The tapeless acquisition formats and laptop editors that help fuel video journalism are just another facet of the technology that’s transforming newsrooms from linear tape to efficient, collaborative news production environments supporting on-air, Web and mobile distribution.
File-based workflows are the backbone of efficient news production in today’s TV newsrooms. Starting at the assignment desks and flowing through the entire editorial process to the final newscast rundown driving the control room, digital files rather than videotape have produced efficiencies and savings, helping stations weather today’s economic climate.
In particular, many have realized significant personnel savings in the control room over the past few years via news automation systems that let a single operator switch newscasts, run the audio board and control studio cameras. Helping to make this level of automation possible is overall reliance on servers and files as opposed to tape machines and paper run lists.
Beyond the walls of individual stations, too, file-based workflows promise to help stations reduce news costs further, says Michael Smith, founder and president of research consultancy SmithGeiger in Los Angeles. Today’s trickle of competitive stations establishing news cooperatives to pool resources and cover run-of-the-mill news events more efficiently could turn into a tidal wave without a significant recovery in revenue. Making that possible will be file-based content management systems that support video journalists and news crews contributing footage and edited stories from around a DMA, Smith says. “A content management system will have to allow people to stop by, plug in and download video and feed audio,” he says.
Other digital efficiencies in the newsroom relate to greater centralization of news functions, such as graphics creation, he says. For instance, within the past couple of years, the industry has seen at least two prominent broadcast groups, Gannett Broadcasting and Post-Newsweek Stations, centralize the creation of news graphics. In the case of Gannett, the approach centers on software-as-a-service and cloud computing. At Post-Newsweek Stations, reporters and news producers rely on a template-based approach to streamline the process.
Whatever the specific approach, in the view of Smith, these examples may just be scratching the surface of where centralization ultimately is headed. “We might even see combinations of owners of different stations now joining mutual hubs of graphics, back-end traffic and news content management with one giant server serving a multitude of stations within multiple groups of owners in multiple markets,” Smith says.