futurejournalism

Are we wasting time and resources on online video?

I  love this post, from Bournemouth journalist and sub, on making online news sites more relevant and to a large degree profitable. Our  blogger admits that it seems heresy to say: Are we wasting time and resources pumping online news sites with video content?

To a certain extent I would say, yes. Video is an important element in online journalism, but it is only ONE element. A look at online Australian news sites (particularly those connected to newspapers) and you would be forgiven for thinking, they are just so excited by actually creating video that they slap it up at any given opportunity. Online video works when it is succinct and is either highly emotive (e.g. the mother pleading for the return of her baby) or offers a glimpse of the unusual or fantastic (e.g. a plane crashing into a river).

As our blogger states, only 1 per cent of visitors to an online site watch video. That’s a high amount of labour (depending on who you ask anywhere from four to six hours) for very little reward. But I don’t think this means that we should be completely forgetting about video. As illustrated with the examples above, video can enhance a story – but I don’t think it should be a stand alone story in the online realm. By this I mean the all-inclusive tv news package for a story. If the video used is in the tv news package style, then it sits in a stand alone  video section of the site and doesn’t integrate with other content offered. It also means that the video is longer and  we need to remember the YouTube effect. Very few viewers will stay with a long video until the end, most will sample short snippets from lots of different videos as the YouTube phenomenon shows us.

So what does all of this mean? When assessing whether to include video in our online news sites, we should be first looking at what it can ADD to the story. So that means a video clip or snippet inserted into a story (perhaps along with other online storytelling elements such an informational or interactive graphic) that provides our viewer with an emotional element or an insight into an extraordinary event.

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