How Not To Do Newspaper Video

heads up: this is a pretty old post, it may be outdated.

…we hear countless calls for help from these newspaper photographers who have made the jump, as their employers – who although they have heeded the call to move to video, don't understand what it takes to do this skill – are beating them down.

So here are the rules. Please pass these on to your editors and publishers:

How Not To Do Newspaper Video - The Digital Journalist

The Digital Journalist claims to be "the first publication to start talking about how newspapers would need to migrate their brand to the Web, and the key element was going to be with video."

I'm not sure how true that is, but their list of rules for video on a newspaper website is quite good. They are in brief (with my summary and commentary):

  1. You are not in the television business. A TV reporter can do 4 or more stories a day because they have hundreds of people back at the station supporting them. Photogs have to edit all their own pieces, their only support staff is an editor who is trained to look at a collection of still images and pick the best – they're no help with video. Don't expect a Photog to be able to turn in the quality of work of a TV station.My input: ...which is why we need a support staff back at the paper. The WaPo and (I think) the NYT do something like this already. Far more importantly however, is the point that Newspaper photogs shouldn't be trying to produce the same reports that TV does. They can be more quirky, insightful, and (frankly) cooler than a TV report. TV has their domain – they're very good at it. Newspapers, if they're going to survive in the moving picture business need a new and different draw. This can and should be a photographer's 'creative' approach to their report.

Photogs have been trying to find that new an different angle for as long as there have been PJs, bring that same ingenuity to video and new media.

  1. Video is a craft. It can take weeks to come up with a good video piece – it's just more work than still images are.My input: Oh how true and under-appreciated that is. Video takes a lot more time for many reasons (you have to download in real-time, you have to edit in slower than real-time, you have to deal with timing to the milisecond, you have to deal with audio, etc...). If pictures are like 2D, than movies are something like 4D. It's a lot more work and requires a lot of training.

True, knowing photography is a big help when you're on scene shooting – both videography and photography require an understanding of light and composition. And there, the similarity ends, video deals with movement in a whole new way. Not to mention, you have to worry about sound. The list goes on...

  1. Do not think shovelware. Newspaper can't just take footage from a TV station and put it on their website. The TV new report exists for the 45 seconds it's on the air, and then is never seen again. The new media video is accessible online for eternity. Newspapers have the time available to them to present more well-researched, developed pieces.My input: Well said. Newspapers have the opportunity to present a new and better type of video. Simply rebranding TV footage (or doing a TV-like report) is foolish. You can't beat TV at their own game, invent a new one.
  2. Do not be intimidated by your bean counters. Forget ROI. Video gets goodwill.My input: Oh how true. Video is going to be a costly endeavor for any newspaper to embark on. New equipment, training, and staff are necessary – forget about it. Aside from the "goodwill" video gets you, it's the future. You can try to save money now, but you'll be closing you're doors in five years.