Faced with declining readership and a worsening economy, many newspapers are grappling with whether to stop the presses. Denver’s Rocky Mountain News recently closed its doors, while the Seattle Post-Intelligencer is moving to an online-only format.
How does this affect you? Do you read the newspaper every morning over coffee, or do you catch up on the news online? Is your local newspaper still around?
Put your thoughts about the newspaper industry on video and share your daily news routine. Your stories could be featured on CNN.
The views sum up the general debate. Here are a few that have made it on CNN
It’s taken a while because there have been a huge number of tricky little issues to sort out and most of these have been complex business issues around rights, terms and conditions, etc… But at last through the fog, a simple and subtle change finally emerges.
It’s a nice implementation as well – clean and simple.
A nice implementation of embed code on the BBC player
The feature has been launched on the Technology section of the site, which is a smart move in itself. Of course the next step is to see how the rest of the industry reacts to this.
What’s the betting on a negative reaction?
Thanks to @jowadsworth and @Zee for the tweet that pointed to this.
I’m getting back to my roots this week with lots of video stuff including my Newspaper video survey. So it was nice to get an email from James Cuff at the South Wales Echo who gave me the heads up for a video he produced as a promo for their re-design:
Newspaper produced video is at a crossroads. As many U.S. publications turn inward to focus on their traditional print products, many online producers are wondering if they should continue to invest the extra time it takes to shoot and edit video. It’s such a crazy time to be a visual journalist. Newspaper photo staffs are being slashed and devalued, as publishers try to protect what’s left of their bottom lines.
If anyone is qualified to ask if video will survive it’s Colin. But I’m interested to find out whether video is still on the agenda and how it’s being done.
I’ve asked this question before when I conducted a survey of the who, what and how of video in 2007. The results of that little survey are still up and, according to my stats, get a regular look. So I thought I would try the survey again and see how things have changed.
So if you are involved with producing video for the web, I’d really appreciate you taking the time to complete the survey. It’s short and easy so won’t take too much time and I’ll share the results as I did last time.
I’m holed up in the Middlesbrough Central Travelodge and getting some kind of insight in to what living in halls must be like. To say the room is basic is,well, to give it more credit then it deserves. But hey, at least I have great stuff like this to look at.
Oooh look a mic on a stills cam
From a practical stand point it would be a bit like constantly shooting as if you are behind Tina Turners head. But I bet you never thought you’d see the day that a still’s camera had a mic on it.
Allowing videographers to stage scenes, situations and/or actions is NOT journalism. We are here to document what we see, not recreate what we missed. If you missed the poignant kiss, that is your fault. How is it that journalism ethics can vary so greatly from print to broadcast?
I agree. It isn’t journalism. But I would go one step further. It has nothing to do with journalism. It has everything to do with the form, but nothing to do with journalism.
Or it could be about that tired old argument trying to define the difference in the way ‘ethical’ videographers work compared to the “TV personality and videographer” who “bombard the scene and tell the subject what they want them to say”. But we got past that TV is bad thing a while back didn’t we?
The journalism is in telling the story not the skill of being around long enough for the story to drift past your lens.
The ‘no retakes’ ethical position must also, logically, require that you would never edit, that you never use lights and you never ask any questions. You may as well set up a hide and stalk your contributors like a wildlife documentary maker.
Every time a shot is framed or a cut made their is an editorial hand at play. In any time based media you cannot claim the purity of the scene when you play with the relationship of the scenes with each other over time. When you cut out camera movements or slip wildtrack over an edit, in my view, you have broken the same ethical code. Shoot a cut-away and edit that in… you get the idea.
What we have always focused on is the meaning and in that sense there is no difference here between print and online. We play with copy, editing quotes or using reported speech to tell the story. Asking someone to walk through a door again because we missed the shot is no different.
Of course we use lights, we pick lenses, we edit to tell the story. We ask questions and guide. That’s what the form requires.
That we always present a fair, accurate and balanced view of the story is what journalism demands.
