Should Newspapers be cutting back on their online video content?

According to a study of 100 US newspapers undertaken by the Associated Press, a large number of them are cutting back on video and video journalists. As the current financial climate continues to bite hard at newspapers, it is often the video that is first to go.

Kevin Roach, Director of US Broadcast News at AP led and the study and found that financial reasons were often the main factor in the decision to cutback but he wouldn’t disclose the specific findings of the study.

He is of the opinion that newspapers should stick with their online video content as he believes it provides an important part of editorial output. He also thinks that there are new opportunities emerging for these newspapers in how people consume their content, e.g. through social media and new devices such as tablets.

He suggests papers must publish breaking news of local interest quickly in order for their videos to be effective. With the change to the web that social media has brought, getting news up quickly is essential.

Below is Beet TV’s interview with Kevin Roach.

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/goRrgqDXZwI%5D

However as others have been cutting back, the Miami Herald has been reaping the rewards of increased investment in its video content. Last year, MiamiHerald.com saw about a 25 percent growth in video traffic, making it the second biggest traffic driver behind articles.

They found over a period of study of six years that the most popular videos were sports and breaking news. These were already strong points at the Herald but with further investment and improvement they were able to build up a loyal audience.

The Herald uploads on average 60 to 80 videos a month and has partnered with Miami TV stations including WSFL-TV and CBS 4 in Miami to try to extend its reach. They share content with WSFL and cross promote content with CBS 4 which helps to increase the site’s traffic. The Herald also posts many of its videos to YouTube where they can get thousands more hits than on MiamiHerald.com and thus further increase it’s reach.

So if more newspapers could follow the Herald’s example of investing more in video then perhaps they too would experience similar success and not have to cut back on a vital component of news.

Below is a video from the Miami Herald, which I believe illustrates well what they are trying to provide: breaking news of local interest. It also shows the advantage of using video over simply just print, seeing pictures of the dogs elicits more emotion in us and gets us to engage more fully with the story than just an article could.

Miami Dade Animal Services Centre

Yianni Meleagros


Beet TV’s Online Video Journalism Summit

Just last month renowned online video blog Beet.TV hosted a summit on exploration into online video at the Washington Post. Beet TV focuses on the emergence of online video and its impact on industry and society and is generally recognized as the first business oriented video blog.

The panel at the summit included representatives from various respected news organizations including The New York Times, The Washington Post, msnbc.com, The Associated Press, CNN.com, Yahoo, CBS.com and others. The summit focused on how these associations used their online video to best effect and how they encouraged more viewers and hits. Here are some of my picks of the best tips that these online video connoisseurs had to offer.

Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post believes it’s important to do all you can to engage new viewers. Whether it’s Twitter, video journalism or print articles, it all helps to build up your network. Cillizza also had a warning to politicians, now that online services such as Twitter and YouTube reach the same audience as traditional media, production levels must remain high.

Steve King, also of The Washington Post advises syndicating your video both on and offline in order to expand your audience. For example at the Washington Post, video content is posted on Yahoo! as well as their own site. He sees the future of the whole of the business of the Washington Post to be in delivering video content that is exclusive to the newspaper. For example during the 2010 US mid term elections, the Washington Post hosted an Election Day twittercast with Chris Cillizza delivering the latest news and views from the polls.

Ann Derry the editorial director of video and television for the New York Times says their tactic has always been to, “be organic with the journalism and have the video come out of the journalism we are doing.” She also believes that integration of video into online articles is vital for higher views.

Yahoo! Video expert, Anna Robertson, argued why not broadcasting live but showcasing shorter clips works better with the shorter attention spans of online viewers. Ann Derry agrees with this saying unless there is a compelling reason for the video to be live, it shouldn’t be.

Kevin Roach of The Associated Press has found raw video to be the most successful with younger viewers because it is new and different from their parent’s TV news. However this is does not mean abandon making your neatly edited news type packages just yet as Stokes Young of MSNBC.com says they have had higher views in more explanatory, scripted news videos.

The panel also had lots of tips on how to actually get your video watched online. Anna Robertson says social media is very important, especially including embed codes to stream inline on Facebook or Twitter and allowing for easy referrals (like “click-to-share” links and embeds). According to Kevin Roach, 40% of AP’s streams from YouTube come from embedded streams in social media networks. Also search is one of the most important factors including having as many tags as possible that are relevant in order to maximize your content’s reach.

Watching the summit certainly expanded my thought processes in regard to online video and its potentials. Why not check out the video of summit for yourself here.

And here is the second half of the summit:

From left to right, Ann Derry, The New York Times; Stokes Young, msnbc.com; Kevin Roach, The Associated Press; Mike Toppo, CNN.com; Andy Plesser, Beet.TV; Alex Werpin, TVNewser; Anna Robertson, Yahoo! Video; Jeff Whatcott, Brightcove; Mark Larkin, CBSnews.com and Mike Stephanovich, Reuters Insider.

By Yianni Meleagros