Video has to be in the DNA of newspaper newsrooms

There is compelling evidence that newspapers have a great opportunity in  video. If you’re a newspaper a newsroom header, don’t let shrinking newsrooms, the demands of multiple platforms, anemic advertising, or training or workflow issues deter you.

Those are the challenges, not the indicators of whether it’s working.

This piece is part of the September Carnival of Journalism, or JCARN as it’s become known, on online video.

I believe the opportunity for newspapers and video is greater than that of local television and video. For TV stations, video is repurposed broadcast content; newspapers are doing original web video news without the traditions and legacy issues of television.

A Link News study of 16 to 25 year olds found 69 percent consumed news almost every day, 29 percent several times during a day.

They’re an always on, “continuous partial attention,” generation, snatching news like snacks between classes or activities.

Their top news sources: Video websites like YouTube (85 percent) followed by the website of a national or local newspaper (77 percent).

I smell opportunity. Yes, the Link News study could be skewed toward young news junkies, but still, these are heartening signs.

Least popular news sources were blog sites and individual journalists (ouch!).

What information sources do they trust? National newspapers like the New York Times (60 percent); newspaper websites (local or national) 59 percent; and international brands like the BBC, 56 percent.

Again, a heartening confluence of trends.

Video was used by 90 percent of the respondents in the survey.

From the Link News white paper:

“Focus group discussions revealed that video was considered an important feature when it wasn’t overly produced and contained rough or unpolished footage. ‘Seeing for yourself’ through amateur video or roughly produced footage without voiceover allows the natural context to emerge and is perceived as an important direct lens on news for youth.”

These media savvy youth also want more than video. They want to the multiplatform experience newspapers have been developing skills and expertise around. Newspaper sites have lots of words, lots of great photography and a growing amount of video. These seem to be critical advantages in attracting this young audience of news consumers.

“Video alone is not sufficient to hold the interest of young news consumers. They prefer having the option to watch video, read news articles or other text, and scroll through photographs and other imagery. Audio podcasts were less enthusiastically supported in our research. Finding the right mix of media formats is an area that should be explored more closely inc user testing,” the study said.

While long form video has been growing, short form video still rules with about 74 percent of the clips watched, according to a Yahoo! survey. Some 85 percent of that video viewing still happens on a personal computer.

In its research, Yahoo! has found that users were most likely to have viewed a video next to a story. “In fact,” Yahoo! researchers said, “69% of news content and 57% of sports video, and 43% of technology is usually found next to an article.”

The Yahoo! research was presented to Yahoo! Consortium representatives during a monthly content call in June.

News and sports are the most watched genres of Yahoo! video clips while among all sites humor and music videos also rank highly.

The money finding: Consumers show greater engagement to professionally polished videos attached to “mixed media” like articles.Yahool call this “video+.” This is how newspaper websites typically display video.

For most newspaper video, discoverability is also a key factor. Their sites are typically story-centric, meaning text. Newspaper sites need to get better at surfacing video — and photos, too.

For most consumers, online video viewing, particularly of short clips, is something they happen upon instead of a scheduled event or a place they go to see a particular video.

New platforms like the various tablets bring an additional opportunities to break out of the headline/story model for news.

It also makes sense to fish where the fish area. That means hosting video content on YouTube. And YouTube video is the most easily shared video player, making it a key to a video social media strategy involving Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and the rest.

To be successful will require a commitment by newsroom managers to push for better technology to make it easier, quicker, more efficient and more professional.

To be successful will require spending time and money on training.

To be successful will require editors that demand multimedia story telling.

The only way video does not have a place in your strategic plans is if those plans are to only get what you can from the printed paper for as long as you can and then head for the exits.

That’s why I say video has to be in a newspaper newsroom’s DNA; it’s about the future of those newsrooms.

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