Thursday, January 11, 2007

Video killed the TV star

Interesting take by Frank Aherns at the Washington Post today examines how newspapers are turning away from partnerships with traditional television operations in favor of homebrewed video online.

Ahrens' piece provides support for an idea that's seemed intutively true to me for some time: we don't need to be creating 60 Minutes quality television to get in the game. In fact, you might well argue that the opposite is true. I'd love to see us using cinéma vérité video to add value to all kinds of reporting. In Fresno, they've had good success using little digital video cameras that sell for less than $200.

Why couldn't a foreign correspondent use a weekly, five-minute video post to set up what to watch for in the coming week? ("This week in China, observers will be watching to see how the visiting North Korean delegation is received when it arrives on Wednesday. I'll have coverage outlining the issues before arrival and expect to be writing extensively after the visit about what new direction blah blah blah ...") Shouldn't we webcast editorial board endorsement interviews with candidates for city council? Wouldn't coverage of the new art museum be enhanced with a video walk-through online?

From Aherns' piece:

Newspapers know that it is far cheaper to ask entry-level videographers to shoot digital video of a news event and post it on a Web site than to pay a TV reporter, video photographer and producer to create a three-minute news report for television. Many newspapers, including The Post, are training their reporters to shoot video with their stories. Some reporters carry video cameras and shoot video to accompany their articles when they appear on their newspaper's Web site.

Some of you are doing some of this now. More of us need to be doing more of it, soon.


  1. The MI Newsroom has purchased a GL-2 camcorder and a nice Mac for audio and video editing. We'll be looking to incorporate more video content into our line of offerings for affiliates and will also be available to grab video/audio that affiliates request.
    One of our producers staffed the Carolina Hurricanes - Florida Panthers game last night and posted audio clips for affiliate use. This is new territory for most of our producers but I am pushing them to "be fearless" when trying new things and to adopt a motto that I appreciate (courtesy of adidas) "Impossible is Nothing."

  2. We recently purchased a Canon XL-2 to shoot quality video. It's a great camera, for sure, but it's a bit big and hard to hold for long periods of time. Sometimes I wish we had purchased someting a bit smaller. But I'm not complaining.

    We're going to buy a few of the $129 cameras for reporters to use in the field. They're almost as cheap as digital voice recorders --and they're easy to use.

    Our video philosophy is pretty simple: we record everything. TV news outlets edit down to tiny blips; we just let it run and minimally edit. This has created boring video at times, but it allows a viewer to see it ALL. We're more C-Span than CNN -- and that's by design.

    We do not have professional videographers (online editor Brandon Bowers has handled just about all of the duties) and the picture can get a little shaky at times. You also won't see any whiz-bang graphics or sound effects. But we're still learning.

    Video can be accessed at

  3. When I took video to go with a column on a local choir, it was the first time I'd picked up the thing. With the magic of online editor Eddie Edenfield, I think it came out OK. It certainly provided another level and depth of coverage, in addition to words, photos and links to related material.

    I don't know what the equipment is, but it was almost idiot-proof. It's relatively new.

    While I've got your attention, we need to give a shout out to the staff at The State in Columbia. They posted slide shows in virtually live time all day during Wednesday's inauguration ceremonies.

    That was a great addition to the live blog and story coverage, all provided at least 10 hours before the next press run. They even got a slide show of photos taken by the governor's oldest son, 14. His shot of his brother putting on a tie is priceless. Click on the "Sanford Boys" icon. This whole package shows hustle, and a wonderful human touch.

  4. In Modesto, we've been shooting video with a Sony FX1 that produces both standard definition video and high definition, which allows for still grabs from the video to be used in print. Since March '06. we've published 175 videos that can be found at

    We also started a YouTube channel that has received a good amount of traffic:


  5. Michael Edenfield8:00 AM

    Also at the Island Packet, we purchased an M-Audio Microtrack handheld audio recorder. It encodes directly to MP3 or WAV on a compact flash card, and records high-quality audio in stereo or mono.

    If you plan on podcasting, or featuring audio of a pleasing timbre in your multimedia projects, I fully recommend the purchase. The drawback is the price.

    Michael "Eddie" Edenfield