Soon after our launch, we owed Philip Anselmo a vacation (he transferred from another GateHouse paper), so I got to be The Batavian‘s reporter for four of five days (Ryan Sholin filled in for a day, too).
During that week, there were two fire in Genesee County — one was a fatal.
The first fire was in Corfu and no people were harmed, but three cats died. I had the Canon HV20 and a Tripod with me, but no lav mic. Time on scene was about 45 minutes (mostly waiting for the fire chief to grant an interview, during which I shot my B-roll). Editing time was also about 45 minutes (I shot way more B-roll than I needed)
NOTE: I can’t get the embed code to work right in this version of WP and I don’t want to spend a lot of time figuring out (eventually, I’ll convert this blog to Drupal), so I’m just linking to the video.
The very next day, a teen-age boy was killed in a fire. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to the scene in the morning because of meetings at our corporate office. I didn’t get there until about 3 p.m. It was looking dismal for getting a worthwhile video. Plus, stupidly, I had forgotten to recharge the battery for the HV20 and discovered it was dead. I had to use the Flip Ultra. The result is below (on scene for 30 minutes (mostly BS’ing with film crews from local TV stations, which is how I got the high school photo of the deceased) and less than 30 minutes to edit).
I’m proud of this video. Check the comments on YouTube. I think it shows you can do something worthwhile if all you have is a $150 camera.
Not directly related to Batavia, but we did a train-the-trainers video course recently, and I like this video I did about my hometown dairy (half a mile from my house).
You can check out the videos Philip has been shooting for The Batavian on our YouTube channel.
The overabundance of suppliers of news and information, nonetheless the supply, leads to another corollary, one that might seem to be counter-intuitive: the ‘good enough’ beats perfect. The overabundance of suppliers leads to competition that actually lowers the threshold of acceptable quality. When there were few suppliers, they used higher quality content (i.e., ‘high production values’) as a competitive weapon against each other. But now that there is an overabundance of suppliers, their competition levers towards being the first to produce content that is at least of acceptable quality. Millions of videos are viewed billions of times each month on sites such as YouTube.com (+3 billion per month) not because of high production values, but because the videos are at least ‘good enough’ to watch. The production of higher quality delays distribution and widespread usage. This corollary runs against the grain of traditional Mass Media organizations, which tend to delay release of their content until it is perfect, but the effect of this corollary is an observable phenomenon.
Online videos have a short shelf life, getting a quarter of their views within four days of being published, Brett Wilson, CEO of video distribution site TubeMogul, says. Content creators who publish a lot of video will have a better shot at success.
He suggests that content creators promote their videos hard for the first few days as attention will drop quickly.
Is your site producing enough video, or are you still doing hours-long productions praying for a hit?
Jack Lail sent me this link. It’s an interview in the aftermath of a church shooting in Knoxville. It’s a pretty compelling bit of evidence why every journalist should carry at all times an inexpensive and easy to use video camera.
But here’s the thing: journalists have always been far more entranced by ‘the story’ than audiences. Less than a quarter of newspaper readers claim to read to the end of a story, even one they’re interested in … and of those, over two thirds don’t read every word.*
Word people — and this seems to apply to many visual people, too — love a good story. But news isn’t always about story.
We get into this business because we want to tell a good story.
The readers — or viewers — don’t always want that.
Storytelling, whether written or visual, then becomes something that is more about serving your own ego than serving your readers.
So check your ego, whether writing or shooting, and give people useful or entertaining information in an accessible package. Save the storytelling for when you really have a story to tell.
*(A note about video — I find on long video that hasn’t totally engaged me, I tend to skip ahead in the player looking for a bit to interest me … sort of the same way I read mediocre stories.)
Ok, so I’m going to show bad form and gloat a bit.
I read this post from Beet.tv this morning with some sense of vindication.
With hand held cameras, video reporting is a natural extension of print reporting and holds great advantage for newspaper publishers, says pioneering news producer Tammy Haddad.
In the world of innovative television news producing, Tammy is at the top. She has produced “Larry King Live,” “Hardball with Chris Matthews” and others. These days, she’s reporting on the presidential campaign as a contributor to Newsweek.com with her small Sanyo video camera.
Newspapers, with legions of print reporters, are positioned to expand in video coverage, Tammy says. The equipment is not expensive . Tammy’s Sanyo costs less than $800. The Flip used by Kara Swisher and CNET News.com’s Dan Farber is under $200.
Last week, we reported that the Washington Post has trained nearly 200 staffers in how to use video cameras.
In the fall of 2005, I handed out point-and-shoot cameras to the Bakersfield Californian newsroom (an idea I stole from Jack Lail). My earliest blog post advocating small-camera video can be found here. Of course, this line of thinking has pissed off a lot of people over the past two or three years. I’ve been called a few names and dismissed as a crank.
Now you’ve got Newsweek, the Washington Post and even some network TV people, going the cheap camera route.
The party is just getting started.
BTW: GateHouse Media is approaching some 400 small video cameras in the field. The results vary (some good video, some bad video, and unfortunately, some “no video”), but we continue to push the effort and are improving and refining our training efforts.
Here’s a fairly dramatic bit of cellphone journalism — it’s of a three-car crash in Brookline, Mass.
Just sharing as yet of another example of how spot news can be reported by anybody these days. I recommend clicking through to YouTube and reading the eyewitness account.
The Newspaper Association of America released a report today on newspaper video.
It provides some interesting stats on how papers are approach video, a fairly comprehensive overview of different strategic approaches (including GateHouse’s), and some hints, tips and equipment options for getting into video.
Part of my job is to travel around the country and visit our newsrooms, where I make a presentation about our online strategy. The Rockford Register Star is an example of a newsroom that has totally embraced the web. They produced the video below to incorporate into the GateHouse training program.
Jack Lail finally convinced me to give The Flip Ultra a try. He told me the Ultra didn’t have the sound qualty problems of the older version of The Flip. Below are two clips demonstrating the camera’s capabilities a bit.
I like it. It’s super easy to use. The sound is good — for a sound source in close proximity to the on-board mic. Anything voice more than three feet away is lost. The Casios we’ve been using do better in that regard.
The biggest draw back to making this the new camera we distribute to reporters is that it doesn’t take stills, and at our smallest papers, reporters want a camera that can do both still and video. However, at a cost savings of about $100 per unit, it’s a pretty compelling option.
First video is from my day at Syracuse University, where I spoke to some journalism classes on Tuesday. The second video is a bit of our tourism along the eastern edge of Lake Ontario on Monday.