The Norwegian newspaper turning video upside down

With the trial of Norway’s racist killer Anders Breivik — whose orchestrated campaign of terror left 77 people dead last summer — the eyes of the world are on Oslo right now. And one newspaper there is taking the opportunity to do some interesting experiments with video.

Dagbladet, a liberal tabloid, is the country’s third largest newspaper. It’s been pretty successful online, with a brash and high-impact site that breaks a lot of the accepted rules on online news, but yet delivers around 1.7 2.8 million readers each week.

Now the service has launched a new online video player that does some interesting — and slightly unconventional — things.

The Dagbladet Nyhetsstudio (“News Studio”) collects seven different video feeds and allows website visitors to easily flip between coverage from inside the courtroom, the courthouse, background interviews and commentary on the street or from pundits in the newspaper’s own studio.

There’s also a roaming live team who are running around Oslo with their entire broadcast kit running from a backpack, a low-cost alternative to driving around in a van stuffed with equipment.

It’s effectively a producers’ gallery for the public, allowing them to take the firehose of coverage (most of it live) and make the decision on what to watch as it happens — rather than have it fed to them by directors.

And it doesn’t stop there: the page also includes a constantly-updating stream of live updates from reporters in various locations, and moderated comments from the community as well. And to top it all off, the service works on the web and tablets, with a slightly different way of accessing video streams for mobile.

It’s a fascinating exercise in how to try and do something a little different. Unlike the way that so many newspaper websites approach video, Nyhetsstudio doesn’t simply ape television — and with the nation gripped by the Breivik trial, it’s a critical and novel way of trying to cover a huge story in a competitive way.

And while it’s fair to say that this may be possible partly because Norway is a not a heavily-populated country (a citizenry of fewer than 5 million people means that it’s got the population of the entire Detroit metro area spread across a land mass the size of Montana) that is both a benefit and a drawback: not least because it also means that Dagbladet is working on small budgets.

The newspaper has less than 100,000 people each day; its online audience is around 1.7 million each week. These are not vast numbers, yet that doesn’t prevent the team from producing something that can feel vibrant and vital. Plenty to learn for other organizations?