Nearly every Washington-based big print publication has some type of video coverage of the party conventions. As they breathlessly note in their releases, much of the video is “LIVE!”
FishbowlDC took a look at some of the LIVE! offerings to separate the pros from the piglets.
Politico has done a solid job thus far with its video coverage. Each morning at 7:30 a.m. White House Correspondent Mike Allen and Executive Editor Jim VandeHei begin with a look at the day ahead. An hour later Politico partners with the Tampa Bay Times for a “Playbook Breakfast” featuring high-profile guests such as Liz Cheney, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Karl Rove. Live streaming video continues throughout the day with coverage and analysis provided by Politico reporters and other media types. Convention speeches are also streamed in the evening. Finding Politico‘s video coverage is easy. A large graphic link sits at the top of the homepage. Shockingly, this detail escaped many other publications, which essentially put their video streams in holes then covered them in dirt. One upside of viewing Politico‘s live videos is VandeHei try to intimidate his reporters with scare tactics. Wait, isn’t that Politico Pro‘s Tim Grieve’s job? “You said you’d have two scoops for us,” VandeHei said to Jake Sherman at the start of one segment. “It’s your birthday!” VandeHei said at one point to another reporter. “We’re going to let you work until midnight!” Only minor audio issues in the stream have ensued.
WaPo‘s live coverage, meanwhile, is mediocre at best, if you can manage to stay awake to actually experience it. It’s unclear how to even get to a video landing page. From the front page of WaPo‘s website, readers can either scroll down a little to click a small icon labeled “live” which leads to a regularly updated blog on political news and posts live streaming video when there is one. The stream we caught was a breakfast yesterday hosted by WaPo‘s Dan Balz, Chris Cillizza and Karen Tumulty along with Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). Content amounted to a camera that largely zoned in on Portman. The breakfast bore the atmosphere of a cafeteria at a retirement home.
HuffPost Live, the new video venture from HuffPost, has also been streaming segments from the convention. Yesterday the publication’s Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington streamed into HuffPost‘s studio via webcam from Tampa to discuss the Republican convention. What’s distracting is how anyone joining by webcam has to do so wearing headphones, often the white ones that come with Apple products. Video is easy to find with HuffPost Live because it has its own website. Production is sharp enough for online video but we can’t escape the feeling that our annoying relatives are trying to Skype with us. Furthermore, because many of the guests are everyday people joining from home, so viewers are often treated to random home phones ringing and out-of-sight dogs panting.
CNN may have the best online video stream (understandable, given that it’s produced by an actual TV network). The cast we caught was a convention chat between CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Jim Acosta along with liberal commentator Donna Brazile and former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer. Unfortunately, we have no idea how to navigate back to any video streaming. We were only able to find this particular one because the exact web address was advertised on CNN’s TV channel. But trying to get there from CNN.com is a no go.
Moving on, other than picture quality, which was generally top notch, The Hill‘s live streaming has been terrible. We checked in on several occasions. Once, the camera was fixated on a man tapping on his phone and doing nothing else, with a 30-second clip of music on loop. Another time, the camera was focused on empty bleachers for an unusually extended period of time. And in a third instance, the audio wasn’t in sync with the video. This morning’s stream was a panel discussion featuring conservative author Jonah Goldberg and The Hill‘s A.B. Stoddard, two capable journos who know their way around TV appearances. I’d tell you who the other person on the panel was, but there was almost zero description of the panel underneath the video. The description that was there only contained the name of the event and the time it started. The camera never moved, or zoomed. It simply sat with a wide shot of the panel. On the plus side, the video stream is easy to find. Like Politico, a graphic link at the top of The Hill‘s homepage takes you there.
Tied with The Hill for terrible video streaming is National Journal. Once again, it’s difficult to find when navigating from the front page. Scroll down and a graphic link is to the right with tiny font lettering that says “full coverage.” Even when you get there, the live stream video isn’t at the top, it’s almost halfway down the page. In National Journal‘s case, the picture quality is good but the camera work is poor. It was only a single stationary camera focused on the speaker (and we can’t tell you who it was when we watched because like The Hill, there was no description underneath the video).