Getting Online Video to Work

Two posts online this morning, each linked in content … first up is the Poynter Institute’s Regina McCombs talking about what works in the online video realm. Her assessment mirrors my favorite response to students, “It depends.” Based on the questions that lead to that post, Chuck Fadley at talks about what has worked there, which comes down to hard news and sports helping to generate half a million views a month.

McCombs asks …

Why don’t features — or any video stories — work more consistently? Producers have a lot of ideas: lack of placement within stories. Lack of marketing. Lack of sales staff training. Lack of listening to our readers. Poor navigation. The list goes on. Unfortunately, a lot of it is a guessing game.

I’m going to repeat part of that: Lack of listening to our readers.

You can read every report on how important online video is. You can go to every online conference. You can train your staff to do video. But if you don’t talk to your audience, you won’t know what they want. And that’s a bigger shift than most publishers and editors think it is. Yes, they focus group. Yes, they read letters to the editor. Yes, they allow comments on the web site.

But journalism is not mass communication any more.

Whoa … let me say that again: Journalism is not mass communication anymore.

That phrase denoted the idea of one message being pushed out to a large audience. We report, we write, we edit, we publish – you read. It’s a one-way medium. That’s not the way it works anymore – journalism needs to move towards a more interpersonal communication model where there is more feedback, interactivity and conversation.

Some places are doing it, and some are doing it exceedingly well. But if you want video to work in your community, you have to have a conversation about what they want to see in video, what they want to see in photos and what they want to read.

And that … well, that’s hard to do.

Mark E. Johnson

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