Monday, December 15, 2008

TV Marvels at Newspaper Video

TV is looking over its shoulder as the quality of newspaper-produced video is starting to gain on it, judging from this report: "Video Gives Print Media New Game: Newspapers Are Still Learning, But Recent Honors Prove They’re Getting the Hang of It."

It smartly points out the essential differences between videos produced by the respective media.

Some excerpts, which cite examples found on

Talk about respect. That’s what the Detroit Free Press got when it won the News and Documentary Emmy for “40 Years of ‘Respect,’” its video news feature on the history of Aretha Franklin’s iconic song and what it means to the people of Detroit.

The piece beat entries from PBS’ “Frontline” and Web sites for The New York Times and The Washington Post in the category of arts, lifestyle and culture.

The win was emblematic of newspapers’ recent emergence as awards contenders, competing on the same prestigious playing field where traditional broadcast news organizations have been competing for decades. Yet most newspapers have been using video on their Web sites for just the past few years.

“We start with the premise that we’re storytellers, with strong visuals and a compelling story to begin with,” said Nancy Andrews, managing editor for digital media at the Free Press . “We had to learn new skills, but we were also students of the craft.”

Like the Free Press, the Washington Post’s Web site is an awards heavyweight, garnering a multitude of national and local Emmy, Edward R. Murrow and Peabody Award wins and nominations in the past few years. But unlike the Detroit newspaper, whose multimedia team is integrated into the newsroom and varies according to editorial needs, the Post’s video output is generated by an online division separate and distinct from the traditional print newsroom.

“We really wanted to create a narrative voice for our video that was different than that on the broadcast nightly news,” said Tom Kennedy, the managing editor for multimedia at , who previously was the photo director of National Geographic .

The site prides itself on pieces that have more in common with independent filmmaking and documentaries than with traditional, reporter-driven broadcast journalism, pieces like its award-winning coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a look at the causes of childhood obesity, and “Being a Black Man,” a Peabody Award-winning series of videos produced by Ben de la Cruz in 2006.

“We aim for subject-driven narrative, with interactions and dialogue that propel the arc of the narrative and create the throughline of story, and have it told in a natural, fly-on-the-wall way,” Mr. Kennedy said.

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