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Newspapers should jettison web video efforts?

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Oct. 3, 2011, 11:35 a.m. permalink

Very interesting take on video on newspaper websites that someone had posted on Facebook.

The author writes...

"Newspapers should give up their largely feeble attempts to draw readers with web video. It’s a misuse of their shrunken resources. It’s not working. Though visits to newspaper websites keep growing, a small minority of visitors watches videos there."

"Meanwhile, newspapers have upended their photography departments, and the lives of their photographers, in search of the holy video grail. For example: A few years ago, Newsday fired its 20-plus photojournalists, then let them apply for jobs as “visual journalists.” It hired seven. They shoot digital video, and the still shots the paper runs are grabbed off those video files."

"Bob Sacha, a friend who has made the transition from still photography to new media and visual journalism, sees the failure of newspaper sites to draw video viewers as simply a question of quality. "

"I’d also make an exception for enterprise videojournalism, long-term projects where the visual journalist has time to create compelling work. But let the everyday videojournalism go. Who will miss it?"

I'd agree with her points above if we're just talking about the quick hit "YouTubeization" of video on newspaper websites. However if we're talking about good video storytelling (like some of the work done on FtF) that grabs at your emotions, keeps you watching with a great story focus, characters, visuals & the edit then no!! 

The key to get more web hits newspapers (that do good video storytelling) need to do a much better job promoting in print/web the story & keep it on the homepage much longer with a good visual placement that sets it apart from other news on those very cluttered web pages.

Anyway just wanted to share that.  Let us know your thoughts :-)


Rep: 91
Peter Huoppi Oct. 4, 2011, 7:14 a.m. permalink

I actually drafted a long response to this guy that got eaten by the interwebs when I clicked submit. I think it's an easy stance to take when your newsroom handed video cameras to a bunch of people without much thought or planning and then sat back and expected their site to explode like YouTube.
This guy's piece is built more on anecdotes and personal taste than an actual examination of what works and what doesn't. The enterprise, long-term projects are great, but on our site they don't get viewership proportional to the work invested in creating them.
We've had plenty of "everyday videojournalism" that was done well on topics that interest our local audience that has had great viewership.
Yes, newspapers should give up "feeble attempts" at video, but I would argue that they should give up on anything that is a "feeble attempt."

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Oct. 4, 2011, 7:37 a.m. permalink

I hate it as well when typing a long response and it gets killed when you hit submit.

Totally agree with you Peter about " it's an easy stance to take when your newsroom handed video cameras to a bunch of people without much thought or planning and then sat back and expected their site to explode like YouTube. "
Our newspaper does well with the metrics long term projects and enterprise but surprisingly well on those short clips from stills assignments (like  a big building fire or a girl who plays football) that are 45 to 1 minute long.

We've been asked to get more and more of those short clips but short doesn't always have to be quick, dirty and thrown up there but can have a little planning and style to it with not tons of production.
These two clips by myself and Brian Kaufman (both done on 5D's) on local people doing good things got huge hits and they can be fun but all things being equal we like the longer form pieces.

I think it's cool you have a movie out and it was shown at a local film festival.  Is there a way to watch it online or have a DVD of it to see?  I think lots of us on FtF would love to hear your thoughts, etc on this forum about shooting and the production of this.  I'm working on a documentary with two others but finding the time between work and family is making it a very slow process.  Hope you'll write up something sometime.  


Rep: 91
Peter Huoppi Oct. 4, 2011, 8:45 a.m. permalink

Here's the short film Eric referenced:
I'll write up some more tonight when I (hopefully) have time. It was produced in four days with a single D7000 for a film competition here in New London, CT.

Rep: 444
Eric Seals Oct. 4, 2011, 9:13 a.m. permalink

Awesome thanks for that link!  I will check it out this weekend and look forward to reading what you post when you have time.

Personally I'd love to read from you how it was to approach a film coming from a video storytelling aspect working at a newspaper.  A totally different thought process, approach etc or similar in some ways? Where you a jack of all trades from script to screen or did you have a small crew helping you.  Did you find it fun, rewarding, challenging and something you'll do again down the road?


Rep: 50
Michael Lloyd Oct. 11, 2011, 4:38 p.m. permalink

It seems most newspaper editors are seeking replacement revenue and one tool for that can be video. But that is short-sighted, desperate and flies in the face of what newspapers really stand for—the first draft of history, the depth and context that broadcast sometimes lacks. You Tubeization is like comparing America's Funniest Home Videos to Frontline. Popular and entertaining to insightful and sophisticated. Length isn't the issue, story-telling values are, as Eric said. But his other key point is marketing and promotion of the work. I suggested making movie trailers for local theaters years ago. The idea fell flat. Now the NYT is doing it. Homepages that have proper display for the best visual of the day and special reports pages where content can be displayed with proper design, just like we strive for in print, is also essential. I still run into people who wonder why I shoot video when I say I'm from The Oregonian. They don't know that we have been doing it for over five years. But when people do know, the well-done project stories have a long life. I got a comment last week via You Tube on a piece I did almost 3 years ago. But the metrics often only look at short-term views. MediaStrom suggests looking at project work after a year to see its value.

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