Wick Communications

Good ideas on video

In Video on September 22, 2016 at 4:32 pm

Green Valley News’ editor Dan Shearer and his publisher, Rebecca Bradner, were having a discussion on the use and potential expense of adding video to the news portfolio of organizations like ours and that discuss turned into an email. I asked Dan if I could share it. What follows are his thoughts.

As you can see, one decision to make early is the trade off between quality vs. quick. Costly vs. next-to-nothing. Generally speaking, I think quick and easy trumps more labor-intensive productions, and I think Dan would agree. Take it away, Dan.

— Clay

Video doesn’t have to be television quality.

We made this mistake early on at The Arizona Republic. We put reporters through 40 hours of video training. When they were done, they could put together a high-quality piece of work in about eight hours — interviews, taping, editing, headlines, voice over, everything.

What we found was that it delivered few page views (and back then, advertisers weren’t interested). Readers also didn’t have the attention spans for two- or three-minute videos to complement a story. And we didn’t have the resources. …

In the end, we focused on a few videos with long shelf lives (I wrote the script for the “Here’s Mesa” video, for example) and we left the other stuff to news partner Channel 12. Gannett later returned to longer, more involved videos and saw a profit from it. But they mostly retrained photographers or hired special staff for it, not reporters. If you have the resources, it can pay off for you.

At a small paper, the 30-second, little-to-no-editing videos work just fine. Shot with a phone, downloaded to YouTube or fed live to Twitter (Periscope) or FacebookLive.

Our Friday night football game Sept. 16 had more than 750 people watching our live feed at one point. Quality didn’t matter; that we were there mattered.

Video doesn’t have to be expensive.

We use our phones or one of the still cameras in the newsroom that takes video. Our dedicated video camera hasn’t seen daylight in years. The quality of phone video is good enough for newsgathering.

Anybody can do it.

We think only “young people” can take and upload video. Not the case. Technology is changing rapidly (and so are our jobs). It is easy to set up a shot and get it out in front of viewers, particularly live video.

Know what readers want.

Don’t go live with boring things like meetings or ribbon cuttings. Go live with action. We did this during a motorcycle ride and the state track championships with huge results. Non-live videos should complement a story, not retell it, mostly by showing action that can’t be caught in still shots.

Here’s a wild idea.

Taking all the week’s video and packaging it into a half-hour show, and sell advertising for it —  front, middle and back. Have an “anchor” of sorts walk people through it.

— Dan Shearer

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