Sam is a friend of mine from college. He sent me a rant the other day.
I think most news outlets WAAAYYY overvalue their internet video content. For the record: I HATE IT. I never willingly click on a news video. Ever.
I’m looking for information, not some ****-***-slow-to-load or streaming content barfed on me by some D-list talking head du jour. I want to click and read in two seconds, not wait ten or thirty seconds or more for some stupid intro to the actual information (or worse, a 15-30 second ad before the “story”). And I don’t want to disable all of my advertisement/malware blocks to see the stupid video.
Anyway, I’m just bitching because I accidentally clicked through to what I hoped was an article, but was just a stupid ******* video I did not want to wait to load. I’m an old fart, back from when people would actually read things and think through the information, and not just glaze over video content of the quick and easy and meaningless version.
If ever there were a case of the customer being right, this would be it.
Bandwagons and Bandwidth
It’s cheap to do video now. The camera I purchased for $800 ten years ago is outperformed by orders of magnitude by a unit that weighs 75% less, and costs 50% less. It’s cheap to edit video, and we’re in that Gutenberg/Luther phase where we find out just how revolutionary the medium can be when it is democratized.
The downside is we consume a ton of bandwidth on dog-lick video. (As in, “why does a dog lick himself? Because he can.”) The term has been around TV newsrooms for decades, usually referring to live shots with a reporter who is nowhere near anything relevant. Live for the sake of live. Why are we going live? Because we can. (Also, because news directors have to justify having the live truck around, and if it’s not used every day the bean counters start wondering if they’re necessary.)
However, one thing that is changing is the oncoming digital convergence. It’s true that longtime newspaper employees don’t have the institutional knowledge about handling certain types of stories with video. They aren’t fluent in the language of editing. But they are learning. Likewise, television and radio news-gatherers are picking up the skills they need to update the web. And if you don’t believe me, wait until the next high-profile trial in your town, and see how well the reporters are tweeting it.
This is going to be a digital divide in generations. Sam and I are on the other side of that line:
I understand the flow and division of tasks in newsrooms, and that some outlets are print-based and that others are video-based. I don’t visit the sites of our local TV stations looking for articles, nor the local newspaper site looking for video (though, they do a pretty good job with it when they use it).
It’s annoying to see a link on ESPN.com, for instance, that goes to video-only content.
It will take some getting used to.
We’re All Newspeople Now
While journalists figure out right-tool-the-right-way on a broader scale, we’ll want to pay attention to their missteps. We have access to almost-professional-grade tools at reasonable prices, and there will be the incentive to expand our offerings for messages. But why make expensive mistakes, when you can be wise and learn from others?
Make your messages nimble enough to spread through multiple channels, and reach people where they want to be found.
Coincidentally, I received Sam’s rant at the exact moment I got an email pitch from a company touting the video revolution. Flip Video cameras (or their lesser-known functional equivalents) are the rage in internal communication. They provide corporate communicators with a different means of telling a story. They also can suck a lot of needless bandwidth, if they are dog-lick videos not worth a Flip.
Like this one.