Thursday, 12 January 2012

Broad-casts, Narrow Models by Tshaka Armstrong from My Fox11 LA

Here is a guest post from my friend Tshaka Armstrong from My Fox 11 in Los Angeles on his insights into broadcast television and the internet.

Broad-casts, Narrow Models

Recently I was in a Hangout with some folks on Google+ and the topic of how the internet has/is/will change the face of local news broadcasting came up. This is something I've put considerable time into thinking about since I've been in the news business for roughly 15 years. I've seen so much change technologically, while I've watched so little change with regard to the corporate mindset on social media/social networking (ie, the technology used to produce the product has changed dramatically and yet the tech used to connect with the audience has been embraced at a much slower pace).

Tshaka and Maria
The local broadcast TV News biz has been very slow to adopt social media unlike some of their cable news counterparts. I think this is due in part to the fact that cable news programming has a national, and in some cases, international audience and budget constraints have required people to come up with creative ways to keep costs low while still being able to bring viewers news from around the world. I can only surmise that local news, because of being local, hasn't really faced the same issue. Microwave vans and satellite trucks have allowed local TV newsrooms to maintain the status quo.

The problem though is that the accessibility the internet provides has turned the tables and what used to be a local news broadcast has become increasingly narrow by comparison. Let's take a look at one local station.

New Orleans ABC affiliate WGNO-TV improved its year-to-year audience by doubling its rating from a 1.2 to 2.4 for its 5PM broadcast according to the Times-Picayne. The problem with that is each rating point in New Orleans is only worth 1% of the total local homes (635,860) which comes to 7630.32 households (source: The Times-Picayune). This means that they did something successfully to double the number of people watching their broadcast and yet those numbers pale in comparison to some YouTube users who do not have millions of dollars of equipment and personnel.

Tshaka and Liz
Let's think about that for a second, shall we? A broadcast TV station has approximately 15,000 viewers tuning in to its 5PM broadcast and yet there are several YouTube users who put out content regularly, reaching audiences far larger than that. Back in the local TV broadcast news business there have been people working on the inside trying to get local news up to speed with the rest of the world and social media but many have been resistant, often discounting the power and reach of new media and social media. I think some of this has been because those making the decisions haven't completely figured out what the return on investment is going to be, or even what that return looks like financially. Therein lies the problem. While those in the corporate world have waited and watched to see how the changing technological landscape could be leveraged for their ends, others have used it and gained mass followings and supplemented their own incomes and in some cases, created primary sources of income that feed, clothe and house their families.

We have to, as an industry, embrace the interwebz and related technologies, but with a larger mindset than the one previously held. We have to become just as good at multi-tasking as everyone else in this culture. We have to focus on the hyper-local while not missing out on opportunities to connect to the larger national and even international consciousness. Opportunities to connect with movements like #OccupyWallStreet and the people at the polls this election season, not just the candidates, will help local newsrooms stay relevant. In the end though, content is king. Citizen journalists have more access than ever to create compelling content that connects with large swaths of internet mindshare so it's imperative more than any other time in history that the local newsroom focus on enterprise stories and use what professional resources they have available to create equally engrossing content that provides regional context for larger stories.

Local broadcasts aren't so broad anymore. If we're to cast our content to a broad audience we're going to have to jump in with both feet! If we're about being broad the internet is the place to be. It truly is broad. We either find the synergy between the traditional and the cutting edge or we start calling ourselves Narrow-casters.

What do you think? Have you seen some of the same issues in your own news rooms? Have you noticed this as a viewer?

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

GOVERNMENT ANNOUNCEMENT OF HS2 DECISION (as emailed to me at 9.06am today) In full it reads..

HS2 at Kenilworth, Warwickshire

Find Revised Route Maps (Kenilworth is Map 23)

Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Transport, has today announced her decision to proceed with the plans to build a high speed rail line between London and the West Midlands and on to Manchester and Leeds. HS2 will improve capacity across the rail network, shorten journey times between Britain’s major population centres, boost the economy and create thousands of jobs.
I am aware of the strong feelings for and against HS2 but the Government has now decided that the time is right to build a high speed network that connects our major cities, Heathrow and continental Europe.  This will be one of the most significant transport projects ever undertaken in the UK.
Burton Green
The first phase – from London to the West Midlands - will free up much needed space for other services on the West Coast Main Line, help drive economic benefits and enhance business productivity, while taking you from London to Birmingham in just 49 minutes.
Now that ministers have decided to go ahead with the project our purpose changes significantly.  Rather than just advising Government we will now move to promoting the project as well.   Engineering, design and environmental work begins immediately in preparation for the hybrid Bill for the London to West Midlands section, and we will continue to develop proposals for the Manchester and Leeds legs.
The consultation that ran from February to July last year generated 54,909 responses and helped inform a series of refinements that have been made to the route. 
A package of alterations were recommended by HS2 Ltd and accepted by the Transport Secretary. (See key changes below) Compared to the consultation route there will be a 50 per cent increase in tunnel or green tunnel - totalling around 22.5 miles.  In addition, around 56.5 of the 140 miles of the London to West Midlands line will be partially or totally hidden in cutting.  In the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) just over one and a half miles of the route will be visible.