The third of my recent new year convictions was Point-and-shoot, mojo video is the predominant form for newspaper video but organisations will still need to develop a quality video strategy
Not sure what point-and shoot is here’s my not so serious definition
Looking back over the year I’ve realised that I haven’t blogged about video very much. Given that I started the year predicting newspaper video would die in 2008, you would be forgiven for thinking that I believe that had come true and there was nothing to write about.
The truth is that video is stronger than ever just not in newspapers. It’s fallen off the agenda and I think that’s for a number of reasons:
The development of social media and community strategies
The development of social media has stolen videos star. Where video was once the defining mode of a forward thinking digital newspaper, now it’s social media and community. Investing in facebook apps, twitter, linked in forums etc is seen as an investment closer to the core business of a newspaper – linking with communities.
This focus on the dialogue is interesting for me. On the one hand I think it’s massively positive and, looking back over the year, that’s something that’s engaged me a lot. But I’m wary that some organisations have replaced one apparently effective technology with another. Just because you are doing it, doesn’t mean you are using it.
The Immediacy of twitter
I’m using twitter as an example here of the return to the concept of immediacy in newsrooms. The take-up of cover it live, for example, shows how the idea of first is still an important factor. Video, especially the quality approach just doesn’t fit that style any more.
The development of content management systems
I’ve spent a good deal of time (and you, bless you, have read a good deal of the drivel I’ve written) moaning about the way that video was effectively channeled by content management systems. We where always going to get video that was ‘too much like TV’ because it was in its own little part of the website, with no context, so it had to be packaged and TV like.
Add a map showing the loacation of the crash and you have a near perfect example of mojo journalism
The economic downturn
Video is time consuming and expensive. It takes a lot of people to do it (even badly) and in this climate some types of video are not cost effective anymore.
Fit for purpose
Put all those things together and the only viable strategy for getting video in your newsroom now is point-and-shoot. It’s responsive, cheap and easy to implement and the kind of video produced – short clip content, illustrative video and vignettes of action – is best suited to the embedded style we see on news sites.
That doesn’t mean I’m ditching the idea that a quality video strategy has lost. It isn’t a betamax Vs. VHS type thing. Those that invested in the training and development of that strategy will always get good results from it. Those who just bought lots of kit and left the newsroom to it will have already put the camera in a cupboard.
I said much the same thing in my predictions last year and I still believe it.
It will not be long before video finds itself back in the commercial sector. Video ads, advertorial content, wedding vids, video house guides, video production, whatever you like, would be fair game for an ad department looking to expand it’s repertoire. The investment in the distribution technology has been made. What the ad departments need to do is start behaving like broadcast ad sales.
Newspapers as commercial broadcasters
Here in the UK I think we will see some very interesting changes to the broadcasting landscape after a general election (maybe sooner if the credit crunch really bites) with local media really starting to define itself as something more than the weak, territorial battleground it is at the moment. A commercial production capacity will be a head-start in building the capacity to commercially exploit that.
A point-and-shoot strategy won’t help develop that. The skills will be geared more to the newsroom not to the more structured video that a commercial strategy will need. One will suit the newsroom, the other the commercial imperitive. A division that will warm the hearts of many a journalist who’s been asked to knock out a quick video of the local furniture shop.
So have I finnaly come down on the side of p&s? No. I was never for or against either strategy. But the truth is we now have a convention. A way of making and using video on non-broadcast news websites and I’d be a fool to advocate doing anything different.
But to lose the capacity to “high-quality” video is, I think a mistake. How orgs make it fit will be the best indicator of how they are approaching the next year or so. If you do video and you have no quality stratgey then you are not thinking about the future. All you have done is adopted the P&S strategy because it’s cheap and that’s no strategy at all.
In my own life I’ve seen it a thousand times, where there was the old rock’n'roll establishment beating up the punks, which I was part of, or it was the Aid establishment beating up Band Aid and Live Aid. But the reality is that there was room for the Rolling Stones and the Clash; there was room for Save the Children and Live Aid and so too there’s room for Kent Messenger and Kent TV and they sort of supply completely different services; I get my daily paper every day, but I’m also online every day
So says Bob Geldof. One of the founders of uberindie TenAlps and the company running Kent TV, Kent County Councils broadband TV service. But he wasn’t just plucking the Kent Messenger out of the air.
