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Wordblog revived

incorporating New Life


Does Russell Brand face a £80 ‘fine’ for not registering to vote?

Russell Brand could be “fined” £80 for not registering to vote. That is if he has had one of those letters from his electoral registration officer inviting him to register.

The civil penalty – like a parking fine – for not registering, after being invited to do so, can be imposed by the local registration officer. So, I am wondering, if Brand has decided that is a price worth paying before announcing he had not registered..

Today attention is on his interview with Ed Miliband which is less a populist gimmick that it seems and for which the Labour leader has been attacked by Cameron.

The labour campaign managers have taken a political risk by exposing their leader to what must be an unpredictable interview. But taking that risk can only to him good when there has been so much criticism of team Cameron’s tight control of media exposure: refusing debates and even banning the Guardian from a list to a nursery school.

Neither will the Labour managers have failed to take into account the late surge in voter registration by younger people.  Nearly 50,000 people under 24 registered on April 19 alone (Independent).

Taking the risk and using a channel more likely to be watched by younger voters may pay dividends for Miliband.  As I writer (8am , April 29) more than 200,000 people have watched the YouTube trailer.

Video help needed at Reading

Guardian Media Group has a lot of expertise in doing online video so it’s a pity it is not shared around all their papers. A bulletin by the Reading Evening Post’s sports editor, David Wright, is a “new contender for the worst newspaper video” according to Paul Bradshaw, who teaches online journalism at the University of Central England.

One can only pity the people involved who have obviously had no, or inadequate, training. Bradshaw sees a lesson in how not to do online video and provides eight rules which are so basic they should not be needed.

I have doubts about the value of reporter on camera bulletins with a few stills, but surely GMG has someone who could help the people are Reading do it better.

Storytelling with video

Robert Freeman has an excellent take on the debate on the use of video on tradtional print news sites. He writes at MediaBizTech:

Rather than watching the news on TV and attempting to emulate the format, these publications should start by using video to illustrate better the stories they are already writing.

He provides a great example of the way it can be done from the Eastern Daily Press where a video with sound but no voiceover enhances the text on the page where it is embedded.

Thought needed before jumping on video band wagon

The two national newspaper websites re-launched last week offering lots of video as well as text and stills, The Times and the Mirror, have settled down and ironed out technical glitches, but not all of them. The Mirror’s choice of video content is inexplicable: almost entirely US from AP. The tone and content of much of it is entirely unsuitable for the audience.

The Times video player defaulted to a world news bulletin from Reuters, anchored from New York. But they do have the alternatives of Sky content as well as Fox.

My exploration has been limited because I have had real problems with the video players on both sites — links to individual items doing nothing, the start and pause buttons behaving erratically and general slowness. They are both using a system from ROO which serves advertising and video reports.

At the end of last month it was announced that News Corp, parent company of the Times, would buy up to 10% of the ROO syndication and technology business. Like Rupert Murdoch’s business it originated in Australia.

According to Techcrunch, Fox Interactive, which is meant to lead News Corp business on the internet, did not know about the deal in advance. Techcruch quoted one Fox insider saying he couldn’t believe News Corp invested in that “fucking disaster”.

Fox was said to have been having conversations with ROO’s competitor Brightcove.

And Brightcove was the choice of the Wall Street Journal for the video service on its recently redesigned site. That works beautifully on the three computers I have used to view the three sites.

The technical problems will be sorted out leaving the much bigger question of the bias towards US content. When people from around the world visit a British site they are looking for a distinctive and different voice. Globalisation should not mean an American view point dominating. It may be cheaper but I doubt if it makes commercial sense in the long run.