Des Smith video and the News of the world

Audio has been on my, and others, mind for the last few days. Robert Freeman left me a comment pointing to a post about The News of the World video of Des Smith, “the Downing Street advisor dramatically cleared in the cash-for-honours scandal “

Des Smith video

On his blog, Robert doesn’t pull his punches –

The video was definitely shot by someone who’s had limited experience with a camera. The sound is poor, the framing’s off. It’s a good story, but it looses because of the poor quality. It looks amateur, and that’s not where the newspapers want to be.

I think that’s a bit harsh. The framing isn’t all that bad ( it looks like it’s shot a bit 14:3 safe), but I agree with him about the audio in the sense that it is technically poor and is less professional than it could be.

As I have pointed out a few times before, print journos working in TV are worried about looking unprofessional when they move to video. They look to TV as a benchmark and so it needs to reflect that perception of professionalism.

This is often more frustrating than anything else. Cheap equipment and a lack of training can get in the way of what is a professional bit of journalism in all but presentation.

I found two things most interesting about the video.

First was its transparency. The video shows Smith having two attempts at putting the boot in to those he saw as leaving him behind. The split (done with a dip to colour) is clearly a break where I can imagine the journo saying ‘the first take was good but we like the end bit about being left out to dry. Let’s do that again and beef it up a bit’.

Not that I think that’s underhand. It’s how TV works. Say it short and sweet or it don’t get broadcast.

The other was the presentation on the page. Text and video together. The story has an intro that finishes…

Headmaster and former education guru Smith — first to be collared in the scandal over drunken remarks he made to an undercover reporter — revealed how his ordeal:
• SPIRALLED him into nightmare drinking as he tried to blot out the pain and humiliation of his downfall
• FORCED his once-solid 28-year marriage to the brink of collapse and left him feeling
• BETRAYED by the party he once loved.

…with a video player right underneath.

Imagine that intro read by a particularly ravenous Fox news or ITV news reporter and you get the idea of what we are expecting.

Not my cup of tea as journalism but a neat set up and presentation for a national.

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