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Verizon 5G is
helping speed up
and streamline visual
news reporting at
The New York Times.

Collaboration between Verizon and
The Times has resulted in a trio
of new technologies that are
advancing visual journalism.

  • Overview

  • The New York Times produces an unrivalled range of high-quality journalism in innovative formats, all in support of its mission to “seek the truth and help people understand the world.”

    “We are a media organization, but we are also now a technology company,” says Marc Lavallee, executive director of R&D at The Times. “We have unique needs, and a lot of the tools we need to serve our mission don’t exist, so we have to build them. I think a lot of companies that are leading their industries face that same challenge today.”

    That’s why in early 2019, The Times and Verizon created the 5G Journalism Lab. Verizon provided the Lab team with 5G thought leadership, early access to Verizon 5G networking, equipment and consultation, as well as technical collaboration with Verizon engineering teams. Since then, the 5G Journalism Lab has been behind cutting edge, 5G-enabled innovations that have fundamentally changed the way Times journalists think about reporting the news and have helped move the 5G Lab development roadmap forward.

    To date, the 5G Journalism Lab has successfully graduated three 5G applications that help Times journalists cover news as it unfolds and create immersive visual experiences for readers: Beam, Environmental Photogrammetry and Eclipse.

    Lavallee continues, "Visual formats like photography, video, and 3-D each have a distinct role to play in helping readers understand the world. This set of solutions allows a journalist to choose the best options for capturing events in real-time and transmitting that material quickly to the newsroom over 5G. Now that high-speed networks are widely available, we can deploy these tools for everyday use, not just special occasions."

  • Beginning quotation mark  Three years ago we envisioned the transformational quality of 5G and how it could change journalism specifically through speed and high resolution content. And this is why we partnered with The New York Times & their R&D team to apply 5G and emerging technologies to the craft of journalism. Together, we are now proud to be able to reveal the impact through innovation.”

    Christian Guirnalda, Director, Verizon 5G Labs and Innovation Centers

  • Challenge:
    Speeding Delivery of Photojournalism

  • For photojournalists, the process of getting their photographs from the field back to their editors in the newsroom has always been difficult. Historically, photographers on the frontlines of breaking news events had to interrupt their work to hand off rolls of film to runners who would hurriedly deliver them to waiting editors. Even with the rise of digital photography, runners remained a necessity — only now they were often delivering flash drives instead of film rolls. The evolution of mobile networks allowed photographers to start transmitting photos wirelessly. But older mobile networks often overloaded and could distract from staying focused on reporting, especially in potentially dangerous situations. They needed a better way.

  • Solution:
    Beam

  • This mobile photography app leverages the speed Verizon 5G can offer to make New York Times photojournalists’ work smoother and faster, allowing them to capture and automatically upload high-resolution images to the newsroom with nothing but their smartphone and camera. Before, photojournalists had to carry around a backpack full of specialized equipment and use a slower system of getting media back to the newsroom. Beam dramatically streamlines that system — allowing photojournalists to capture in the moment, and move from location to location, without being bogged down trying to upload media.

    For example, The New York Times captured and delivered images nearly instantaneously from the Red Carpet at 2020’s Oscars ceremony using a provided Verizon 5G network for the first time. As a result, The Times photographer at the scene was able to send back eight times more photos than the previous year.

  • Challenge:
    Increasing Interactive Storytelling

  • The Times's Research and Development team is dedicated to exploring the ways in which emerging technology applications can create interactive and immersive experiences for readers — including dynamic storytelling formats such as 3-D, which allow readers to not only look at an image but to virtually move through it. But both the creation and distribution of such content requires a reliable that can handle the sheer size of the files involved.

  • Solution:
    Environmental Photogrammetry

  • An immersive 3-D format, Environmental Photogrammetry helps provide an understanding of events and places of the world in extraordinary detail. The process starts with uploading hundreds or even thousands of overlapping photographs taken by New York Times photojournalists, ranging from wide-angle shots for context and close-up shots for details. Next, software identifies shared features of each image and calculates each photo’s camera position in 3-D space. These camera positions and the perceived parallax effect between images allows us to calculate depth — transforming the still photos into a 3-D model. And thanks to Verizon's 5G network, these models can load dynamically, fluidly and — for readers using 5G — with so much captured visual data that viewers can observe the tiniest details.

    “Before 5G UltraWideband, photos and video were the norm, limited to one snapshot in time or one perspective,” says Guirnalda of Verizon 5G. “5G's massive throughput and responsiveness enables formats like photogrammetry to seamlessly capture all of the visual context in the field, giving the viewer the amazing ability to step into and explore the scene, just as if they were there.” 

  • Challenge:
    Streamlining Video Journalism

  • In a world where the demand for visual storytelling grows by the day, The Times relies on video as a cornerstone of its journalism and is looking — when and where such inclusion would further The Time’s mission — to streamline how video is captured in the field and delivered to the newsroom. Video has long posed a logistical challenge for Times journalists but new innovations enabled by 5G can allow them to continue reporting instead of having to put their camera down in order to transmit the raw files of a video story back to the newsroom. This frees them up from the classic debate of “file or film,” meaning videographers now have the potential to do both without leaving the action behind.

  • Solution:
    Eclipse

  • The Eclipse mobile app is another way in which Verizon 5G is unlocking new opportunities for multimedia field reporting. The app allows video journalists to capture gigabytes of high-resolution video clips then transmit them back to the newsroom. Eclipse’s interface lets the journalist view, select and annotate clips before sending them. The app also makes possible new workflows that enable near real-time interaction between the video journalist on the scene and the editor in the newsroom — a collaborative process that previously often had to wait.

    With the old workflow, a video journalist in the field would record footage in high resolution then have to transfer it to her laptop. Next, she would have to scout out a fast and reliable Wi-Fi signal; only then could she begin the painstaking process of uploading batches of these high-res files to her editor in the newsroom. The transmission process might take hours, with the resulting video possibly being published days later.

    With Eclipse, that same video journalist can simultaneously record both high-resolution files and lower-resolution "proxy" files. Within seconds, she can load the proxy files onto her phone via a card reader and minutes later send select, annotated clips to the cloud via the app. Her editor can quickly pull down those lower-res files and even comment or request additional footage — within the app’s “always on” connection — while the video journalist keeps shooting. This means editors can better coordinate coverage, guiding journalists on the ground then selecting and publishing material more quickly. Ultimately, Eclipse will help readers get the news closer to when it happens.

  • *Verizon 5G Ultra Wideband available only in parts of select cities.