Newspaper video: Who cares what it is. Why are we doing it?

There have been a lot of posts flying around this week about the good and bad of online video.

The New York magazine has been getting a lot of eyeball for its piece on video at newspapers, daring to dream that:

In a sudden reversal of fortune, newspapers have taken to online video and might just beat TV news at its own game.

I suppose we can forgive the desperately narrow view it takes of the whole landscape given its target audience. But none the less it seems to reflect a more bullish mood for the newspaper video fan base.

But many people feel that beating TV at their own game is not where online video should be

Paul Bradshaw is increasingly despairing of his old paper’s efforts at producing video. To him it’s a poor rip-off of a TV bulletin

I’m getting close to the point of making my own online news video service. It will consist of me sitting in front of a camera reading out the day’s headlines, then holding the paper up to the lens. Really, I could steal their viewers in an instant. And I would do the weather as a separate video because, frankly, if someone is looking for the local weather forecast online they’re not going to sit through five minutes of headlines to get it.

I commented on his post that I though that he was being a bit harsh. Give them time and let them find their feet. But to be fair to Paul, the quality wasn’t the main issue. For him, they just aren’t using it right

If you’re going to do online video, integrate it with the rest of your journalism. Television presenters are for TV; newspaper layouts are for print; stock images are for brochures. Send your journalist out with a video camera or don’t bother at all.

A similar view prompted Adrian Moncks to formulate his maxims which in turn prompted David Dunkley Gyimah to comment on the seeming obsession with TV style:

We’re bound by a format, which has been refined, distilled, decanted for a TV medium, which has matured to perfection. That’s the existing paradigm anyway.

But what happens when a new medium comes along? Well, nothing much really. We’re gripped by the dominant action – smart mobs – to do much of the same.

And the end of the comment

So we’ll stick broadly with the norm, while innovations gather pace on the edges. Perhaps it’s a question of time.

He’s right. It is a question of time. We will get it eventually because despite the subjective likes and dislikes, can anyone say with any certainty What newspaper video is ? What is right or wrong?

Ryan Sholin asks similar questions in his response to the NY magazine piece.

Are we doing it right?
Would we be able to tell if we were?
Does it matter?

Ryan titles his post How quickly can newspaper video grow up?, which made think that perhaps there is more than a touch of the disappointed parent in our criticism of some papers efforts*, I know I may have been.

Right now our newspaper video kid is beating TV at its own game (some proud parents shouting from the touchline at that one). But it will grow out of that and we will have learned something on the way. Because at the same time we are also learning how to nurture and support this thing, developing the industries understanding of what it is. And that means its going to get better and better.

Let’s give junior some space. (and I’m not changing it)

*Are we surprised, considering the number of parents prepared to share their views of how this kid should be brought up

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