Technical paper: This paper presents the design and development of Storymaker - a collaborative tool that aims to bridge the gap between incoming user generated videos and the workspaces of different editorial teams.

Abstract

The routines of social media are increasingly integrated in our daily life, including the way we consume and produce audio-visual media. As a result, public service media (PSM) are investing in participatory formats that allow the media consumer to share content for their professional production, thereby causing an overwhelming amount of audio-visual materials that need to be processed manually. In contrast to professional footage, content creators do not have production sheets, scripts or storyboards that indicates the action and camera angles of consumer-produced footage.

In this paper, we report on the design and development of Storymaker; a tool that deploys video object recognition to label and categorize video content in order to facilitate the actual storytelling process. As a case study, we present how a first version of this tool was used to create a television item for the Flemish public broadcaster VRT. Then, we present the second iteration and its deployment in a journalistic context. Finally, we reflect on future work within our own organization and beyond.

Introduction

Today, consumers of traditional media as television and radio have many more tools than before for interacting with that media, making their voice heard, circulating media content within their networks and producing their own content. Audiences are now used to not only receiving content, but to produce, circulate and share content ‘Jenkins et al (1)’. A participatory turn is happening in the way audiences engage with media content and media companies. While only a few years ago, user generated video content (UGV) mostly resided on platforms such as Youtube - today, young audiences are active on TikTok, Instagram Stories or Snapchat - social media platforms that offer ready-made storytelling formats. As a result, storytelling with videos is even more familiar. Meanwhile, traditional media, such as television and news, are exploring new ways to attract younger audiences, of which UGV forms one particular strategy. In fact, for public service media (PSM), UGV contributes to their universal appeal as it allows them to connect to the community at large ‘Van Dijck and Poell (2)’. At the BBC, for example, user generated content projects facilitate an increased representation of its public, while building social capital amongst its participants ‘Hutchinson (3), Bonini (4)’ Also at the Flemish PSM, VRT, TV shows that incorporate user generated video trigger a prolonged engagement with its participants ‘Claes et al, (5)’. However, in contrast to the above mentioned social media platforms, traditional media are not yet sufficiently organised to process such UGV, both in terms of creative content production as in terms of quantity and image quality. Also, traditional media aims to create professional media content with UGV, which is different to those social media platforms that publish content of UGV.

In this paper, we present the design and development of Storymaker, i.e. a collaborative tool that aims to bridge the gap between incoming user generated videos and the workspaces of different editorial teams. Furthermore, Storymaker acts as an archiving tool for UGC. This tool is deployed by different editorial teams of VRT (Flemish public service media), which we discuss in the study section. We then present the results and reflect on our learnings. We conclude this paper with future work.

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