How the Broadsheets use video : The Telegraph

Last Friday I started a round up of what the broadsheet newspapers are using video with a look at The Times.

The telegraph have been building their video in a similar fashion to the other broadsheets. Where the Times work the Murdoch angle with their Sky content, the Telegraph have relationship with ITN who provide a lot of the news content. ITN are also responsible for the production of some of the Telegraphs signature video threads.

The platform

The video section is well signposted in the main navigation. It takes you to a Telegraph TV channel. Unlike the Times the landing page for video is presented more like a standard section page. Even though one click on a story takes you to an all to familiar outsourced player set-up ( powered by a brightcove player. ) clicking on a feature link may take you to a sub-section page.  As usual, once you are in the player, your options to get back in to an article are limited

Articles with video are flagged with a little camera icon but these are few and far between until you get to the lifestyle and culture sections. Then it’s there like a rash. But video appears embedded in a lot of section pages which is nice.

The news section tries something a bit different with The Telegraphs News Now feature player embedded on the top of the page.

The Telegraph - News Now
The Telegraph - News Now

Presentation

News video tends to be limited to ITN package style stuff. There is some nice featured stuff. The On the Frontline video with troops in Afghanistan is good. There is the makings of a really great multimedia piece in here. I also liked the Olympics Dreams video with the ‘video diary’ stuff.  A bit over produced to be truly video diary but some interesting stuff. Again I think there is some stronger multimedia packaging opportunities here.

Some of the section pages have an embedded player rather than a link to the Telegraph TV channel which was a nice touch in keeping some identity to the video content.

Real Sky?
Real Sky?

The politics section page has embedded video with rolling packages – like rolling politics news. I was surprised to see an obviously doctored shot in the opening video about Gordon Brown going on Holiday.  It shows storm clouds over a long shot of the Prime minister. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no slave to the purest photo-ethics debate and I know why they did it – Storm clouds. Gordon brown. Get it!. But it seemed very out of place  -another example of too much like TV.

The Business section does the same (although in the old design) with The Telegraphs Business Bullet. Robert Miller does a good job of newsreader, confident and personable, but there’s little there that couldn’t have been done with voice-over and the ‘insights’ are short, scripted and add little. For a business bulletin it wasn’t graphical enough for me. On screen reinforcement- stock prices etc would have made this more swish.

The Celebrity section had me fooled, no video, until the a disembodied voice started telling me about Madonna. The video was planted further down the page. A mild distraction. For me if the video appears below the scroll(fold) then I would prefer to see it presented in a similar way to the way they present it on the Travel section. A little sidebar item offers related links to video.

A special mention to the Travel section which has a nice, visible ‘hubs’ concept. I think they could make more of this. They have a news topics page like the BBC’s topics. Flag it up more. The pages look good and the serendipity value for  the occasional browser like me is high.

The more feature based stuff is where I was expecting the personality of the paper to show through. The Real Tips section offers some nice video but I’m not keen on the format. Adrian Bridge’s Trebant piece is a case in point. It was holiday video cut with a studio interview. Authoritative voice but it did end up being like a holiday pics lecture till halfway through. Could have been half the length. That raw footage cut with bluescreen interview makes it feel like a cut price clip show.

Like the Times the blogs on the Telegraph are more relaxed with their use of video. But making my way across the divide between newspaper site over to the blogs I noticed someone seems to have fallen between the gap. Sameh El-Shahat and his Holy Cows show ( a truly awful title sequence by the way) inhabits the uneasy space between comment and blog. One or two of his videos have found their way on to the web (his George bush polemic has done the rounds online) but there is no opportunity to comment or interact. And I think this Brand rather than personality problem is the main flaw in the Telegraphs offering.

Holy Cows
Holy Cows

The strands are not bad. Well made (as I would hope with input from someone like ITN) but they seem stuck in TV-format land. They miss the chance to exploit the niche and community parts that something like the blog section works hard to cultivate.

Overall

Its the TV Times, sorry the TV Telegraph
Its the TV Times, sorry the TV Telegraph

The Telegraph have really taken the TV part of Telegraph TV seriously. They’ve gone heavy on the ‘show’ format. I could take a mix of the stuff and give you a schedule that looks like any daytime TV channel I could mention.  Instead of Motoring we have Wheel Deal. We have Ten Minutes to Table, Hilary&Co (Hilary, script. Avoid it like the plague). There’s touches of Discovery, a bit of Lifestyle and heavy politics if you want it. Format, format, format.

I feel slightly bad having a pop. The Guardian recently put the boot in to the Telegraph video at the Changing Media Summit a while back (particularly Right On). I thought the tone of that debate was a little too much like ego-massage, but can’t argue with their criticism in that the Telegraph is too much like TV.

Metro media snipping aside, the problem with that TV wrapping is that the richness of the content mix and deep niche value is hidden. The series format kills the long tail value of a lot of the stuff.

So, a rich mix, competently produced but I felt that my Back button had become a TV remote. I closed the browser just in case I clicked it and found myself on Bid-up TV.

Oh, and the annoying thing with DVD’s is the bloody pre-roll ads for them.

Next: The Financial Times

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