Monday, August 9, 2010

How About Investing in Videojournalism?

"After a protracted drought," the New York Times reports, "money is trickling back into the professional Web video industry."


The promise of Web video has risen and fallen over the last few years. What makes the current round of interest more compelling is the realization in the industry that Web video will not supplant television viewing anytime soon, just complement it. That partly explains why the companies have stopped labeling themselves “TV on the Internet.” ...

"We realized we were putting a burden on Web-original programming by trying to make it like TV,” said Lance Podell, the Next New Networks chief executive, who now calls his company a provider of “Web original programming.”

The Web video industry flies under the radar, but together, the major players rack up hundreds of millions of video views each month. As people spend more time online, producers are betting that video viewing times will keep growing in tandem...

Reaffirming its belief in made-for-the-Web programming, YouTube last month announced $5 million in grants for online producers...

Despite the evidence that viewers are eager to watch more on the Web, the recession was an ugly reality check for purveyors of such programming, and many start-ups were closed...

Web video companies say that advertisers are starting to make million-dollar commitments — hardly a threat to established television networks, but a big improvement for sites that started out making $5,000 at a time.

OK, here's the fly in the ointment. All this refers to entertainment video. All those online ersatz TV-but-not-quite-TV shows. Mini-soap operas. Goofy comedies. Game shows. Music videos.

Now, how about videojournalism?

Isn't it about time that major news organizations took a cue from their entertainment counterparts and started recognizing the power and potential profits in online video stories?

Read that New York Times story again, and be aware that all the facts and figures apply to the time and energy that audiences can and will spend watching non-fiction featurettes. True-life reality mini-documentaries. Not the home-movie video slop that's currently polluting most newspaper websites, but high-quality visual stories that are professionally told.

Imagine if time, talent and appropriate resources were wisely invested in creating online versions of TV newsmagazine segments -- minus the unnecessary slickness.

Remember -- "60 Minutes" has run longer, drawn a bigger audience, and made more profit for CBS than any of its sitcoms.

So where are the networks and investors for videojournalism?


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