What is your strategy for video?

I get excited when my RSS reader tells me Colin Mulvany, of The Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, Washington, has put up a new blog post. Colin has taught me a lot about visual storytelling through his online work and his blogs. This new post is particularly good, because he tackles the quality vs. quantity debate about news video online.

I especially like his list of 10 questions, the first two of which are:

  • What is the overall vision for video in your newsroom?
  • Why are you doing video in the first place?

Moreover, I’d like to throw in my two cents. It seems sensible that you, as a newsroom manager, would want to be able to send a skilled videographer out to the highway to shoot images of a burning truck that stopped traffic across four lanes. It is breaking news, and a lot of people would like to watch it. You’d want her to bring it back fast, edit it fast, get it up on the home page fast.

That video might not be big on storytelling or artistic merit, but it serves a distinct purpose that is valued in journalism. In other words, it might not be high quality, but you made some tradeoffs for speed.

My question — to add to Colin’s list — is, Do you really want ALL your video to look like that, and to lack strong storytelling?

Because 90 percent of journalism is NOT breaking news.

4 Comments on “What is your strategy for video?

  1. “Because 90 percent of journalism is NOT breaking news.”

    Hmm, maybe 90% of journalism isn’t breaking, but what percentage of breaking news videos drive more traffic than doc-style storytelling pieces?


    Probably lower than that, but I usually argue there’s more value for Web viewers in short and sweet than there is in stand-alone story forms.

  2. If you drop an artistic, smart documentary journalism video on the Internet, and no one clicks to view it, does it still make a sound?

  3. Based on my research here at Maryland, it’s not only the “quality” of the video but the length and the specific content of the video. It’s also important to know whether the audience is expected to watch a traditional, “self-contained” linear package that runs more than 30 seconds whether the audience can select from a collection of shorter “clips” that are also integrated with text and other multimedia. (BTW, the latter appears to be much more effective and interesting.) In other words, quality of the video appears to be just one of many variables that contribute to one’s perceived effectiveness of the video.

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