Local online news video - where do we go from here?
With the announcement of the BBC Trust decision not to allow the BBC to go into English ultra-local news journalism, a huge amount of attention has fallen on the existing regional press. On balance, I think it was probably just about right not to allow the BBC to make more video content available in this area at this time, but, claims that this would have lead to a stifling of commercial content and innovation look pretty hollow if you are announcing that you are shedding journalism jobs on the very same day.
It seems like the verdict on Friday has set the clock ticking on a very short countdown for the regional press to save their businesses, before Ofcom and the DCMS might again have to move in and look at whether there has been market failure in the provision of local news. Which, as everybody keeps telling us at great length, is the cornerstone of our democracy.
I thought it might be worthwhile turning my blogging attention over to local newspaper websites for the first time. I've picked a selection of 20 titles with websites - the twenty titles that had the highest circulation according to these August 2008 figures. This includes papers that were not just in English areas that would have been affected by the BBC's plans, but also titles from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Since the contentious area was video, I thought I'd start with a quick overview of the video content served up by these 20 papers. Do they make video available, what format or technology partner are they using, and is it embedded in the website homepage or tucked away?
Hopefully, over the course of the next few months, we'll be seeing improvements in the user experience and quality of the video provided by these sites, now that they are not facing the "crushing" opposition of the BBC. It will also be good to see if there are difference between what happens on the English titles, compared to the others, as the BBC Local proposals were focussed on England.
Video use on the 20 leading regional newspaper websites
P.S. In a worrying sign for how 'cutting edge' these sites are, I had to make nearly half of those favicons myself...