solutions experts and our cloud team are on standby to help you move to the cloud quickly.

Click here to request a consultation.

 

These are extraordinary times. The safety of each and every member of our community, including our employees, is job number one. We will do whatever we can to make your difficult decisions, like temporarily closing a facility, a whole lot easier.

Keep your input coming and we’ll keep working at the solutions.