Tuesday, December 02, 2003

My recent forays into the world of videoblogging encourage Lorenzo Manes to e-mail from Milan, Italy.

Lorenzo's internet start-up firm Lulop.com is among the companies breaking the mould of TV newsgathering, whereby a small number of news agencies (such as APTN and Reuters TV) with large resources distribute the footage you see on most news channels around the world.

Lulop is providing a platform to allow anyone with a video camera and a story to tell to sell their tapes, in broadcast quality, directly to TV stations. They call it Internet Newsgathering -- and it could just be the future of news.

On their website, they explain the business model:
"Challenging the existing model of news gathering and using the latest developments in video compression algorithms, Lulop offers new revenues to producers and new images to TV stations....We want to build a neutral and transparent distribution channel and a syndication platform for independent video-reporters. Upload your last videos and help us to offer a real alternative to the main news agencies."

It's a fascinating and important development.

The BBC is currently looking closely at ways of using video-capable mobile phones to transmit moving pictures and still images from the scene of breaking news stories (read more about the trials here.) I've been looking at the results this week and they are certainly crude -- but it's still very early days and even with the current technology, seeing jerky pictures from a major news story is an improvement on voice alone.

It's not quite yet the "satellite truck in your pocket" that the techno-enthusiasts would like to claim, but it opens up an exciting world of possibilities. It can only be the matter of a few years at most before those of us who work in foreign newsgathering are carrying around broadcast quality satellite uplink kits the size of a briefcase.

(Those interested in new newsgathering technology might also be interested in the Inmarsat BGAN system used with some success to file compressed video reports from the field by myself and others during the War In Iraq. Read more here.)

And so to the latest videoblog.

At the end of each shift in the minefields of Cambodia, the deminers detonate the mines they've found in situ. The mines are too sensitive to remove and so they're surrounded by an explosive charge and blown up. The latest vlog shows one such detonation, of a PMN landmine similar to the one that blew off my leg.

Because the clip's shorter than the ones I've already uploaded (just 30") I've pushed the boat out and encoded it at a higher quality, to capture its full explosive power. It's a 2.15Mb download.

Videoblog: Controlled Landmine Explosion (.rm)

As always, if the format or quality doesn't suit your system, drop me an e-mail and I'll aim to help out.

One final media line -- where are all the anchors in Iraq asks USA Today.

The shallowness of American network news is exposed by CBS's Dan Rather.

Says Rather: "If you are in Iraq and there is an attack in America, you're going to look out of position, and no one wants that, particularly during a sweeps month (when programme ratings set advertising rates)."

That's the spirit, Dan. Sideline the story that is happening in favour of the one that isn't. That isn't news -- it's showbiz.


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