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Journos, Meet TubeStart: Subscription Based Crowdfunding

There are lots of reasons that crowdfunding makes sense to journalists. And there are lots of ways to go about it. Alas, there are also drawbacks to what’s become the standard on platforms like Indiegogo or Kickstarter. Mainly it’s the whole deadline, all-or nothing approach to the major platforms. It’s fun and splashy and intense, but it’s also stressful and often just as much work to run a campaign to raise money for a project than it is to actually complete the project.

That’s why Josef Holm and Claude Shires have created TubeStart, a YouTube centric crowdfunding platform. It makes sense for two reasons.

The first is that the audience is there, waiting to be tapped. Instead of making users come to you, you can reach the bazillion (that’s a technical term) users that already viewing content on YouTube.

And you can monetize that content in a sustainable way. That’s the second part. What makes TubeStart unique is that you can raise funds with a subscription model. Holm says, that “fans can subscribe to over many mnths as opposed to running a month long campaign with the stress of making the goal. You can focus on finding funding to sustain your production costs.”

That’s interesting. The hardest thing about making the foray into video content is that it’s an added expense, and it’s still difficult to make it profitable. A local news organization could create daily news shows and ask users to donate, say, $1 a month for the privelage of viewing — and maybe some exclusive bonus content or other perk. This way, your content is paid for, while still remaining free for the general public, and you can make a few cents with Adsense to boot.

The platform launches August 20 and if you sign up now, TubeStart will waive the platform fees.  

PostTV Senior Editor Talks Video Content: ‘Find the Right Voice and Be Authentic’

There’s more happening at the Washington Post than Jeff Bezos. Last week, they launched two new shows to PostTV, focused on getting in depth with politics. ‘In Play,’ and ‘On Background,’ were added to the lineup to complement the ‘The Fold,’ which launched last fall, a weekly sports show and original reporting videos. You can watch the shows live, in full on the web or snack on shorter clips after they air.

I was able to get senior video editor Andrew Pergam on the phone to talk about how the shows fit into the Washington’s Post’s overall brand of journalism.

Are People Watching?

He wouldn’t get into numbers, but he assures me that yes, people are watching. What’s more important to the video team is that they create good content and grow their audience.

It was really important in creating all of this that we create content that we ourselves want to watch, and that we would want to share with other people, and grow our audience. That there’s a way to bring people into it in a different way…That was a founding principal. Video is very ‘of the web,’ this is where our audience is, let’s go meet them there.

 

Sharing and engaging with audiences online is also very of the web. The shows are an extension of the traditional reporting the Post is known for and with video, it’s very easy to get caught up in the obsession to go viral.

The journalism and the story is still it. That’s what we’re after. What we’re doing is creating really good journalism that on top of it all, is also ahre-able. It’s pretty important that we create journalism that matches our reputation.

What were trying to do is have an ongoing conversation with our audience. We’re trying to be as flexible as we can and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Now we know how people are watching and how they’re engaging with it and then we can adjust accordingly.

 

Trial and Error

As your own organization makes moves towards creating video (and if it hasn’t, it should be), there are two things to keep in mind. The first is to actually be a part of the newsroom. Video teams don’t need to be replacements for wordsmiths:

I think everyone should be exploring video, it’s a big way that a traditional news organization can enhance its brand going forward… The Post has been successful at integrating video into the daily activity of the newsroom. We’re very much a part of this newsroom, I’m a senior editor in the newsroom, we’re in the same editorial meetings, the politics team works closely with the video team. It’s an unprecedented addition to this newsroom, as opposed to the video group being outside the newsroom, we’ve added a whole new group of journalists to the newsroom, which is very cool.

Pergam also notes that your video content doesn’t have to be perfect, though it should be authentic:

It’s important to figure out what you’re good at and what your audience can connect to…One of the things that’s attractive about the web is that it doesn’t have to be fully produced. The unfiltered, the raw, the grainy, sometimes that appeals to viewers because they feel a connection to that. Find the right voice for your operation, and be authentic. That’s what it all adds up to.

 

ifussss: New Video Sharing App and Newsroom for Journos

If you see something, share something. That’s the motto and logic behind a new video sharing app called ifussss. Say it with me now: EYE- FUSS. 

