Top tips for tabloid style newspaper video

A week ago I looked at the Broadsheet newspapers here in the UK and used my observations to come up with eleven tips for newspaper. Last week I turned my attention to the UK’s national tabloids to see what they where up to and see if they could add anything to that list.

The short answer is no because, the truth is they are very different animals.But if you want to re-create the tabloid experience then here are my top tips.

  1. Shovelware your news video
  2. Never link to an article
  3. Choose video based on entertainment value rather than news value
  4. Mark everything supplied by a third party as an exclusive

Here’s some more depth.

Shovelware your newsvideo
It’s clear that producing ‘news’ video is not a priority for most of the tabloids. They simply buy in the PA/Reuters/AFP/Sky feed options on their players and box that as the news.  Any video that may even have a passing relation to a news story is either CCTV, news agency or ripped off from TV and always illustrative. That’s because your editorial imperitive is not news but viral. So…

Chose video based on entertainment value rather than news value
The editorial driver for video is the fact that someone in your audience will go ‘cool’ or ‘urrggg’. If you would email it to somone saying ‘omg you have to see this’ then put it on the site. Think viral first.  The video itself is your content.

Never link to an article
If you are a tabloid you never link back to an article because the video itself is the article ‘It’s a kitten doing somthing cute, you want me to write 500 words on it as well! Sheesh!’.

Mark everything supplied by a third party as an exclusive
Everyone knows that they can read exactly the same story in another tabloid and the same goes for video.   But we know that the audience doesn’t read another newsaper or site so you can put exclusive on with impunity. Adding ‘exclusive’ really means ‘as far as you care it is’.

Okay, maybe a bit tongue in cheek.

So, did I learn anything serious from the Tabloids?

Brand Vs Audience.

It was clear that there was a marked difference in the reponse to video by the tabloids compared to the broadsheets. For me that difference comes down to using video as a definition.

The broadsheets very clearly see video as defining of their brand. The Guardian and their world affairs coverage illustrate that nicely. Their choice of video is based on the idea of telling you a story that a) they think needs telling and b) wouldnt be told elsewhere. It’s a journalistic choice and a value judgment based on the Guardian’s view.  The choice of video on The Times and Telegraph takes that one step further by producing format video that segements the audience and goes down the route of providing minority programming. The Telegraph for example provides a right-of centre-politics show because they claim you can’t get it anywhere else.

But, in contrast, the tabloids use of video is defined by their audience. You can see this most clearly in The Sun, The Mirror and The Mail.

The selection of video on these publications websites is varied. The overiding theme is video culled elsewehere from the web (and offline) that would appeal to the reader, regardless of its relevence to a ‘news’ agenda.  The Sun is much more profficient at pulling the Youtube style video in but the mail is quickly learning what its audience wants to see. Perhaps the slughtly higher-brow of the Mail prevents it having too many youtube vids but the editorial line is the same. They are offering a rubber stamp of approval on the content of the video not validating the source.

Perhaps this says more about the Tabloid websites ability to define an audience and their willingness to make the online presence something papably different in structure from the print publication. Maybe it’s just scatalogical and best fits the general direction of tabloids as they move away from ‘newspapers’ to daily magazines. Whatever the reason I think the way tabloids use video highlights the way the role of newspaper websites and the function of the journalists working on them changes.

One of the popular suggested future roles for journalists  is the idea of journalist as a link validator – we find the stuff on the web that you want and you trust us to find it.   Looking at the tabloids attempt at video, particually the Sun and the Mirror you have to ask if they havn’t applied this idea effectivly already.

If I had to put names forward for best users of Tabloid video it would have to be the Sun and The Daily Mail. But even though The Mail doesn’t have very much video on their site I would throw my hat in the ring and say that if they continue in the vein they are, and ignore the lure of things like the formatted tech review, their mix of illustrative video and well chosen third party video could really work.

What about the People.

As an end note I just wanted to point out that one tabloid was missing from this review – The People.  Go and have a look and it’s pretty clear why it wasn’t included.

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