Monday, October 23, 2006

Video killed the etc etc part 2

Second piece came on the UK Press Gazette's AOL sponsored discuss journalism forum and, yes, Mr Osato is well aware that AOL is the work of the devil but it looks like the UKPG needs the cash at the moment, so we'll let them off.

In his post, academic Paul Bradshaw makes a powerful case about the unseemly rush by newspaper groups into the world of video and audio content. To give you a taster:

Trinity's editorial director Neil Benson has been quoted as saying "we're basing the new website design on interactivity".

But making news interactive and putting video online are two different - and contradictory - things.

Video is, if anything, even less interactive than print. You cannot scan-read a video, you cannot skip to the last paragraph, or look for the intriguing subheading.

And with video online, you lose the number one and number two ways that people navigate content - search and links.

What is presented as a rush to online news is becoming a rush to TV news - a form of TV news which just happens to be broadcast on the web. And in that rush, newspapers are in danger of not exploiting the real benefits of the web - giving users control, providing extra information and context that wouldn't fit in a print or video version of the story, creating communities between readers, or a forum for them to express their knowledge and opinions, communicating complex concepts in a way that can't be done with words alone, engaging the reader through innovative formats, or by connecting them directly with interviewees.

Give that man a cigar. It's the concept Mr Osato has been banging away at for years. It's a newspaper group. It's journalists are good at writing or taking still photographs. They're not (with some excpetiobs) broadcasters or VT operators. The skills are different, the needs are different and, for years, newspapers been failing utterly to make the most of what they already do by doing it better on the web.

There is nothing wrong with video journalism online per se. I'm sure the BBC's ultra-local services will be a hit when they happen because they'll be properly funded. I'm sure that newspaper groups, subject to getting their fingers out of their backsides and realising that this kind of thing needs investment and originl thinking, could produce a worthwhile alternative, an ITV, if you like, to the BBC's, well, BBC.

And, while Bradshaw is right to state that today's young are moving away from TV news, they ARE loving video sharing sites like Youtube (no, they're not paying me - yet). In some ways that's a better comparison with the short, snappy reports produced by an online news service rather than a TV company with a background in filling a half hour broadcast.

So, down the line, with real money behind it, the world of video journalism can be a success. But don't ruin one (already declining) product by attempting to shunt another, completely alien discipline into an already overstretched newsroom.

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