Newspaper video: Is your paper is more important?

James Shaw from the Shropshire Star left a comment on my 2008 predictions post. James thought I was being a bit gloomy and left a few examples of what they have been doing. I thought it was worth shareing outside of the comments.

According to James, you can have a video strategy but…

Firstly, never think you’ll be more important than the main newspaper, or come first. If you do, you will upset a lot of people and it will not happen anyway.

Also, take a look at what is around you and start you strategy by complimenting the newspaper’s output, not competing against it. You may win some battles in the long term, but it is a long war which you will eventually lose.

This is not negativity, or lack of ambition – just a set of hard-nosed facts.

Here at the Star, we’re doing football highlights from AFC Telford (no TV deal there) which exposes us to at least 1,800 fans each week, fans’ reactions from Shrewsbury Town (thus skirting round the TV deal) which exposes us to at least 4,000 fans each week and highlights from Telford Tigers ice hockey (not as many hits as we would like, but that is not the point – it keeps our name in the local community).

The AFC Telford and Telford Tigers footage is uploaded at a time which does not compete with the main newspaper, while the Shrewsbury Town fans’ videos simply compliment our main editions.

Bearing in mind that these three ’strands’ give us a decent amount of exposure on their own, we can then cover news with a little less pressure on grabbing hits – and in theory, the news videos are given a little more attention.

I like the attitude of ‘not as many hits as we would like, but that is not the point – it keeps our name in the local community’. As long as you can find the most time and resource effective way of doing it, I think that’s should be a driving factor in a video strategy. I would go a step further and say in ‘those’ communities.  The Telford Tigers community. The Shrewsbury Town community.

Keeping them sweet keeps you in the middle of it all.

I read James’ comment as supporting a type of video that can be produced outside the publishing cycel of the newspaper – it doesn’t compete in the sense that the newsroom isn’t losing staff to video when the newsppaer needs to go to bed. I think that’s sensible. We all know that most video and multimedia isn’t going to fit a daily newsaper schedule.

But it’s hard to get buy in to this – perhaps subtle – approach in a culture of newspaper first, above all else.  As James says, a web first approach “will upset a lot of people and it will not happen”. But this binary style of thinking has to go. It isnt just one or the other.

The thing is that if you give in to that idea, if you develop to appease then ‘a lot of people’  are driving your strategy and they shouldn’t be.

It’s not a critisicm of James’ view. A strategy is whatever works for you and your audience and I know his views are based on making it work. But I don’t see how the newspaper is more important. I don’t think it’s any less important. They are different but complimentary. James knows it.  But ‘a lot of people’ need to wake up to that. Now.

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