The pressure on media outlets to rapidly get good quality footage to support global news stories has never been more significant. Understaffed newsrooms are rushing to beat the competition – not just the vast number of international online, print, radio, and television media but also the factories dedicated to creating fake news stories propagated through social media.
As trusted organizations, NGOs play a vital role in providing a news-hungry global audience with fast access to verifiable footage. The challenges, however, are significant. Every day of the year, video content is taken in the field, often at considerable risk, and must be available within minutes in a ‘media ready’ format to support hard pushed journalists. It must be vetted to ensure the messaging is neutral and that individual identity is safeguarded. It must be secure and continuously accessible to subscribers despite constant and escalating attacks from cybercriminals. And it must be trackable to provide the NGO with information to support funding and enable continuous improvement of the media content strategy.
Guy Parry-Williams, Managing Director, Imedia8, explains why NGOs that embrace a better, faster, more secure, and trackable way to manage the end to end content production and management process will play an ever more significant role in turning the tide on fake news, reinforcing their credentials and boosting awareness in the process.
The concept of ‘news’ has become tarnished and confused over the past few years. Fear and panic fuelled by the global pandemic, the war in Ukraine as well as global financial meltdown have escalated the demand for immediate information. The problem is that immediacy now takes precedence over accuracy in far too many cases.
A news-hungry audience is never without a device, but individuals lack discrimination – indeed, many people struggle to distinguish fact from fiction. As Ofcom research reveals, every minute sees 500 hours of content uploaded to YouTube, 5,000 videos viewed on TikTok, and 695,000 stories shared on Instagram. More than a third of internet users are unaware that online content might be false or biased. With highly organized factories dedicated to creating fake news, backed up by video footage, it has never been more important for trusted organizations to step up and provide a global audience with trusted information.
With media outlets operating on far smaller staff numbers than in the past, journalists need support. NGOs such as the Red Cross and United Nations, play a valuable role in capturing and sharing video footage of their activity in the field – from war zones to natural disasters. Ensuring this content is ‘journalist ready’ makes all the difference. By providing not just the video but the full edited story with transcripts, an NGO will reinforce its credential as not just a trusted source but also a ‘go to’ destination for the media.
High-quality mobile phones and ever-increasing cellular coverage have transformed accessibility, enabling NGO staff on the ground to capture video content and reducing the need for dedicated camera crews. Getting this footage from staff on the ground back to HQ and into the right format to be shared with media outlets can take days, however. Given the immediacy of the news agenda, such delays will often mean the opportunity has been lost.
But there are no shortcuts – this is often compassionate information. NGOs must ensure the messaging is neutral, especially during the conflict, where it is vital to avoid any political affiliation. It must also remain anonymous: it is essential that individuals, including those who work for the NGO, are not exposed to any risk due to the coverage.
This is hugely challenging. The process is more demanding than simply uploading to a video content platform. Content needs to be verified to confirm messaging and avoid any referenceable names. It needs to be presented to the media in an immediately usable way: including the presentation of a lightweight preview, as well as associated photos, graphics, infographics, and story content. Plus, it needs to be watermarked to enable the NGO to track the take-up and usage of each piece of content across the world. Only then can it be uploaded to a site, and the global media outlet subscribers informed of the latest content is available.
Achieving this in a timely fashion is challenging for any individual organization without round-the-clock staff. What happens if the story breaks on a weekend or Bank Holiday, over a religious festival, or during the August holiday escape? Miss a deadline and the story will never get picked up; take a shortcut, and the essential neutrality of the content could be compromised.
With the right, managed service approach, every aspect of this process can be achieved in as little as 20 minutes, ensuring the NGO maximizes the value of the time-sensitive information. It is, however, also important to time the content upload to maximize global exposure. Using intelligent planning to ensure the content timing reflects the likely audience and country/continent-specific news cycles will increase the uptake by media outlets. In addition, reports based on continual monitoring of content usage can provide vital insight to NGOs to inform the video content strategy.
Tracking subscriptions demonstrates who is watching and when highlighting any news outlets that have looked at but failed to use the content. This information will help NGOs understand the evolving news landscape and timescales, including the way media outlets want to consume content, providing a complete feedback loop and enabling a continual evolution of the content strategy.
Video content also plays a vital role in supporting future activities. With governments and high-value donors facing escalating demands for support and the challenges of an inflationary economy, funding activity is vital. For most NGOs there is a direct link between the amount of footage achieved across global news stations and income – content usage reports give NGOs important evidence about both on the ground activity and the role played in improving awareness and understanding among the general public.
Plus, of course, some of this footage will have long-term value. With an archive of footage stretching back over the years, NGOs provide academics and media outlets with access to a valuable, deep resource.
Indeed, with a light touch subscription model, anyone can access this resource, improving the quality of verified information in the public domain. And that is key: with a trackable archive of carefully curated, verified video content, an NGO can maximize public awareness and understanding while also leading the fight against the fake news factories.