Online Video Journalism

What is video journalism?

Video journalism is exactly what it sounds like. With the emergence of new technology and the changing landscape of the journalism world, media outlets other than television stations are relying more and more on online video content to keep readers informed and current on the latest news. Video gives the audience pictures to look at, rather than simply text to read. It can capture the audience’s attention more easily and for a longer period of time due to a deeper connection to the story. Instead of words on a page, there are actual moving images of a news event in video journalism.

Reporters bring all of the necessary video equipment with them to the location of a story, and there they get tape of what’s happening before bringing it back to the studio and editing the story for publication on the internet or for air.

Travis Fox of the Washington Post explains how a video story can differ from a text story. Sometimes, videos are produced in order to go along with a text story and don’t need every detail. Most stories, however, are meant to stand alone and need all of the background information along with the news provided in a written equivalent to the story.

Future of video journalism:

While video journalism is widely thought to still be a developing medium, there is some difference in opinion about the future of video journalism. Since the idea is still relatively new and constantly changing, there is not an abundance of academic studies or journals regarding the topic.

Jill Drew’s wrote an article for the Columbia Journalism Review’s September/October 2010 magazine that states her belief in the future success of video journalism. One of her opening arguments is that the ease of recording, editing and sharing video may lure young people into a full-time career in serious journalism. Video is always ready to be made, and modern technology makes it easy for even inexperienced journalists to produce video.

Drew cites an example of PBS’s Frontline supplementing its typical 90-minute documentary with a website. On the website, first used in 2009 for a documentary titled “Digital Nation,” additional video content can be uploaded and viewers can decide what they want to see. In a roundtable discussion of the differences between the traditional broadcast documentary and the web version, Mark Bauerlein proposes that the mediums help each other find a balance between views. However, Henry Jenkins was much more a fan of the web content. He wrote that the documentary was “mind-numbing and relentless” but that the website was “an extraordinary resource” that allowed for multiple points of view.

The same article describes Emmy Award-winning multimedia efforts by the Detroit Free Press as well as the expanding roles of video journalism in newspaper environments throughout the country, supporting her claim that if video journalism isn’t thriving yet, it will be in the future.

Issues with video journalism:

Because video is so easy to produce with new technology, nearly anyone has the capability to capture breaking news as it happens. This presents a problem for reporters, as they need to take time to get to the scene of a news story and may miss a crucial part of an event, whereas any individual citizen can capture video on their phones and instantly post the video to the internet. Producers must figure out how to balance and incorporate video belonging to an unnamed person, as Dave Marash writes, because television stations themselves are moving away from the use of solid video production in favor of talking heads or independently/personally-produced video.

Examples of online video journalism:

The New York Times produces what amounts to a brief summary of the top news stories of the day, giving viewers the major points of those stories while using photos and video that cannot be included in print editions of the newspaper. Unlike television news broadcasts that use original video, many of the images used by the times are either static photos or are video shot by other outlets and given to the Times.

Many newspapers use video to report on a story. For this story, Wegman’s grocery store was getting ready to open its first store in Massachusetts. At the stage in preparation during which this story was shot, it wouldn’t have been interesting enough for print but it created more content for the website and was able to add something that the readers wouldn’t have gotten in the dead-tree edition anyways.

In this example, the CBS Boston group – a collection of radio and television stations – was able to instantly upload video of flash flooding that happened overnight. Much of this footage could not be gathered and prepared in time for morning newscasts, but was ready several hours before the evening newscasts. Rather than wait, they decided to post raw video online.

CBS Boston: North Shore Flooding Raw Video

Broadcast news stations often cut video from on-air broadcasts and post individual stories, both long and short, on their websites. Here is one example of a short story that was part of a newscast on WHDH and was cut to the few seconds during which the anchor talked about the story for the web.

WHDH: Mass. lawmakers OK 3 casino, 1 slots parlor bill


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