WHAT made the midterm elections different from past exercises for the media was the widespread use of live and video reporting from the campaign period to the proclamation of winners.
Expect this practice of using video in news reporting to continue and improve as media organizations seriously go digital-first, or report the news first on social media and websites, and as the public expect to have information instantly and on their mobile devices.
Election reporting done on video included live interviews of news personalities on the field and inside studios, panel discussions, actual polling in precincts around Cebu, incidents of harassment, protests, canvassing of votes, proclamation of election winners, statements of losers and more studio interviews of the proclaimed candidates. The video reporting was complemented by graphics, recorded audio, phone-patched conversations, animation and maps. An interactive map of winners is informative and fun.
In past elections, video reports were sparse, viewership was limited and trolls and memes dominated social media space because they were numerous and new to many Filipinos.
In this year’s elections, SunStar and other notable media organizations made reporting live on Facebook a requirement, with the video boosted for a wider reach and embedded on the website for traction and possible revenue from pageviews and advertising clicks. Newsrooms knew they had to be on social media to battle false information. Also new was the involvement of companies as advertisers or sponsors in news on video.
Another requirement was for media organizations to invest in equipment, connectivity and people. SunStar invested and continues to invest heavily in equipment to enhance audio and video quality, software to allow airing from different points and flexibility in the kinds of infographics and connection to the internet for those on the field and on people with the skills to make the purchases worth it.
All these mean fund infusions even for bigger, Metro Manila-based media companies. Imagine those in the provinces, who practice community journalism and their challenges. This is where partnerships with outside entities and break-down-the-wall and all-ideas-are-welcome types of internal collaboration matter.
There were gaffes--dead air, long intervals and lip-sync errors when the video of SunStar election live reporting main host Cherry Ann Lim speaking does not match the sound of her speaking. What do you expect of journalists who grew up on print but are now reporting before the camera? Lim is senior editor for print under the SunStar integrated newsroom setup, yet she’s the face of SunStar on video.
Technical issues were eventually fixed and, as Michelle So, director for network newsrooms, said, the live coverage wasn’t perfect but we broke ground in community journalism.
The election coverage on video was the first integrated attempt by SunStar to use predominantly a medium other than print. It won’t be the last.