While Twitter and Facebook already have us all gathering images and looping videos, ifuss is targeted to news organizations. Co-founder Edward Brooks explains:

Right now, it’s a ton of effort. Users are looking for good content, they’re interested in things happening in their area. If you know a story’s already broke, you can go to Facebook or YouTube, but even if you find the content, you don’t know if you can use it, if it’s been used before — the whole process in the middle is difficult. 

The concept is the same as, say, Instagram. You see traffic on a bridge, for example. You shoot and upload it to the ifussss network. It’s automatically geo, time, and hash tagged. News editors can search and monitor the ifussss newsroom platform and, this is where it gets interesting, buy the content. 

They still haven’t worked out the kinks on pricing, but it’s going to be a “very low cost” price, says Brooks. ifussss collects that revenue and pays a percentage to the citizen journalists who took the video in the first place. 

Brooks mentions that a contact of his in a local New York City newsroom says they had five or six people combing through user-generated video after Hurricane Sandy. 

It would make that process much easier. We’re not asking you to change that behavior, but now the archive is there, it’s verified content, and ready to use. 

There’s been much discussion around Twitter’s Vine and Instagram video, but both of the behometh’s continue to tell us that they aren’t a media company. ifussss could fill in that gap. The big question is: will newsrooms pay for user generated video content? Brooks thinks they should. 

“It’s about video with value,” he says. “It’s not just about breaking news. I saw a Lisa Liu filming in Washington Sqaure Park the other day… It’s of no value right now, but when that movie comes out or wins awards, the footage could be of value later. It’s in the archives, tagged, and ready to be used.”
The app is set to release in the store in late August, but they are offering limited pre-release access to the app if you sign up now. I’m curious to know what you all think of the concept, so let me know in the comments or on Twitter.

 

Live-Streaming 101: It’s All About Your Bandwidth

Live streaming video is nothing new, but I find myself watching more and more of them as more and more news organizations utilize them to cover events from all over the globe. I was caught between two thoughts. The first being that the more mobile our news gets, the more important live-streams become as we cover breaking news. The second was that some of the live-streams I was watching were sort of boring and ‘buggy.’

I’m sort of allergic to anything involving more than one wire so I contacted Steve Durham, who’s worked with video and streaming for as long as it’s been possible to hook up a camera to the internet. He shared some crucial insights to remember if you want to start streaming the news, whether it’s a coup from across the globe or your town’s Labor Day parade. 

1) Moderation is Key

As for my complaint that some of the live-streams I perused were boring, Durham notes that it’s sort of the nature of the beast. The stream will only ever “be as interesting as the events themselves” he notes. A lot of the streams I was watching, like Vice’s coverage of protests in NYC after the Zimmerman verdict had live comment feeds next to the video, and they were full of spammers. Isn’t there a way to stop that? Not really, according to Durham: “someone should have been moderating those,” he says. It’s really as simple as that. If you’re streaming an event with comments running on your site, someone needs to be a dedicated moderator for the event. You either invest in that manpower, or don’t. 

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Border or Bust: Investigative Journalists Get Serious With New Media

Social media isn’t just for tweeting fillibusters or tracking fugitives — some outlets use new media as their main reporting strategy and to brand their beats.

This story about journalists reporting on the Mexican drug war shows that social media provides not just a great outlet for curating reports but also a shield from the threats that surround breaking news on dangerous people. Instead of going down the rabbit hole of bloggers versus ‘journalist,’ I find it rather inspiring. In the wake of all of the news surrounding sources, leaks, and the reporters that handle them, it’s been a rather good season for serious, investigative reporting.

Other outlets, like the Center for Investigative Reporting have launched new media campaigns that beg for awarenes concerning issues on the border. They also beg to be shared; Jonah Perretti would be proud. They’ve taken some very serious data and turned it into something that borders on silly — like this video that shows what the amount of marijuana seized on the border looks like and a series that plays on the “Real Actors Read Yelp Reviews” – ”Real Actors Real Yelp Reviews of U.S Border Checkpoints.

It’s takes the phrase “Funny or Die” to a whole new level, considering the severity of life on the border. Apart from their intended purpose, it’s also a good example of the thin line between journalism and marketing. Once you’re entertained, there’s also this interactive map if you want to get serious with the data.

Is there something about the Mexican border beat that breeds ingenuity? Have you seen any other great ways that journalists are using new media?

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