Online video: can it get any worse than this?

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.


14 thoughts on “Online video: can it get any worse than this?

  1. Dimitri Pesin

    You are so right about this.

    Just adding a video to your website doesn’t mean it’ll become a better website.

    Video (and audio) content is one of the best things about the web and should be treasured. You should make use of it properly, or not do it at all and concentrate on improving the other content.


  2. Andy

    There is some of this I agree with, in particular the “integrate it with the rest of your journalism”. But there is part of me that thinks its a little unfair.

    You say-“if we want to know the latest headlines we can read them in our own time on the homepage.” – I could be pedantic and say ‘what if you can’t read it?’. Maybe a quickie talking newspaper bulletin makes it more accessible.

    But thats picky. Let me be more geenral.

    You have to start somewhere. I know it’s breaking a cardinal rule of journalism to show our working in public, but a bulletin is just as good a way to grow a culture of video in a newsroom, as well as in your audience, as a piece of reporter shot video packaged or integrated with your content.

    Confidence with the camera means when people do go out you get better footage. Bulletins offer a low start risk way of getting to grips with video and generate usable, if not ground breaking content.

    Their competition for newsquest in the area is the Lancashire Evening post. Their bulletin gets slicker and slicker. Like it or no like it, Bolton are respnding to the competition with their bulletin.

    So, give your old paper a bit of time – Let them have a go and you never know it may get better.

  3. Pingback: Newspaer video: Who cares what it is. Why are we doing it? : Andy

  4. paulbradshaw Post author

    Yes, I’m being rather unforgiving. I put it down to being very crabby with this recurrent virus that’s forcing me to drink Lemsip Max, a torture that no one should have to endure.

  5. Andy

    I get the same problem with Night nurse – makes me see things as well

    Hot water, lemon, honey and a drop of whiskey – homemade lemsip

    Get well soon.

  6. Paul Groves

    As an ex-regional newspaper hack for over 15 I can applaud the fact that papers are finally waking up to such things. But the way in which they are doing it is disappointing to say the least.
    You’ve got another great example of a missed opportunity in Birmingham – the attempt at creating a Post Blog on icbirmingham.
    If you’re going to do it, at least try and make it look good – a lesson that extends to so many things in life.

  7. Robert

    Two points here. First, yes a bulletin on a website in this form isn’t great. It could be better, but what’s really missing are the journalists actually heading off and recording some of their own video to include.

    Secondly, this format *could* work, just not on a website like this because we have all the stories around us in a non-linear form. Where a bulletin like this comes into its own is when we are removed from the website. eg, video download, or IPTV service, such as BT Vision.

  8. Pingback: » Zeitungen mit Video-News: Gut gemeint ist das Gegenteil von gut produziert

  9. Pingback: Papers do video, with mixed results »

  10. robb montgomery - CEO

    When I work with newspaper editors and reporters on Web video projects I recommend a layered approach.

    The first layer is reporters carrying small, durable cameras that can take usuable video – they are on them at all times so that they can be used to get the stories WHERE THE STORIES ARE – not where the editors are.

    That’s the first layer, the second involves dedicated videojournalists and producers doing projects work and other regular news features.

    There’s more to newspaper video than merely parotting what broadcast TV does. There is more than having a slick interface. If you don’t have compelling content and invlove interactive social media tools with your video reports it won’t matter.

    Web video is a new medium, demands different story approaches and editorial experience in making the right types of assignments. They cannot be assigned like typical newspaper photo assignments. The learning curve here is huge. But, at least efforts are starting to be made.

  11. Pingback: Papers do video, with mixed results »

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