Defining newsaper video: Video Illustration

A post by Howard Owens did that post reminder thing for me today. You know, where someone links to a post you had almost forgotten you had written. He was talking about terms he uses to describe video:

Nearly a year ago, Andy Dickinson did a post labeling three types of newspaper video: Disruptive, channel and multimedia. At the time, I suggested “attached video” was a better label than “disruptive,” being that disruption is a strategy not a category.

That post influenced a slide in my internal video training presentation. My three categories of video have been: Attached, story, and webcast.

Attached is that short video meant to embed on a story page. Story video is the full story, no text needed, and webcast is that sort of thing that usually has an anchor/host and covers more than one topic.

Like Howard I was influenced by the discussion around the post and subsequent development of it. Things got a little complicated. But over time things have developed and my slides have simplified to: Clip, Bulletin and Package.

The definitions are similar to Howard’s.

Clip content has no editorial context other than the context that it gets from the story it’s embedded in or the link and teaser parapgraph you followed to get to it. Bulletin content is, like Howard’s webcast, anchor/host led and packaged content is self-contained story video (script, broll and all the other stuff you would expect to see on a TV style package).

You can see the similarities. I could say great minds and all that but it’s more likely that, surprisingly, there is some coherent approach surfacing in the industry.

OK, let’s not get too carried away here. It’s a consistent approach to one of the types of video: Attached/Clip video. Or as Howard is now calling it ‘video illustration’

Video Illustration

Others have identified the approach, searching for a name.

Paul Bradshaw called it moving pictures “where video is added to a text story as an illustration, without narration but in the same way as a still image might be used.” . He used the image of the Daily Prophet from the Harry Potter films to illustrate his thinking. Video whirlwind David Dunkley Gyimah also talks a lot about working video in to the ‘page’ (sorry Dave, lost the link to the post where you talk about this)

I like the definition a lot as it fits with my view that this kind of video works better when it is placed alongside or, at worst, linked directly from text content on a page. When Im talking through this with people, I also point out that its the one that is often least taxing in the newsroom.

It’s commonly content that has been generated by a user, supplied by a source(fire brigade, cctv, police) or a quick interview snippet. And regardless of the way it’s generated it really only needs topping and tailing around the best ‘clip’ to make it ready for the web.

This chimes for Howard as well.

Story video may have its time and place, but unlike some, I don’t believe that is the sum and whole of what online video can or should be.

The point of quick-production, reporter-shot video should be to illustrate in a way that words alone cannot. Raw is good. Heavy editing is a waste of time. Context is a distraction. The point is not to capture the whole story. It is to illustrate a story.

Content that fits the strategy

Now before the anti-disruption league get all upset with my apparent support for the p&s approach (none of the approaches are the sum and the whole) let me explain why this works for me.

Raw is good, heavy editing a waste because it doesn’t have to work alone. Context a distraction because its being given by other elements on the page. It makes the best of the unique approach the web offers – different media on one page. It is multimedia in approach and practice

But beyond it being a great use of multimedia, I like this approach because the strategy, process and results all fit and are proved to work. The concept of video illustration works even if you advocate the longer form, videographer approach. A video illustration ‘clip’ can be plucked from the raw footage to embedd in a teaser story and make that web first stuff video rich.

So whether you call it clip, attached, moving pictures or video illustration. It’s an approach that transcends the debate which ever side of the video fence you sit.

10 Replies to “Defining newsaper video: Video Illustration”

  1. You and Howard are absolutely right about using Daily Prophet video clips. It’s a great idea.


    You need a CMS that allows you to embed video clips in the story.

    You need video hosting that feeds your clips quickly and reliably.

    You need producers to link your stories and multimedia components.

    Many major papers have decided on using stand-alone video players that serve videos – and ads – sequentially and in separate windows. Many major papers have content management systems that don’t give permanent urls for linking. Many major papers don’t have enough producers to deal with stories, let alone multimedia.

    When business decisions like these are made, it has a big effect on what you do.

    In the old days, your press configuration and capacity determined how many sections you had and when press turn was.

    Now, your CMS and your server bandwidth put similar constraints on video.

    If you made the decision to use a separate video player that can handle your bandwidth, you also decided to commit to making stand-alone video stories that don’t need the context of the story. They go hand-in-hand.

  2. Chuck

    Those are good points and of course you are absolutely right. Sorting out the way CMS’s are implemented is key to developing strategy.

    It strikes me that’s a lot more like the issue of metrics. That kind of thing has often been out of the hands of those generating the content. Your analogy of the presses is apposite.

  3. Interesting. Very interesting. Hi Andy.

    It might seem that we’re all at the same bus stop, even if not at same geographical grid – sorry, Matrix moment.

    I was with some senior regional journalists yesterday VJ training and we whizzed through a few UK sites, which today led to a post on this thing called videojournalism.

    The term videojournalism, now almost part of newspapers’ DNA, conjures up so many different thoughts, essentially video online from journalists . Good enough etymology?

    In 93 we (Vjs) had stoic thoughts on what this thing was; perhaps it was also youthful exuberance?

    But today in this invigorated market we’re seeing clear distinctions. I’ll be talking about this at <a href=””WANet al.

    For me it looks something like:
    VideoJournalism for TV – Same TV language- just made by one person. There’s a great VJ piece made in 1996 by my colleague Mark who interviews all the major UK newspapers.
    VideoJournalism DIY ~ papers doing Vjism with no training.
    Videojournalism – [gonzo], [invasive], [observational], [creative]
    Creative see Scott Rensberger *click image
    and often what I refer to as an IM6VJ approach – integrated multimedia VJ aproach, which is more aggressive.

    Forgive me they need further annotating, but broadly there are many many newspapers doing video, which is created off TV’s lingua franca.

    There’s nothing wrong with that, but size, flexibility, and the many pros Vj possesses, coupled with the web’s spatial-ineractive qualities begs something new.

    We’re seeing these breakthroughs from bespoke design-driven multimedia sites – some part of newspapers, some stand alones.
    * Filmmakers in residence is a big favourite.

    Many newspapers have mooted embedded video. At the London ONA
    meeting last year BBC technology had come into some favourable numbers from experimenting with embedded Vid. The Guardian have also expressed an interest.

    Perhaps it might take a CMS (now there’s ker chings) to move the tide, but then for uniqueness etc …..??

    Year of the rat huh! We live in multi-experience times and the feeling is this year will herald new new things perhaps making embeddd video a no brainer.

    Cheers D.

    p.s I’ll be producing an IM6 hyperlinked video next month, with multiple question strands from a senior BBC exec interview. I’m about to email you 🙂

Leave a Reply