Broadcast skills are key for online journalism

Britain’s largest online-only publisher, CNET Networks UK, is building a second video studio in its headquarters in south London, and has recently been hiring more video journalists ahead of its recent launch of a new online video site, CNET TV.

Given increasing download speeds, the web is transforming from a text-heavy to an audio- and video-rich medium, says CNET business development director Geoff Inns.

‘It influences the way we hire journalists. You need to have a screen test now if you are a journalist coming to work for us – we need you to be someone who can not only communicate in text but who can also convey themselves in front of the camera,’says Inns.

The 10 video journalists CNET has taken on produce video and podcasts for its existing brands, including reviews site CNET.co.uk and technology business site Silicon.com, along with the standalone video programmes for CNET TV.

The recently launched online video site CNET TV will publish four hours of original video content each month across 12 programmes about music, film, games and technology. The on-demand programmes will run for between seven and 15 minutes and can be viewed in full-screen mode.

CNET hopes to differentiate its video offering from other online providers by applying broadcast standard production values.

‘Whether we call ourselves TV or not, people will compare us to broadcast TV,’says Inns.

‘Production quality for us is not about bit-rate in the streaming – it’s about attention to the script editing, attention to sound, attention to effect, attention to multicamera works, about costume, backdrop, location – you have to get all of that absolutely right.

‘That’s why we hire people who are from that background. It’s very difficult to take an existing internal team and teach them these skills – you have to get people from broadcast.”

They operate as solo video journalists, shooting, presenting and editing the programmes.

‘There are people coming through in their 20s who are multitasking video producers, and they are ideal for a company like us,’said Inns.

In addition to technical skills, CNET says it is looking for journalists with a passionate interest in the subject they are covering.

‘Our music show is presented by a guy who spends his life on MySpace and really understands what that sort of audience is going to be looking for. If you want to talk to 24-year-old guys, you have to hire 24-year-old guys to do it.”

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