Online video: Viewers eat it up, even in low quality (but music is still involved)

At the news organization where I work, the debate over the quality of video continues. There’s an ongoing tension between those who want to produce quality (that is, take TIME to produce quality) versus those who want more quick-hit video. I believe major news organizations need to provide both kinds.

Over at Journalism 2.0, Mark Briggs compares polished New York Times videos with rough Wall Street Journal videos. They do the same thing – offer tech reviews – but the Times’ offerings are television quality, while the Journal’s Walt Mossberg produces single-take, cinema verite style videos shot with a web cam. Both approaches work, Briggs argues:

One reason is that the audience for video has become extremely forgiving and is now open to all levels of quality. Another is the bargain Mossberg has established with his audience. He is an authentic voice, having written a column in the Journal since 1991, who produces his content in video as a way to provide a different format and as a better experience than just text, since he can hold a device in his hands and show the viewer the product.

Unedited video streams from cell phones would have been unthinkable a few years ago in many newsrooms. They’re slowly becoming common practice. This shows how far some journalists have come in understanding their online audience.

They can strike a different bargain on the Web. They can provide video that isn’t perfect and in some cases isn’t that good. But if it’s authentic, if it takes a viewer to a news event or behind the scenes of somewhere important, it works.

What I find MOST interesting is that even Mossberg’s videos use music, demonstrating that you really don’t need to limit the use of music to lengthy, highly edited video projects. (And Walt’s music is pretty funky!)


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