While I do agree that photographers are uniquely qualified to enter the video world, I know for a fact that reporters can do it too. I did it myself! Reporters must learn how to tell visual stories, but they already know how to craft a narration to tell a story. Photographers already know how to tell visual stories, but they must learn to play a more active role in using narration to tell a story. Everyone has something to learn. We can all do it. (Bold added)
Of course, Angela is right — up to a point.
Every time I read Angela or any other video blogger talk about “telling visual stories” or being “narrative,” I recoil.
Screw the story.
Show me something interesting.
It takes a damn lot of talent to tell a good story, and to really make a story sing, you’ve got to get into that whole production value thing, which as we know, has damn little ROI on the web.
If you’ve got the talent, great, but even getting to the point where you can unlock that talent takes years of practice. We’re not there yet. What we need right now is lots of video that people actually want to watch.
As YouTube and other video sites have proven, they’ll watch something interesting, whether it has a story or not, whether it has high production quality or not.
Compare web video to music. In the music business, tens of thousands of songs are cut every year. A large percentage of them are very, very good songs. Unfortunately, only a very small fraction of those great songs ever become hits.
Fortunately for the music industry, even in these more constricted economic times, a few hit singles can make a few people very rich (and not just from the song sales).
So all of the effort on songs that never will become hits is still worthwhile. The ROI on one hit is so tremendous, that it makes the gamble worthwhile.
Your newspaper-produced web video has a very slender chance of becoming a hit (even less than a song in this analogy). And even if it does, it’s not going to lead to riches for you or your publisher. We haven’t built, at least so far, the economics around video to make that possible.
Storytelling video takes a lot of time and talent to produce.
“Show me something interesting” video — well, anybody can do that. All you need is a cheap camera and enough smarts to go, “wow, that could be really interesting on video.”
Think relevance, immediacy and fascinating. Things like beginning, middle and end are not intrinsically interesting or valuable to a web audience.
Keep it short and sweet, and do it often enough, you might actually get people to start visiting your newspaper.com regularly for video.
And FWIW, before anybody starts in with the old red herring about promoting crappy video, don’t bother. If you think that’s what this strategy is about, you’re approaching this idea with more ego than business sense. I don’t buy into the false dichotomy.
Just show me something interesting with your video.
If you’re in the Rochester, NY area on Thursday, stop by the Hyatt to hear me and Chuck Fadely discuss video strategy. It might be entertaining.
Previously: Video can’t win on production quality alone