Posted on October 9, 2007
Video interviews: Comparisons
The News Journal’s Web site, Delaware Online, has produced a package about an unusual topic: dwarfism and people who have that condition. Little People concerns
Angela Grant has written a good critique of the package, and I was glad to read it because she answered a question I had about the numerous videos in the package: Why didn’t they hold my attention? The production quality is good, and the people speaking are not droning on and on (the way some public officials do). I kept wondering why I can watch three or four onBeing videos from beginning to end, but the videos in Little People made me impatient.
Angela says it’s because the people speaking are mostly giving us facts.
When we teach journalism students to report and write, what do we tell them about use of quotes from their sources? We tell them not to use a quote to deliver mere factual information. Quotes should be reserved for something unique, something with emotion, something with attitude or color.
Video and audio follow the same rules. At least, talking-head video does.
I was reminded of another example of talking-head video that I consider a very good use of video: The Dragon and the G-Man, from the Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record (analysis). Even though the videos in the package mainly show two old men just talking, while seated in their separate homes, I found them very compelling. They held my attention.
I admire what Delaware Online has accomplished in its Little People package, but I also think we can learn a lot about how to do the interviews if we compare these three very different examples of talking-head videos. After all, it’s the interviewer’s questions that lead the person in the video to speak about their feelings, their deeper personal reactions — or to recount events in a dry manner.