Danish media experts (not without help of MYMEDIA) chose to participate in a huge gamble: they decided to create the multimedia newsroom on the First National channel. They’ve got equipment from the last century, the bureaucratic mountains, and journalists who have never worked on cross-media platforms before. What will they make out of it? We tried to find out.
So, the task is as follows: to create a huge, modern newsroom with non-stop news production for TV, radio, national and regional channels, Internet, social networks and mobile devices simultaneously. This newsroom has to be similar to such on BBC or Danish public broadcasting channels - DR and TV2. It has to function perfectly and have journalists who can shoot videos, record radio stories, be operators and directors, edit videos and publish things on the social networks.
Here's how it works on BBC. In Ukraine, of course, the newsroom will not occupy an area of 10 football fields, but it has to work using the same principles and schemes. And yes, there is little money for the implementation of this project. Very little. It is a serious challenge, right?
"In the first days after my arrival to Ukraine, I was a little bit depressed," admits Bjorn Eriksen, the leader of the Danish team that consists of six media experts, and one of the founders of the European Broadcasting Union. "Then, I thought our chances were 50 to 50 to succeed. After all, there is this huge cultural gap between Ukraine and Denmark as we live in completely different realities. Toward the end of the week, my attitude has changed dramatically; I saw a strong desire of the Ukrainian team to develop new approaches to the news production. "
Bjorn Eriksen, who was hired by MYMEDIA, gathered the best specialists of the two competing public Danish television channels TV2 and DR. This is the first joint project in which rivals are working together on a common task. Each of them is good in a particular sphere: somebody is an expert in organizing newsroom’s work, others know technical issues very well. For a few weeks, they will be working with the journalists on the First National Channel who specialize in the same areas on their channel. Together, they have to develop a scheme for the newsroom of the future. The next step is to present it to the potential investors and convince them that the development of public service broadcasting in Ukraine is worth investing money in it.
In order to access the extent of the work and understand the ways of transmitting European newsroom scheme into Ukrainian realities, the Danes spent a week learning IT-infrastructure, the process of collecting, processing and displaying information on the First Channel, National radio company and Zhytomyr Regional TV- and Radio-station.
No to expensive equipment, and yes to non-stop work
The necessity to have expensive equipment is the first and main stereotype of Ukrainian media workers. Luckily, the Danish team was able to prove this stereotype wrong. They showed that the quality news could be recorded even with a mobile phone. Petter Ettrap, reporter and editor of the International News section on the channel TV2, shared his experience:
The technical side is definitely not the biggest problem, and it is quite possible to solve it with the help of new budgeting technologies, states Morten Brendstrap, a leading specialist in TV- and news production technologies. "You have to learn how to use these technologies, and we can help Ukrainian colleagues with that”, he promises.
Niels Klit, head of directing department at DR channel thinks that the First National has problems not because of the equipment, but due to mental readiness to switch to absolutely new operation regime. “It has been a long time since the broadcasting news turned into so much more than just morning, afternoon and evening programs. In the modern world, news airs 24/7. Ukraine has to get used to it and accept this reality,” says Niels.
Ukrainian team has somewhat different idea about working 24/7. «At 2 or 4am, there is rarely anybody who would want to watch the news," says Vladyslav Hruzynskyi, executive producer of informational-analytical department of the First National."Of course, newsroom has to monitor the world news constantly. There has to be a night editor, and the journalists have to work from 8 am to midnight while broadcasting news. In this case, the journalists would have to work in three eight-hour shifts,"he suggests.
Cross-platform and multitasking
One of the main challenges for journalists of the First National will be the development of the multitasking skills: "In Denmark, a journalist can be the operator, the reporter, and the editing directorwhen needed, but on the First National, many different people do these tasks,” says the coordinator of Ukrainian team Dmytro Khilchenko, who works as a producer on the First National. He adds that the whole team is looking forward to a trip to Denmark to see how the whole mechanism works.
Vladyslav Hruzynskyi agrees with him. He says that journalists on the First National need to learn to work in such a way that is not yet practiced in Ukraine: "There will be no difference whether you are a television or radio journalist because you still have to create a good story. It will also be a surprise for our journalists that when they go to a video shoot, they will no longer be able to adjust the equipment for a long time, arrange the light, camera, focus, and drag a lot of people with them such as sound engineers, technicians, and directors. Their task now is to get the information quickly, test and pass it on to the various platforms. "
According to Bjorn Eriksen, another surprise for Ukrainians was the work with social networks: "At first, the journalists could not understand why we were spending so much time working with social networks, and why they, as operators and reporters, had to pay attention to it. They had a hard time understanding why it was important."
Of course, the First National already works with social networks. But this process needs to be improved and increased. All newsroom employees need to think of social networks as effectiveinformation channels which are as important as other channels. And they have to work with them.
It is also easy to see the differences while working with the website: "In Denmark, TV2 and DR websites are dedicated to the information, but in Ukraine, we often use websites as promotional resources. They announce the new programs, publish interviews with the managers and other announcements," says Vladyslav Hruzynksyi.
"From the very start, we worked very well together. In general, Ukrainian team has the same view on news production as we do, and all we need to do is optimize the mechanisms,"says Petter Ettrap.
Among the many things Danes advised, some are already being used on the First National, says Vladyslav Hruzynskyi. For example, the European standards require a journalist to work with an exclusive interview in such a way: he or she has to divide it into quotes immediately. Something has to be published via Twitter and Facebook, something on the radio, and other fragments make it into the news and website. "When the general director of the First National Zurab Alasania took an exclusive interview with the President, we were working using the same scheme. The only difference is that we did not have the radio in this chain because we do not have the habit of including it into this process”.