Thursday, June 17, 2010

What Is Your Newsroom's Video Vision?

As an advisor to Bill Gentile's Backpack Journalism Project (pictured) at American University's School of Communication, multimedia producer Colin Mulvany recently shared his perspective of the rise and fall and eventual resurrection of newspaper videojournalism -- how we got here, and where we're going.

In his expansive essay Video Journalism at Newspapers, Mulvany concludes:

For the last several years, newspaper video journalists have collectively held their breath. Mass layoffs, newsroom reorganizations and non-paid furloughs have left journalists still employed at newspapers on-edge. The good news is the worst may be over.
Mulvany has been in the vanguard of shepherding still photogs into the video fold. He's generously dedicated his time and energies to educating a generation of videojournalists, and has even co-created a community Website,, to help novitiates learn from their more seasoned confreres.

Having built a seminal multimedia department for the Spokane's Spokesman-Review, Mulvany's advisory capacity extends beyond tutoring in-the-field practitioners and to counseling editorial management.

"I occasionally get calls from video producers or editors struggling with how to successfully integrate video into their newsrooms," he reveals.

These are the blueprint questions I would ask anyone on a similar quest:

* Do you have an overall vision for video in your newsroom?

* Why are you doing video in the first place?

* Is quality video valuable to your viewers?

* Has video gained traction on your website over time? If not, figure out why.

* Has your paper invested in training that empowers your video producers to be able to tell and edit a story effectively?

* Do you have (need) a web-savvy management structure in place to filter out bad video ideas and is an advocate for video based storytelling?

* If you are producing lots of video, do you have a website that showcases this valued web-only content?

* Can viewers find your videos quickly if they land on a story page and not on the home page?

* Can lower levels of video quality be acceptable if they meet a high news value bar?

* Do your videos load fast, have good, clean compression, and have full screen ability?

* Are you using social media to promote your video content?

* If you’re a small paper with dwindling resources, should you really be adding poorly produced video to your already bleak shovelware website?
For all the bleak economic realities he's encountered -- including layoffs and reductions of the troops he's personally trained -- Mulvany remains hopeful.

I still believe video journalism can generate revenue opportunities for newspapers, especially as the economy rebounds. The Internet is growing increasingly visual. Video, in many ways, is becoming the language of the Internet. Online viewers have steadily embraced video, so it’s imperative for newspapers to be there with compelling, well-edited video content for them to consume. But if video journalism, or backpack journalism, is to grow and succeed at newspapers, it will need a lot more nurturing and support from newsroom management than it is getting now.
Amen to that.


Backpack Journalism Project

Colin Mulvany's Mastering Multimedia blog

Finding the Frame Website

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