  1. Increase the clearance of HS2 over the Trent and Mersey Canal near Lichfield. The change is required to keep the canal navigable and will slightly improve flood management.
  1. Move the route slightly further away from Middleton. The changes to the scheme in this area will result in fewer demolitions and less noise impacts.
  1. Mitigation of impacts on Balsall Common by moving the line further away from the community and lowering the height of the viaduct.
  1. A shallower cutting and longer green tunnel at Burton Green. Changes here include mitigating local impacts and reducing spoil generation, whilst still shielding the visual impact of the trains from the community.
  1. Avoid Kenilworth Golf Club, lower the line further into cutting through the National Agricultural Centre, and introduce a narrower cutting through South Cubbington Wood. This will help mitigate the impacts in this area and also avoid the need for the demolition of a Grade II listed farmhouse at Kenilworth.
  1. Introduce a longer bored tunnel at Long Itchington Wood. This will reduce land take, noise, landscape and visual impacts significantly.
  1. Introduce a longer green tunnel past Chipping Warden and Aston le Walls, and curve the route to avoid a cluster of important heritage sites around Edgcote. These changes will provide additional mitigation for Aston le Walls, reduce setting impact on Grade I listed Edgcote House, avoid a Scheduled Monument (the Roman Villa site) and the possible location of the historic Edgcote Moor battlefield.
  1. Lower the alignment and introduce a green tunnel past Greatworth, and a short green tunnel at Turweston.  These changes will help mitigate landscape, noise and visual impacts as well as remove the need for a viaduct.
  1. Move the route further from Twyford, taking it further away from Twyford and reducing noise. This will assist mitigating impacts on Twyford by making some land available between HS2 and the village that would allow for landscaped earthworks that will reduce noise and visual impacts.
  1. Lower the alignment past Aylesbury and Stoke Mandeville to reduce local impacts and eliminate the need for larger scale works to local roads and the Chiltern Railways line.
  1. Introduce a longer, now continuous tunnel from Little Missenden to the M25 through the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to reduce the need for deep cutting and to avoid a major aquifer. This will provide an overall benefit to landscape and features in the AONB.
  1. Introduce a 2.75 mile (4.4 km) bored tunnel along the Northolt Corridor to avoid major works to the Chilterns Line and impacts on local communities in the Ruislip area. This will have the effect of removing all surface impacts apart from the need for an intervention shaft.



The Department for Transport intends to introduce a hybrid Bill to Parliament by the end of 2013 to provide the necessary powers to construct and operate Phase 1 of the project.  In order to achieve this timetable the following work will be carried out.
Environmental Impact Assessment
HS2 Ltd will develop the preliminary design of the route and the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) to enable an Environmental Statement to be produced and consulted on in the Spring 2013.

Safeguarding consultation

Safeguarding boundaries will protect the land that will eventually be needed to build and operate HS2 from the development of new construction projects. We intend to draw up a provisional set of boundaries and hold a consultation on them also in Spring 2012, around the same time as the consultation on blight proposals.
We will consult with the statutory bodies, including local highways authorities and planning authorities, which have a direct involvement in safeguarding issues. We will use their feedback to finalise the arrangements for safeguarding, which are likely to be in place in autumn 2012.

Blight consultation

In Spring 2012 HS2 Ltd will undertake a public consultation on proposals to help people who are close to and affected by the route. The consultation will last for 12 weeks and it will help to shape a package of compensation measures which we again expect to be in place for autumn 2012.
The revised route announced today almost halves the numbers of dwellings at risk of land take and reduces by a third the number experiencing increased noise levels.  To assist affected homeowners, communities and businesses a package of property measures are to be brought in over and above what affected homeowners are already entitled to under law. 
There will be a streamlined purchase scheme, a refreshed hardship scheme, support for those affected by construction, measures to reinforce confidence in properties above tunnels and a sale and rent scheme

How will we work with local communities?

We will work closely with local authorities, communities and stakeholders to develop the route, identifying potential impacts and exploring the best opportunities to mitigate them.
As part of our ongoing engagement with local people and organisations on the London to West Midlands route we will set up community forums, planning forums and an environment forum.

  • Community forums will enable communities to identify the most significant impacts in each area and contribute to our efforts to mitigate them.
  • Planning forums will facilitate discussion of route design development, planning issues, environmental impacts and mitigation principles. They will involve officers from local authorities and other transport and planning bodies.
  • An Environment forum will involve national representatives of environmental consultees and government departments. This group will assist the development of environmental policy for the development stage of HS2.

Community Forums:

We will establish community forums along the line of route from London to the West Midlands as one way of working with local communities. We will discuss with county, district and parish councils how best to create community forums that will work in each area.
These forums will meet over the coming year. We hope that approximately 15-20 representatives of each local community will work with us to:
  • inform the local community about HS2 proposals and consultations.
  • highlight local priorities for mitigating the environmental impacts of the route.
  • discuss potential mitigation options, such as screening views of the railway, managing noise and reinstating highways.
  • identify possible community benefits.


