Open News Player Logo

— A platform for creating and publishing interactive and accessible video journalism in the browser

An idea by James Greenaway (@jvgreenaway) for the Mozilla News Lab

Development Blog

Introductory Video

User Experience & Wireframes

For an overview of how a user would experience ONP watch this extract from an earlier presentation of ONP. It runs through the queuing system and beings to visualise the interface.

Headline Wireframe of Open News Player Graph in a story Layers of content

Video AND Content

Open News Player relies on the synergy of embedded video and triggered JavaScript in the browser. The work by the guys at Web Made Movies with Popcorn.js has shown how this can be achieved. They use plugins to define the type of content and how methods to render and interact with them. Open News Player should continue with this method of doing things. ONP’s core could use its own plugins to work with a report’s content.

ONP Story Loader

Part of ONP’s experience is its queuing system, letting users select, load and watch a report without refreshing the page. I propose the design of a format that could be referenced and called upon to load an ONP video. This format would define the locations of the content such as text, images and data sets, the plugins required and the timeline of the events. This could be achieved by using a layer on top of Popcorn.js, maybe in the form of a JSON response from a central Open News Player server.

Content Type Templates

As Open News Player would use predefined plugins that interact with content in a predefined way, the content for ONP would need to fit in a predefined data template. This includes feature images, official statements and lower thirds. Collaboration with broadcast departments would be necessary to get an insight into the templates they are already using for video and for what type of data. These templates could then be replicated for ONP.

The tools already being used by video editors could be extended to allow the production of a traditional rendered video and an ONP video simultaneously, exporting assets and their related time codes into a format ready for production on an ONP server.

Software should be written for non-tech journalists to use to produce ‘Investigation Mode’ content. WYSIWYG-based tools would allow reporters of all levels add extra layers of information to their reports. Again these tools would have to work as part of a predefined space.

All this said; Open News Player would need to be flexible enough to allow for new data types to be added to the system when a story requires it. These additions would then need to be reflected in the authoring tools already described. This could be achieved through a centralised data template hub, hosting content taxonomies and the tools and assets to create ONP content.

Telling a Story

Open News Player is an ambitious project aiming to create a more open and interactive form of video journalism on the web. It offers users a familiar format for users and reporters while implementing the ability to delve further into a story.

Open News Player is rooted in the formats already being employed by news organisations to tell their stories. All of the techniques are transferable to this new platform meaning it is approachable and stories can be communicated in a familiar fashion.

The interactive component to the player’s experience can be used to expand on a point as well as inviting users to investigate for themselves, coming to their own conclusions. In many circumstances, the on screen reporter can introduce these experiences and models. For example, a reporter could be working their way through different views of a graph in their report, showing how a story has developed over time. When a user comes to interact with the graph, they already have an understanding of how it works and what they expect to see.

Content on Time

As news is a fast moving industry and being timely is a factor in a news organisations choice to adopt anything new, a consideration would be whether content can be created and published in an acceptable time.

I believe a high level of integration would be needed for ONP to be successful. If the systems and tools are in place for content to create simultaneously for all platforms, standard content can be delivered though this new platform with little attrition.

Much of the information found in a piece of content’s "investigation mode’ would be existing data that simply needs to be keyed in or pulled from somewhere. I cannot see how in-depth, designed experiences could work for a breaking story. That doesn’t mean that a featured piece after the event couldn’t be created for Open News Player, just that accessing it would have to be through more traditional channels rather than it’s queuing system.