Newspaper Video: do’s and don’ts

After a quiet few weeks – video training and a trip to N.Ireland – I’m catching up on my reading.

A post from Paul Bradshaw caught my eye. He seems to have acquired the formidable skill of sniffing out ‘bad’ online video. His previous benchmark ,The Bolton News, has been usurped:

The bar has just been lowered by Reading Evening Post’s Sports Editor David Wright’s video bulletin, a painful lesson in how not to do online video:

I like bulletin style news clips. For me they work as much as a pointer for the internal audience as they do for the external. Done well they are a short, effective and easy way of getting regular video on your site. That’s a good message to send to your fellow journos, sceptical of new technology. You don’t need to spend hours to get this stuff to work.

I have a suspicion that if they had called it a Vlog it would have still been a shoddy bit of video but there are worse out there. As it is, there is no getting around the fact that it is indeed a very poor bit of video.

In constructive mode Paul outlines his tips for good video:

Rule #1: if you’re aiming to imitate broadcast television, make sure you’ve watched it since the ’80s.
Rule #2: if you use a cloth for a background, make sure you iron it.
Rule #3: tempted to use those fancy transition effects on your video editing software? Sleep on it. Please.
Rule #4: if you’re going to do ‘green screen’ make sure the green covers the whole background.
Rule #5: don’t start talking to your mate while the camera is still filming.
Rule #6: speak clearly, slow down.
Rule #7: film at a time or place when people are not coming in and out of a door and mumbling to each other out-of-shot
Rule #8: do more than one take.

Two more and they would be commandments. In fact just repeat Rule #1 twice more. It’s that important.

If you want to do video you need to watch TV. Not only to see how it is done but also how it isn’t done.

The web purists would have it that we should shun all things TV in search of the ‘new’ that is the web. But this stuff starts somewhere and we have to at least visit that birthplace even if we don’t want to stay.

When we train journalists we encourage them to embrace all forms of writing. Many a journalist treasures Hunter S Thompson, but do we write him off, on the strength that gonzo journalism has already been done or may not work in mainstream publishing?

Take the style, embrace it, understand it, change it develop it make it your own.

Elsewhere there is evidence that it isn’t just the use of video where newspapers ape TV.

In an excellent interview with Journalism.co.uk, Keith Harrison of the Wolverhampton Express and Star talks, amongst other things, about the use of video.

The story links to a video clip about a 34-year-old Vauxhall Victor with an acceleration of a formula one car. (Analogies with sticking the speedy web in to a clapped out banger like newspapers are optional here). A good use of video in the sense that the speed of the thing can only be really illustrated in real time – ie.video

What caught my attention though was not the video but the story that it linked from (minor gripe – the link to the story wasn’t very obvious). The last two pars read:

The car, known as Red Victor 2, used to put out around 1,500hp and was capable of hitting 60mph in 1.1 seconds.

Our video team have been to meet the father-of-three who runs Penn Autos in Springhill Lane, Wolverhampton

Say that through and then imagine someone saying ‘Run VT’ at the end of it. It reads like a TV cue.

Is this the right way to tee up video from a story? If it is, should the link be at the end? What do you think.