Newspaper video: It just has to work

Haven’t posted in a while, but I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Boston working on a research project for the Newspaper Association of America on trends in online video and had a thought to share.

I’m taking a course in Web videography offered at Medill and taught by a Tribune Interactive video guy, Brad Piper. Longtime print reporter James Janega from the Trib put together a video on Fallujah, Iraq, and came in to discuss it. One of things he said that stood out the most to me was his point that when you’re in the news business, “It just has to work,” he said.

Although Janega had a background in broadcast before switching to print, he discussed how time constraints and the limited access reporters enjoy in Iraq due to safety concerns both limited what he could produce as a one man reporter with a handheld video camera. Furthermore, Janega was primarily responsible for coming back with a print piece of the paper.

But his piece did work. Plenty of his shots were shaky. His camera doesn’t have a jack for a microphone. And the video didn’t delve into the issues nearly as deeply as his print piece did. But his video worked. It showed a side of the story that his print piece couldn’t.

It’s an inspiring bit of news for small papers, in my opinion, with limited means to produce video. People have voted with their clicks and shown that they are willing (and eager!) to watch videos of lower production quality on YouTube, if the story is worth it.

I don’t see a compelling reason why they wouldn’t do the same when it comes to local video.

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