Dubai: The newspaper debuted its online daily newscast on Sunday, September 16, with Gulf News at Midday – a first in the UAE.
News doesn’t stop with the paper at your door. Neither do Gulf News’ updates. The service provides readers with the latest headlines at 1pm – all in two minutes.
The team responsible for it talk about what it takes every day.
Senior Hub Editor Meher Murshed said: “The first day was an eye-opener. While we knew there would be interest, we were pleasantly surprised by the number of views the newscast received.”
The number of plays on the first day it aired, was two times more than what the top community video had received.
Hub Editor Chiranjib Sengupta said: “We have been really happy with the feedback. It gives us scope to continuously refine the newscast. The challenge has always been to meet the deadline, be accurate and provide great value to readers.”
But behind the scenes, it takes a lot of teamwork to bring together the quick update. The process has to be seamless, with all the pieces falling together in time for the headlines to air at 1pm.
Murshed said: “We meet every morning with the section editors and discuss top news stories. The presenter, hub editors and script writer meet to decide the top news of the day, which would be of interest and hopefully have an impact on the daily lives of people.”
“We make sure we flesh out the requisite number of stories that can be told in two minutes. Of course, we never compromise in terms of news importance. The script is written, keeping in mind the two minutes slot, then it is shot, edited and aired.”
For Jaye Lentin, Video Editor, the whole process hinges on “identifying great stories, because that’s what people want.”
Once shortlisted, entire news stories have to be condensed to just a few sentences. It is a task that Gulf News at Midday script writer and Senior Associate Editor Mick O’Reilly has to do as quickly as possible.
He said: “It’s very different from writing for a newspaper. Considering that the average person speaks three words a second to camera, and the entire segment is two minutes long, we have to make sure even the most complicated story is boiled down to simple details and told in a compelling fashion.”
Using print journalists and editors from within the newsroom to present the news was an easy choice for Lentin.
He said: “From experience, we know that some of our staff is great on camera, and others have some experience in broadcasting. Video is a medium that’s a bit more engaging… it puts a face to the people bringing you the news every day.”
Almost a week old, Gulf News at Midday provides enough news to keep you updated and aware.
Lentin is optimistic that it is setting the pace for greater things. He said: “It absolutely sets a template for where we want to go with audio-visual media. The questions we are asking are – how much, how often?” The sky’s the limit.