HS2 Ltd will also continue to work on proposals for the line of route from Birmingham to Leeds and Manchester - phase 2 of the project. 
We plan to submit recommendations for route and station options for phase 2, including a connection to Heathrow, to ministers by Spring 2012.  We anticipate that a period of engagement and consultation will follow.  Following consultation, it is expected that a decision will be made by ministers on the preferred route for phase 2 by December 2014.
This timetable will be kept under review with a view to ensuring as swift a process as possible while recognising the need for extensive engagement.
You can find all the recently published decision documents at:

You can also contact the public enquiry line for more information on 020 7944 4908 or

Yours sincerely,

Sir Brian Briscoe

High Speed Two (HS2) Limited, registered in England.  Registered number 06791686.  Registered office Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

News Buoys and Social-casting: How the Google Hangouts On-Air feature is transforming traditional TV Broadcasting by Sarah Hill

A Buoy and Anchor
As you may already know, G+ has rolled out to a limited number of users what's called an On-air Hangout. It is essentially a broadcast tower embedded within Google Plus, the world's first face to face social network. 

The On-Air feature allows a Hangout to easily be broadcast (viewed) by the public anywhere in the world without having to join the Hangout. We TV News Buoys and Missouri Journalism School nerds who are using this new technology on TV on +KOMU 8 News & with the +Reynolds Journalism Institute are pretty geeked out about it. Here's why. 

Sarah Hill
In the future, content providers could be able to use different circles as essentially different broadcast stations. Using livestream technology, we already have the ability to select who sees our Hangout through circles but this feature eliminates the need for livestreaming. Anyone could easily broadcast one Hangout just to the Australia circle, another to the England circle and yet another to the KOMU-Missouri circle. Catch my drift? It's where TV meets GP. On this platform, people are already calling KOMU-TV.... KOMU-GP. h/t +Mike Downes GP is now a public broadcasting platform.

Just think about that for a moment...........anyone in the world, not just us TV stations with big sticks in the ground, with the ability to broadcast WITHIN a social network that oh by the way is a major crowd sourcing tool. Combine Hangouts, audience engagement on steroids, and you have something that could totally transform the way newscasters interact with their audience and the way TV stations do business. I wear two earpieces. One to hear my producer and another to hear the Hangout. For the first time in history thanks to Hangouts, newscasters can SEE their audience and even talk with them during a soundbite in a live newscast. When you're spending an entire hour a day or more with a viewer during a live 

newscast, that's a deeper level of engagement than you get with any non face to face tweet or Facebook interaction. When I read a story about a child who's been murdered, I hear the Hangout sigh in my ear. +Kim Beasley

News Hangouts are like a kitchen table for a family. A family that eats together stays together. Some of our U_News co-hosts +Robert Redl call it the news campfire and we are all consuming the news together via Hangouts. Daily, our Hangout co-hosts break news to us. Since feeding the news beast now requires us to share content and interact on multiple platforms, our co-hosts routinely arrive more well informed about the day’s news than us. Yep. I said that. Out loud. More of us newsies need to own the fact that our viewers often know more than we do. But as +Joseph Puglisi points out, "citizen journalism" could increase the value of professional journalism in the future because people will still want “Facts at 11”. I don't like the term "citizen journalist". Those were finger quotes. Essentially, we are all journalists.

+KOMU 8 News is the broadcast lab for the Missouri School of Journalism. We're building a hybrid news model called "U_News" that explores the future of news. +KOMU 8 News was the first news organization to co-host a newscast with a live #cybercouch via Hangout. In +Terry Heaton 's book "Reinventing Local Media", we are essentially driving the car while trying to fix it. At MU, we are also teaching others how to drive the news vehicle of the future. h/t +Jen Reeves +Stacey Woelfel +Reynolds Journalism Institute What will "broadcasting" in the G+ stream look like in 20 years? What is the longevity of that big stick in the ground called a TV tower when everyone has the ability to broadcast? I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

News Anchor or News Buoy?
With this new kind of "broadcasting" in Hangouts, our students are asking what to call this new kind of "broadcasting" in the G+ stream? Social-casting? Perhaps... incorrectly....I've been calling our G+ on-air Hangouts a "visual #backchannel" where for the first time, newscasters can see their audience. One Plusketeer correctly pointed out, "Sarah, the word "back" makes it appear as it's hidden some place out of view." Isn't it time to move our audience away from the BACK of the room? h/t +Michael Tucker

Roger that skipper and speaking of names, I think this platform has the ability to sink News “Anchors” who refuse to do anything more than just read. Our content needs to bubble up to the surface. “News Buoys” as I call them need to float on multiple platforms and share their content.

Sure, we’re still anchored to the seabed of our TV station but much like a buoy, we are letting passing ships know where to find us. And if you think I’m making the analogy that TV stations are sinking ships, I'm not. You should know there’s a lot of buried treasure on the sea floor. And with Hangouts, we're trying to help people rediscover us.

What should we call G+casting in the stream? Comment below or chew the news fat with me in one of U_News' regular on-air Hangouts at 11:00 am CST or 3:30 pm CST M-F. Or, chime in on one of our impromptu recorded discussions about the day's

To view this post at g+ see: News Buoys and Social-casting

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