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Small-town shops using video

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Gator, Jan 9, 2012.

  1. Gator

    Gator Well-Known Member

    As the industry reaches further and further from actual newspapers, I'm wondering what people think about small-town shops using video on the website. I'm not that old, but I always figured TV stations do video, we do print. Period. I get that people want to see video, but with smaller productions (Patch and papers with tiny circulations), you tend to get a terrible product.

    Most of the time, game action stuff is horrible, with the wind blowing into the mic on a camera or action caught so far away that you can't really see anything. I'm not sure how much it really adds to the story you write. I can see it for big city council meetings, or something like that, but overall, with smaller staffs, I think it doesn't fully make sense.

  2. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    We tried it at a small paper where I spearheaded video. We tried short videos, audio, and newscasts. We would get 30 or so views for video. It was a waste of resources.
  3. JPsT

    JPsT Member

    I think it makes a ton of sense, especially for weeklies where a reporter might have some time to turn around a video. As Stitch notes, your audience also makes a lot of the difference as to whether or not it's worthwhile.

    You're right that people don't just want to click play on a video, they want to click play and watch something good.

    I've found, instead of leaving the omnidirectional mic on the camera audio, a quick voice over telling about the story, or perhaps even taking a different angle from the print piece like a sidebar, can really add a lot to the piece. You don't really need Final Cut or Avid or anything to do something like that.
  4. deskslave

    deskslave Active Member

    If small town TV stations can't do video properly, why do small town newspapers think they can?
  5. SFIND

    SFIND Well-Known Member

    Sure boss. Tell you what, after the game gets over 10:30, I wait for 30 minutes for the coach to get done yelling at the team to give me answers in the form of run-on sentences, I'll head back to the office at 11:30, write the story in an hour and layout the sports before deadline at 1:00. Then, I'll upload the story to our website with a picture, and then I'll load the photographers' pictures on there.

    Then at 2:00, I'll get started on the video. Maybe after editing through 30 minutes of footage, I'll whip up a damn voiceover for the package, and then upload the whole video to our server at the oustanding rate of 30 kbs per second!

    Then, I can finally go home at 5:00, sleep for three hours, and come in and get ready for another day of fun!

    Sorry for the rant, and it's not directed at you JPsT. It's more of frustration at being expected to produce emmy-winning material when I have the title of sports writer.

    I work at a small shop and I've been forced to do the video thing at football and basketball games. Overall I think it's stupid for small shops like the one I work at. It's damn near putting the video ahead of the published content in the newspaper, and it's a strain on resources. You can almost guarantee that making already overworked reporters do video reports along with normal duties will lead to A) a decline in the quality of stories or B) shitty video.

    I can do the video easy enough, and they reminded me plenty of times in college about "convergence" and that basically, I better get used to video. But at what point do newspapers stick to being newspapers and let the television stations handle the video?
  6. podunk press

    podunk press Active Member

    I'm torn on videos.

    We create them. Have for 5+ years now.

    The number of Web hits just isn't there to justify me slaving over them.
  7. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    I understand the rant, SFIND, and I think it's whether your paper (or anyplace) is willing to settle for quick and dirty video as opposed to the Emmy.

    I personally think (somewhat but not completely unscientifically) that video that SHOWS something might be worth it -- the game-winning play or whatever.

    But 2 minute 30 second "productions"? Not so much.
  8. Bamadog

    Bamadog Well-Known Member

    We do some videos at our shop, like a weekly prep football preview show that's gotten better and better. When we first started, we were in the 60-hit range. Toward the end of the season, we're up over 130 or so hits. Rome wasn't built in a day. But as far as doing video of games or putting together a highlight package short of B-roll for our preview? Not going to happen. Just tweeting updates while simultaneously keeping stats and taking notes drives me nuts as it is.

    We're going to make some tweaks next year, but I think we're moving in the right direction. As someone who had zero on-camera experience, it was unnerving to say the least. Pair me with two other writers who were in the same boat made for a rough start, but they've made a lot of progress in a medium that was unfamiliar to say the least.

    It can be a tool, like anything, that if you use correctly, it can be very effective. It really is what you put into it.

    As for news side, we've done a little better. Our presentation editor went aloft in an airplane and tapped some overhead footage of the Mississippi River flood. Our flood videos got thousands of hits.

    I'm a big believer in using all means to get out information. That includes Twitter and video. It's a brave new world and printing words of ink on dead trees alone isn't going to cut it anymore.
  9. derwood

    derwood Active Member

    Any shops doing weekly high school football podcasts? Cheaper alternative, easy to distribute to mobile devices.
  10. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Well-Known Member

    really dumb...a waste of resources for something poorly done simply because it is stretching newspaper writers too thin.
  11. sgreenwell

    sgreenwell Well-Known Member

    I'm at a Patch site, and the video stuff can be really frustrating. Frankly, it can be very hit-or-miss when you only have one camera for a sportscast - You can do all the positioning in the world, but sometimes, the play just doesn't come toward you. When it does hit though, the payoff can be good. One of the most popular sports stories on my site has a video - I was lucky, because I was on the correct baseline, and got all the relevant plays in 30 seconds, since a team down by three scored, got a steal and got a put-back as the buzzer expired.

    I've found the key to be deciding early at a game whether or not you're going to bother with the video. If the sound or lighting quality in the gym sucks, then don't bother doing it. If you routinely post crappy video, you alienate the audience and erode their confidence in your product. If they know you're only going to post video when you have something work watching, then you can build up a readership. (For this reason, I seldom promise or advertise that I'm doing video ahead of time, since if it doesn't come out for whatever reason, you can piss off some people.)
  12. TheHacker

    TheHacker Member

    We've tried several video efforts at my place, most of which I think are not worthwhile for some of the reasons mentioned in this thread. It takes time, resources and effort that are best used doing other things, especially considering how few hits the videos get.

    Our photo staff has done much of the work, and when they have time to do something properly, it looks great. But with fewer people comes less time to devote to that, so we've pulled back on it recently. We've done some postgame videos, where the photo staff shoots a little B-roll and we get some an interview on camera with the player of the game. We've also done player of the week videos, where we get the interview and some footage at a practice.

    I feel strongly that staffers on camera doing analysis/discussion is not effective for small papers that only cover prep sports. Grown men and women sitting and debating about games played by teenagers ... I just don't think that works. If you're going to spend the time and resources to do video, I think the subject of the video should be the people you cover, not your staff. Try as you might, you can't turn local high school stuff into ESPN-style talking head content. It just doesn't work. It just feels like overkill to me.
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