It is with a deep sense of shame that I nominate the newspaper I grew up with – The Bolton (formerly Evening) News – for the worst attempt at online video I’ve seen so far.
Today’s Bolton News Video page features the often repeated mistake of the ‘news anchor’ reading out news stories – nothing new there, although as I’ve blogged previously, the role of the news anchor is already being performed by the website: if we want to know the latest headlines we can read them in our own time on the homepage.
But then it gets much worse – as the first story is introduced, the camera cuts to… an image of the article in that day’s paper. Now that’s creative and engaging storytelling.
Further stories cut to stock images of: a hospital; a firefighter; and a footballer. In fact, the only point at which we leave the office is… for the weather – probably the one piece of journalism that doesn’t require a journalist to leave their desk (thankfully we were spared images of clouds, rain, etc.).
I’m getting close to the point of making my own online news video service. It will consist of me sitting in front of a camera reading out the day’s headlines, then holding the paper up to the lens. Really, I could steal their viewers in an instant. And I would do the weather as a separate video because, frankly, if someone is looking for the local weather forecast online they’re not going to sit through five minutes of headlines to get it.
If you’re going to do online video, integrate it with the rest of your journalism. Television presenters are for TV; newspaper layouts are for print; stock images are for brochures. Send your journalist out with a video camera or don’t bother at all.