Slideshows can plug the video gap

Update: Michael has posted a response to the comments prompted by the blogs I mention below. 

Media Grunt Michael Bazeley, has a couple of posts relating to video and multimedia on his blog.

In the first post Bazley ponders the ubiquity of soundslides. He is bored of dull audio slideshows.

…audio slideshows have always felt sort of like poor man’s video to me, trying to create movement and energy out of something static. Now that video tools are so cheap and ubiquitous, and the delivery so easy, why not just use video?

The answer may be in the second of his posts, Memo to photo staffs: embrace video, where Bazeley is surprised by the results of a bit of research being done by Seth Gitner, the multimedia editor of

Seth has been asking the users of the Newspaper Video Yahoo Group about their papers use of video.

The good news is that a lot of them are diving enthusiastically into video. The bad news, in my opinion, is that in some cases, it’s not coming out of the photo departments.

Bazeley can’t understand why all the effort seems to be focused on training up reporter and photogs seem unwilling to get involved. Me neither. But I’m not sure if he thinks this is because of the exclusion of photogs or their own reticence to participate.

In the article he sites a couple of examples of video – The Bakersfield Californian producing video with little input from Photogs and the where photogs are very involved – and both highlight problems for me.

The Bakersfield video content is hard reporting. It’s notebook in one hand and camera in the other, scene of the crime stuff. The Mercury content on the other hand is what many would call feature content.

I think both have their pro’s and cons. The Bakersfield content, for all its editorial edge, lacks the visual finesse that an experienced eye would bring. As Bazeley points out

For run-of-the-mill daily news video, it seems to be working great. But without the participation of the photo staff, you’re likely missing out on some really exceptional video storytelling possibilities.

I have a lot of sympathy for that view, but even with that participation, a lot of video content on line (including some of The Mercury content) drifts and drags – it’s lacking a strong editorial line.

So how do we strike a balance?

It’s obvious that video content works best when a reporter and a journalist work together.Franks Fight by reporter Mark Emmons and photojournalist Pauline Lubens is a cracking example of this.

But if, for now, that isn’t going to happen, if journalists and photogs are going to separated along the hard news and features line, then I would encourage both (in the nicest possible way) to ignore Michael’s first post.

Soundlsides, and other audio slideshow apps are a great way to get your head around the dynamics of creating moving stories and understanding how images and script work together, over time.

Journos: Why not try taking the photos a photog takes of a story and then script and produce a one to two minute slideshow that uses those beautiful images to full effect.

Photogs: Why not try taking a journalists video script, or brief news article and script and illustrate a one-minute story with your images images.

Then, and here is the key, why not meet in the middle of the newsroom and show each other what you have done.

For extra homework use the sideshows as a storyboard and shoot it on video.

6 Replies to “Slideshows can plug the video gap”

  1. Andy,

    Just to clarify. It’s not that I “can’t see the point of any” audio slideshows. Rather, it’s what you said before that. I’m bored with dull audio slideshows. They’re all beginning to look and sound alike. Everyone is aiming for the same NPR-like tone. Mix it up a little bit. Change the pacing and tone. Quit being so ponderous with the audio.

    As regards video and photogs, that post was borne out of a frustration and dismay that some photo staffs seem indifferent to video and its possibilities. I think that’s a shame. But I’m beginning to realize that, as long as someone is doing video, maybe it doesn’t matter.


  2. Hi Michael

    Sorry for the over generalisation there. Removed th eline.

    I agree it’s a shame that photogs don’t get involved. Any video is better than none (most of the time) but it would be (and is) so much better when they are.

  3. The wheel is constantly being reinvented – and the new videojournalist is merely an excited still photographer “discovering” what television photojournalists have been doing for the past five decade.
    Reporters script the pictures? In news it’s called an enterprise photo essay (done entirely by the photog/editor)
    Work with a reporter using their script? Done that….it’s called daily news.
    Maybe some of these newspapers should hire one television photojournalist (which means a shootereditor) to show them the works.

    What I have seen that can’t easily be replicated by TV PJs is the awesome imagery shot by still photogs – they truely have a gift. What I have also seen (and all too infrequently) is a merger of audio/video/stills into true storytelling. The one-man band can produce stories which compell the viewer to watch. Not every TVPJ or aspiring still VJ can hack it.

  4. Hi Cyndy

    I agree. In an earlier post that’s exactly what I advocated – Get the pros in to help rather than lots of pro equipment

    The thing about TV news is that it is collaborative. That used to be the case right through the production chain, but even ENG and single camera operators couldnt make a dent in the working relationships between camera crew, reporter and vt editor.

    The problem is that these relationships arent there in many newspapers and the move to the web seems to seperating the photogs from the journos even more. In an environment where collaboration doent happen – by structure or as Michael says, by the lack of interest by one or other party – you need to find ways to get people working together.

    Once you get that you can then start to experiment yourself with what the medium can really do.

    The one man band can produce the commpelling stories and more power to them, thats what is so great about the web, and it should (rightly) put the wind up the trad media. But it would be som much better for the newsrooms looking to ‘go digital’ if one person didnt have to do it all.

    Lets get a little bit of that TV attitude in to the print newsrooms.

  5. The audio slide show has been around for several years. Only now has it become easy to do without flash knowledge through the use of Soundslides.

    Reporters and photographers alike that are getting into this stuff, need to concentrate on the storytelling. They need to think outside the box, and to innovate.

    Audio slide shows are the precursor to video. They will get folks thinking about how sequencing images can push that story forward and keep the audience engaged.

    Slowly more and more still photogs will grab hold of the audio slideshow and slowly they will be enlightened by the stories they can make using video.

    This is the time to try. This is the time to concentrate on how stories are told.

    This is not the time to put TV photogs head to head with still photogs. We all have a lot to learn from eachother.

    This is the time to recognize that print storytelling is not the only way for folks to tell stories that the utilization of multimedia storytelling techniques is the way to tell the story in the online age.


  6. Seth, I couldn’t agree more.

    I would much rather see a collaborative model pushed forward here, rather than the competition model or to paraphrase Howard Owens – a disruption model.

    That model is valid when we talk about how these ventures are going to make money – Who is going to take revenues from who. But surely when we get down to the content we can move beyond that.

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