Hottest media platform of the hour? Video. Online video. The recent launch of Google Video, major sales of TV episodes on iTunes, and growing popularity of sites like YouTube.com suggest that video streaming technology is finally good enough to make video content on the Internet worth our time. Short and often high-quality videos (which will inevitably grow in length) can be found on just about any topic – obscurity is not a factor. The New York Times coined this phenomenon as “slivercasting.”
But traditional media companies have noticed the trend, too, and are making attempts to keep up. A number of newspapers around the country have recently announced plans to incorporate more video content into their offerings:
- The Naples Daily News and Bonita Springs Daily News in Florida are teaming up with Comcast to produce “Studio 55,” a news “vodcast” program covering local news, which will be broadcast both online and on cable starting in April.
- The Denver Post announced its plans last week to offer streaming video clips on its recently launched Spanish website, Al Dia. Serving a population that is 35% Hispanic, The Post states that it is the first newspaper in the U.S. to provide Spanish-language video content.
- Beginning on April 30, the Dallas Morning News will distribute the monthly Hollywood Previews Entertainment iMagazine, an interactive CD-ROM featuring an array of entertainment and lifestyle segments.
While these newspapers are proving themselves to be more ambitious than many of their competitors, the media industry as a whole has recognized the growing importance of video journalism. Last fall, the Press Association of the U.K. began running a training program for British newspaper journalists on the basics of video reporting. This “videojournalism bootcamp,” run by David Dunkley Gyimah, who teaches Digital Journalism at the University of Westminster, instructs print journalists on the art of “visual storytelling” in an intensive two-week training session. Editors’ Weblog has an interview with Gyimah and Paul Hartley, Associate Editor of the Hull Daily Mail, one of the British papers enthusiastically encouraging its reporters to sign up.
On March 1, the Associated Press announced the launch of the AP Online Video Network (APOVN), which “draws on the global newsgathering resources” of the AP to produce video capsules of the top news stories around the world.
So what’s in it for the news business? Well, first of all, it’s pretty clear that as more people move online, expectations for multimedia presentations of the news are growing. Readers are responding to new opportunities to interact with traditional news content in non-traditional ways (such as photo galleries, podcasting, message boards, etc.). If these media organizations want to appeal to their readers, they need to adapt to these raised expectations and provide their audience with high-quality content in every medium.
Professional journalists are learning to use video to report stories in a new way, which is good news, but what about the amateurs? The popularity of sites like YouTube, which consists of user-submitted and user-generated video clips, indicates that people are eager to participate in content creation. If newspapers and magazines can leverage this enthusiasm and get citizen reporters to contribute their video content, in addition to first-hand reporting and on-the-scene photography, I think they’ll find some really good content that has the potential to enrich their offerings substantially.
Coming soon: Video: The Re-Rising Star (Part Two). I’ll be spotlighting a handful of new Internet video projects being undertaken by some of the major television networks.