This week, KobreGuide.com, which launched in Fall 2008, features its 400th video story.
Yeah, we're pretty amazed ourselves. (It seems like only yesterday that we posted our 300th story!) And every day provides more amazement as we watch and assess the merits of the highest quality online videojournalism being produced today.
We see signs everywhere that, despite the shabby economic state of the journalism industry, the medium of video is becoming more central to its mission. As the audience appetite grows for well-told, well-reported visual stories, the savviest producers and publishers are responding in kind.
But that river flows both ways. It's incumbent upon industry leaders to create and present compelling video stories that will entice viewers and whet their appetite for more.
To be honest, most videojournalism storytelling we see -- and we see a heck of a lot of it -- falls short in at least one of three key areas. It's either poorly shot and edited video, or it's substandard journalism, or it lacks narrative storytelling qualities that hook and engage viewers.
It's no wonder when newspapers distribute cheap Flip cams to print reporters and, expecting miracles, wind up instead with a mess. And even though still photographers have a visual sensibility, and may therefore seem more suited to the task of shooting video, there's still a world of difference between taking pictures and weaving a story with scenes and sequences. Plus, most photographers' experience with interviewing subjects begins and ends with grabbing caption info -- not asking hard-hitting questions, or even knowing who to track down for a balancing perspective.
In short, print reporters, writers, editors and photographers all bring valuable skill sets to the table, but they need to be trained and mentored by (and ideally partnered with) talented and experienced video professionals who excel in that medium.
Not to harangue, but imagine our perpetual disappointment at video stories that are promising in many ways, but ultimately missing key ingredients. They're not quite KobreGuide quality, but would have been a slam dunk had there been a real pro aboard to push them to the next level.
And that's what we recommend and foresee for 2010 -- print publications redoubling their efforts in the online video arena. More people are watching moving images than at any time in history, and, YouTube anomalies aside, professional quality will win the day. Follow the eyeballs, and the money will come.
As another year winds down, and we head into the holiday season, we want to thank the media outlets whose videos are showcased on KobreGuide for their generous cooperation and commitment to the cause, and wish them continued success in 2010.
And we want to thank you for your support, encouragement and feedback. It's your eyeballs, after all, that we aim to please! So it's especially gratifying to watch our month-to-month traffic grow steadily. Come along for the ride as we enter a new decade; we promise it won't be boring.
Meanwhile, you can review the best of KobreGuide's first 400 stories by checking out our Top 10 selections. And be sure to visit our Hall of Fame, where all the best KobreGuide stories are archived. Let us know what you think.
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