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Video: the Essential, Exciting New Challenge

Posted on the 26 June 2014 by Themarioblog @garciainteract
Video: the essential, exciting new challengeVideo: the essential, exciting new challenge
With the rise of the smartphone as the preferred platform, news videos gain vital importance

At a gathering of editors and publishers a few months ago, during the Q&A session following my presentation, an editor asked what I thought would be the biggest challenge for those managing newsrooms and curating news and information for presentation across platforms.

Two words came to mind: smartphones and video.

There is no question in my mind that if I had to put my money on one of the four platforms in the media quartet (phone, online, tablet and print), it would be smartphones. The action, both for editorial and advertising, will be in that platform.

Smartphones and videos go hand in hand, and I think if I see one area where we need to offer more training and to secure more daily surprises, it would be in the use of video to complement stories, especially on mobile devices.

However, in many traditional newsrooms, video is not the friendliest of terms. It is a second thought, an afterthought sometimes, and a term we associate with TV news more than with news coming out of a newspaper.

To me, this is the current challenge: to get traditional print driven and inspired editors to think video, and to incorporate that thinking in their daily meetings with reporters.

The rise of the smartphone as the preferred platform

According to a Nieman Lab report, written by Joshua Benton:

New data from eMarketer estimates that, in the United States, about 23 percent of Americans’ total media consumption in 2014 will come on mobile devices. That’s counting all media formats, including television, radio and print. Mobile’s already ahead of the total for laptops and desktops, 18 percent. And its share will keep growing as networks get faster and devices get cheaper.

Benton adds:

" Seven years after the iPhone, smartphones have moved from a tool of the tech elite to a handheld computer in everyone’s pocket. They’re radically changing how people are getting their news. And I fear that many news outlets still haven’t wrestled with how big a change they represent."


Smartphones are personal, social machines, optimized for communication and entertainment. Part of that optimization and/or enhancement of news stories comes via video.

Thia is also supported by a report from the third annual Digital News Report, covering ten countries:

Smartphones are encouraging users to consume news more frequently throughout the day reducing the dependence on appointment to view television and newspaper editions

Video and tablets

If there is one mobile device where videos are king,it is with those tablets.  In fact, video usage on tablets grows at expense of smartphones, according to a recent study from Living With Digital consumer research from Futuresource Consulting, which states that video usage on tablets continues to grow overall, with evidence suggesting it is cannibalizing smartphone activities.

The gist of that study:

Carried out using a nationally representative sample of consumers in France, Germany the UK and USA, 4,000 people were surveyed to gauge their behaviors, habits and lifestyle choices surrounding the consumption of entertainment, the study tells us that video usage on tablets continues to grow overall, with evidence suggesting it is cannibalizing smartphone activities


Why people watch video on smartphones


According to research from  Business Insider Intelligence, a new research and and analysis service focused on the mobile and Internet industries, video consumption on mobile phones has grown faster than PC video or tablet video in the last year, and 41 million people in the U.S. already watch video on their phones. 

It seems, according to this study, that the small screens on most smartphones do not present an obstacle to video watching on them, a message that should resonate with editors and designers in every newsroom.

There is a common denominator to smartphone video — most sessions are short. Only 40 percent of smartphone video sessions globally are over ten minutes in length, according to Ooyala, a global digital video streaming platform. 

This is something we have witnessed in our own work with smartphone editions and the focus groups accompanying them globally.

The status of videos in the newsroom
Video: the essential, exciting new challengeVideo: the essential, exciting new challenge Video: the essential, exciting new challengeVideo: the essential, exciting new challenge Video: the essential, exciting new challengeVideo: the essential, exciting new challenge
Yahoo News Digest excels in more frequent use of videos in its two daily editions

But, we still do not see enough videos on the presentation of news outlets for mobile devices.  I am happily surprised when I see a video clip while reading the New York Times on my tablet or phone (alas, recently a video clip from the new Clint Eastwood film, Jersey Boys. Quite enjoyable).

Yet, a quick glimpse at such titles as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the USA Today for phone shows that video use is minimal, except perhaps in the case of USA Today.  As for new start ups like Breaking News, Yahoo News Digest, Quartz and Circa also disappointed me, with very little use of videos, but tons of photo galleries.

Obviously, editors are more likely to rely on photo galleries for the visual presentation of news, not that this is a bad idea.
In a perfect world, however, it is the marriage of photo galleries and videos that creates an attractive mobile package.

Some tips for thinking "video" to accompany the news report:

1. Create a newsroom philosophy where the role of video is clearly defined, so that videos can become an integral part of storytelling. Essential. Required. Must have.

2. Offer training to all reporters in the basics of making videos as they go about their beats.  Remember, the audience is not expecting a Spielberg-quality video with Tom Hanks starring.

3. Make videos short and insightful, enhancing the story they accompany.  If the reporter includes a clip from an interview, the text will not repeat what that video covers.

4. In today's digital first now environment, editing by layers means separating the roles that the narrative (text), audio, video and photos play.  Each adds a different layer or dimension to the story.

5. Appoint someone in the newsroom whose main task is to develop the use of videos. Assign a name and a face to this task, or it will not become anyone's business.  Don't underestimate the power of video already to make your publication more essential.

There is no question in my mind that storytelling via video represents the greatest challenge and the best opportunity for us to enhance our presentation of news and get ready for when videos will not be a secondary element of storytelling, but perhaps the primary one. That day is not too far off.

Times of Oman 3D World Cup supplement: a must see

Here is how Times of Oman creative director, Adonis Durado, describes the process leading to this project:

The idea of coming up with a 3D issue of our supplement came from our CEO, Ahmed Essa Al Zadjali. He was so willful in instructing us that we should come up with something creative and innovative for our World Cup readers. It’s a known fact that in this part of the world, football is what people only care about. So he wanted us to bring different levels of experience to the readers – either in print or in digital.

TheMarioBlog post # 1520
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