I read a good post by Davin McHenry arguing the case for a balance between quantity and quality in online video at newspapers.(Via Howard Owens)
He makes the case, using You Tube and the Saddam hanging mobile video, that the public already have a low expectation level for video and the content will win out over quality.
So why pursue a standard that exceeds viewer needs? I certainly think there is room for documentary-quality video online. But why go that way exclusively? Spend $10,000 on a high quality setup with a couple cameras and decent editing packages and then spent the other half outfitting 25 reporters with cameras.
That way you can get the intimate feature video and footage from the accident down the street.
Part of me agrees with that. I do advocate an approach that gets as many people involved as you can. I have also nailed my colours to the mast in regard to the more rather than better argument in newspaper video – let’s just try this stuff and see what works. But part of that approach has been tempered by the experience of working with newspaper journalists making the move to video.
For them the visual and editorial quality relates directly to the journalistic quality. It’s an indication of the professionalism, and in the current climate professionalism is an important identifying feature of what we do. We aren’t your average joe blogger. We are supposed to be better and more professional at this content game.
I don’t for one minute equate high-cost with high-quality and I don’t think we should be forking out for expensive kit. But I think we have to be a bit more refined in the way that we produce video (with cheap kit) and taking You tube as a measure of what the public want isn’t, in my view, a way to do that.
Professional practice doesn’t need professional kit it needs a professional attitude and the right application of the professional conventions.
If I had to choose, I would go the route Davin suggests with one exception. I would outfit 20 reporters and then spend the money from the other five cameras getting a news camera person in to train the 20.
One of the other things I would try is to pair as many journos as I could with a photog and offer a prize at the end of the year for the best story from a team.