A Gannett strategy on newspaper video inflames the debate

A beet.tv interview with Gannett Digital executive Kate Walters, in which she announced a “significant investment in video” at the company’s 80-plus newspapers, has sparked a bonfire of scorn among photographers, videographers and Gannett employees, past and present.

Walters said the company will train and equip “all reporters” to add video to their stories, use third-party suppliers to provide video in places and on topics where staff are unavailable, and feature user-generated video prominently on all sites.

What really steamed many commenters was Walter’s wide-eyed promise of a “culture shift” for all reporters, getting them to think about stories visually as well as textually. Continue reading

Newspapers and web video, part 3: Choosing the stories that need video

Over the past week, I’ve been reading what newspaper photographers and videographers have to say on the touchy topic of how their sites use web video.

Seems to me there’s a consensus that less IS more, which is exactly my point.

G.J. McCarthy, a photographer at the Dallas Morning News, posted this comment on sportsshooters.com’s message board: Continue reading

Further thoughts on newspaper video

It’s been fascinating to follow the debate that sprang up in response to my Sept. 23 post, “Newspapers should jettison (most of) their web video efforts.” Thanks to all who responded. You have given me much to ponder.

In the original post, I called for local and regional papers to be more selective in deploying their resources in today’s financially straitened times, not to abandon video altogether (emphasis added; not everybody read me correctly). While some categories of video draw visitors to newspaper sites, not every story needs multimedia, and much of what’s produced on newspaper sites goes to waste. Newspapers, I wrote, should play to their strengths.

As evidence, I cited a report from the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University, which suggested earlier this year that fewer than 10 percent of unique visitors to newspaper and local-TV websites watch video streams. Anecdotally, I’ve found this to be true not just among middle-aged people like me but also among the undergraduates I teach.

Several commenters blamed these results the feckless way too many newspaper managers approach multimedia. Giving a reporter, or even a still photographer, a video camera doesn’t make that person a video journalist, any more than handing a photographer a notepad makes that person a writer. Training matters. Some newspapers have provided the necessary education, but many editors panicked once they decided to increase the multimedia on their sites. They shoved video cameras into the hands of nearly everyone on their staffs and demanded that they start shooting.

As Rebecca Gerendasy, a veteran video journalist from San Francisco, commented: Continue reading

Block by Block 2011: Veteran journalists are succeeding with independent, online community news sites

A wonderful thing about the Block by Block Summit 2011 was seeing that many of the nation’s most successful independent, online, community publishers are veteran journalists in their 40s, 50s and 60s—my cohort, broadly. Go, team! More important, these are the journalists whose jobs have been most vulnerable in the legacy-media crisis of the past 10 years.

These journalists watched their newspapers close, or took buyouts during staffing cutbacks, or got laid off, and found themselves adrift. They had honed their reporting and writing skills over decades, built broad, deep source lists, developed mature judgment and possessed a still-burning desire to tell stories and reveal truths. But the institutions that had employed them since the 1970s and ’80s were shrinking. The business models that had supported those institutions no longer worked, and because of the disruption wrought by the Internet, they seemed unlikely to return to robustness.

These veterans wanted and needed to keep working. And they were deeply perturbed that changes in legacy media—news organizations that existed before the birth of the Internet—left many communities without the kind of news coverage that informed citizens need in a democracy.

And so the hyperlocal movement was born.

Now, a few years into their online ventures, after endless months of 24/7 dedication to building their sites journalistically and financially, they are making enough money to cover their personal expenses (mortgage or rent, health insurance, food, car, etc.) and even to pay themselves a small salary. They have embraced the fact that they are running businesses; that’s why they went to Block by Block, to figure out the next steps toward greater profitability. And they’re eager to share their knowledge, as Howard Owens of The Batavian, which covers the countryside between Rochester, N.Y., and Buffalo, wrote in a post on his personal blog titled “How to launch your own local news site in 10 (not so easy) steps.”

Ben Ilfeld of Sacramento Press

Ben Ilfeld of Sacramento Press introduces himself at the opening of the Block by Block 2011 Summit in Chicago. (Photo by Howard Owens)


Continue reading

Newspapers should jettison (most of) their web video efforts

Newspapers should take a hard look at* their largely feeble attempts to draw readers with web video. It’s a misuse of their shrunken resources. It’s not working. Though visits to newspaper websites keep growing, a small minority of visitors watches videos there.

*(Update, Oct. 14, 2011: My original post read: Newspapers should give up their largely feeble attempts to draw readers with web video. As the responses to this post flowed in, I realized I’d overstated my views in the lede. The title of the post [should jettison most of their web video efforts] better reflects my intent, and later posts on this topic [Oct. 8 and Oct. 14] further clarify my thinking as it evolved through the dialogue my original post engendered. Thanks to all who contributed to the discussion.) Continue reading


Part II of All On Paper. Very funny, and the students’ comments are priceless.

I had forgotten all about the number 1 key.

HOW TO BUILD A NEWSROOM TIME MACHINE Want to freak out a newsroom full of college journalists? Sit them down at manual typewriters and ask them to plunk "2011" onto a piece of paper. They'll only make it halfway. "Mine's broken!" one reporter at Florida Atlantic University yelled a couple of Saturdays ago, when we launched the inaugural ALL ON PAPER project. "There's no number 1 key." "This one is busted, too!" yelled another. "They're not broken," I replied. "Manual typewriters did … Read More

via journoterrorist

HOW TO HAVE A PAPER BALL (via journoterrorist)

Greatest teaching idea ever.

HOW TO HAVE A PAPER BALL What happens when you force college journalists to publish a newspaper with no computers? Well, first they freak out. Then they get their hands dirty. They write stories on manual typewriters and copyedit them in pencil. They shoot with film cameras and process the prints in a makeshift darkroom. They lay it all out with pica poles and proportion wheels. They paste it all up with X-Acto knives and rubber cement. And they love it. At least, that's … Read More

via journoterrorist

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