Newsrooms Embrace Multitasking

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, CANADA—As newsrooms evolve to tackle the fast-changing multiscreen/social media environment, broadcasters are looking for new ways to edit anywhere, customize content for the Web, mobile and broadcast, and limit potential social media gaffes.

As recently as several years ago, newsroom automation systems required dedicated video editing stations to prepare content for air. This requirement created backlogs and bottlenecks, as the cost of editing hardware and software—and the knowledge required to operate it—made video editing stations too costly to provide to everyone in the newsroom.

Dalet Enterprise Edition is the core content management system at the SPEED network, managing all media and associated metadata across the entire ingest, production and distribution chain. This is no longer the case. As the news production world embraces the Web, browser-based editing is catching on— eliminating the need for dedicated video workstations.

Case in point: Bitcentral’s Create is a browser-based proxy editor. Call up Create in a browser, and the user can view and edit live/non-live feeds, then file those edited reports into a playout schedule.

“Create’s browser-based editing approach is cost-effective, easy to maintain, and allows anybody to access and edit content,” said Fred Fourcher, CEO for the Newport Beach, Calif.-based company. “Using it, everyone can share projects and content across the newsroom.”

Today’s newsroom staff can be required to be multitaskers, or at least multiple task handlers. They are what Ed Casaccia, Grass Valley’s senior director of marketing for news, calls “hyphenated employees.”

“You’ve got one person who is a producer- editor-content manager, and another who is a reporter-editor-producer,” Casaccia explained. “Such people need digital workspaces that can fulfill many functions. This is why our GV Stratus Media Workflow Application Framework solution provides a tool set that is user-defined. This means that a producer-editor-content manager can select the specific desktop tools they need to do their jobs, and leave out those that they don’t require.”

In many newsrooms, the current ideal is to bring raw material into one central production area. This centralized content is then used to produce polished reports for a range of platforms, including broadcast, the Web, and mobile. Mark Darlow, Harris Broadcast’s senior portfolio product manager for automation and asset management, calls this approach “synchronous production.”

From a production standpoint, synchronous production represents an improvement over the old way of producing Web/ mobile content, namely by taking broadcast TV reports and re-cutting them after the fact for other platforms. But Darlow predicts that a new approach called “asynchronous production” will soon supplant synchronous production, and prove to be the next step in multiplatform content serving.

The idea behind asynchronous production is that common raw content is used by various editors to create finished products best suited to the platforms being served. “Someone can quickly produce some breaking news content, even when on the road, for the 5 o’clock TV news,” Darlow said. “They can then create longer-form content for the Web.” Not only does this approach allow producers to leverage the strong points of each medium—TV for breaking news content, the Web for in-depth analysis— but it gives viewers a reason to watch both TV and Web versions.

Bitcentral’s Create browser-based proxy editor allows users to view and edit live/non-live feeds, then file those edited reports into a playout schedule. Raoul Cospen, director of marketing for Dalet Digital Media Systems, has a different view of the future. He sees news automation allowing producers to move away from “channel-centric” approaches—one story for the Web, one for TV, one for mobile—to what he calls “story-centric” production.

This Dalet production process allows editors to produce a given story for multiple platforms at one time, tailoring each version to fit the specific needs of the platform being served.

“The story-centric approach allows you to specify what you need for each platform, in terms of appropriate graphics and text sizes, while allowing you to focus on creating the story itself,” Cospen said. “We’re already seeing Dalet customers such as the Speed channel using this approach to create three times as much content, using their standard workflows.”

The Web (fixed and mobile) is becoming an increasingly important platform for broadcast news distribution. In fact, it is becoming so important that Darlow foresees a “tipping point” on the horizon, where “rich media devices generate more audience than the 9 o’clock TV news bulletin.”

If and when this happens, Avid’s suite of asset-based newsrooms automation products will be ready to cope with this change. “Our Multi-platform Distribution system makes it possible for newsrooms to get content directly to the Web, and to social media,” said Jim Frantzreb, Avid’s senior segment marketing manager. “Today, you can’t wait for the scheduled TV newscast to get breaking news to air.”

News departments go to great lengths to brand their anchors and reporters. So when one of these people makes an outrageous comment on Twitter that embarrasses them and their employer, it’s bad news all around.

The answer to preventing “stupid newscaster tweets” is to review messages before they go out. This is the thinking behind Ross Video’s Inception social media software. Among its many features is the ability to act as a clearing house for staff social media interactions.

“Inception allows management to put an approval process in place that ensures that Facebook and Twitter postings made by staff go through HR first,” said Scott Bowditch, Ross Video’s product marketing manager for Overdrive and Inception. “This minimizes the chance that staff will hurt their brand in public, at least in social media.”

James Careless

James Careless is an award-winning journalist who has written for TV Technology since the 1990s. He has covered HDTV from the days of the six competing HDTV formats that led to the 1993 Grand Alliance, and onwards through ATSC 3.0 and OTT. He also writes for Radio World, along with other publications in aerospace, defense, public safety, streaming media, plus the amusement park industry for something different.