Of course of course Bob is bullish about the reasons for the Kent Messengers dislike of the project. In his exclusive interview with Kent TV(who else):
This spurious beating up of Kent TV, on the notion that it’s political is rubbish. It’s a commercial attack. So, do it honourably and compete with us. We’ll win because we’re better, and regardless of who initiated this in Kent, they showed foresight. so competing on the commercial level, I love it, I love the challenge and if we lose, we lose ‘cos we’re not good enough, but competing, playing footsie with your political pals, ah that’s naff and it’s not what business should do.
But KMG are not the only ones up in arms. The Press Gazette reports similar worries for ITV Local director of programming and content Lindsay Charlto
“When council taxpayers wake up to the fact that half a million pounds is being spent on a television service on their behalf, they may have something to say about it,” he said.
“If you replicated that across the country I think there would be a public outcry.
“My own view is they shouldn’t be building television networks with public money.”
Outcry at public money being spent on a public service? Really. Well, I suppose it depends on whether you take the public service view or the commercial view.
In a way, this issue is a mirror of opposition to BBC Local video plans. Is it logical that a local authority launches a web video news operation? Yes – in these days of local news cutbacks, every local government should want to guarantee a line of communication with voters. The side-effect – that much-loved spectacle of competition between the council and its local newspaper.
I think the Kent Messenger are right to question where public money is being spent – -that’s the job of a journalist after all. But when Geraldine Allinson suggests that “Some would argue that is a very unlevel playing field.” You have to have some sympathy with Geldof.
For me the real problem here, and where I think it differs from the BBC question, is that the regional media cannot compete here. It really is a catch 22.
They can’t get on board with the council as that will simply leave both open to accusations of bias. But they cannot compete with a product backed by that much money because they have no infrastructure to do it.
Rather than throw stones, it may be better to question the process but let it develop (and perhaps fail) on its own. In the mean time they should concentrate on sharpening and matureing that questioning voice in a multiplatform environment. Maybe then they would have something to compete with.
The disposable medium - Picture by Pete Ashton via Flickr
I was on the train back from London last week and found myself sat behind a guy with a huge pile of newspapers. For the duration of the trip from London to Manchester he systematically went through the papers tearing out article and leaving a shredded mess behind him when he got off. By a quick reckoning he had left behind about 6 pounds worth of newspaper.
I was pondering this as I read a nice post over at Jo Geary’s blog where she ponders the ‘value’ of print. In, what she calls, Quick, incoherent thought #4: the power of print (I like the number thing, makes it sound like a series of artworks)she questions the value of print in world where digital is cheaper. Does digital mean that people value print less?
Well, the people who queued outside The Washington Post for their special edition on Obama’s victory would tell you there was a value to print and it has been argued that this is proof that newspaper is still the format of choice for important events. “People didn’t print out the news on their computers”, goes the argument.
In fact Jo argues that in some cases the content is so valuable that it could go in a hard back book.
I have some sympathy with that view (despite my link bait title), the transient nature of the web is often its least appealing characteristics. But I think there is one key factor that makes newspapers, rather than books, a valuable platform and one that should thrive and it isn’t the keepsake value.
Would you bin a kindle?
For me the man on the train proved to me that the compelling feature of newspaper as a medium is that we are prepared to throw it away. Bin it, shred it, leave it on the bus. Whatever we do we are happy to spend money on it and then leave it.
That’s why I think Jo’s book idea is a good one. But it’s also why I think that the newspaper industry excitement (or maybe that should be panic driven hope) for the development of e-readers and digital paper is so, so wrong. I have actually heard newspaper managers talk about how things will be ‘all right’ once digital ink is sorted.
Would you buy this and bin it?
Allowing people to download the daily newspaper to an e-reader or flexible screen may feel like it gives the industry back some of the monopoly on the distribution platform it thinks it needs to survive. But in reality it flies in the face of the way we consume and discard our daily news fix.
Maybe that’s just me. But I’m sure the man on the train would rather have his pile of paper.