Better online video for news: Short movies = long pictures

Today’s great post from Mindy McAdams reminded me of some thoughts I’ve had recently about online video. News organizations are trying too hard! There’s an easier way to tell video stories on the web.

The web is not TV

Television news has gotten us used to a specific format of video. But a TV piece doesn’t make much sense on the web, especially when you’re accompanying a written story. I don’t need an intro, talking heads, or scrolling text updates online. I’m already reading the story! All I want is the payoff.

Show me the gaffe. The explosion. The kid saying something adorable. I don’t want to see a reporter, or your logo, an ad or anything else. Just the goods. Use video when words fail to capture the moment.

This bit from does it right. News videos are usually a separate piece from the written article, this one is the exception to the rule. (Compare to this other piece from The videos cut to the chase and go straight to her dialogue — they are an interesting accompaniment to the story.

But wouldn’t they be more effective embedded directly into the story, as illustrations? Couldn’t we treat videos like photos in a magazine? Instead of using video as an alternative to reading, use it to punctuate ideas.

Enter the long picture

When Flickr introduced video support earlier this year, their photo-loving users flipped. To calm them down, Flickr suggested that the community thought of them as “long photos.” By limiting the time of a video to 90 seconds, they encouraged brevity and simplicity of production.

& by striatic

Blurry, short, and fan-freakin-tastic

12seconds and Seesmic are already thinking this way, but about conversations. They show us something very important: Video doesn’t need to be perfect to be compelling. Watching John Cleese and a little girl have a conversation is totally great even if the video is brief and grainy.

Re: Ella /: John Cleese on Seesmic Tuesday 7th at NOON Pacific Time
Re: Ella /: John Cleese on Seesmic Tuesday 7th at NOON Pacific TimeThanks John!

You don’t need videographers

I’ve found the sweet spot length of a video is under a minute for sure, and I’ve been quite happy with videos eight to twelve seconds in length. With a video that short, folks don’t really care if the camera shakes or if it’s a little fuzzy. And you don’t need to edit it! Just shoot a bit of video, upload and embed.

And the gear couldn’t be simpler. My $300 Panasonic TZ5 digital camera takes great pictures and shoots *HD video*. Plus it’s got image stabilization and a mother of a zoom lens. Or you can keep it super simple and pick up a Flip – they’re cheap and do a great job. (I shot the video embedded above on my TZ5. For more examples, check out my Long pictures set on Flickr.)

This is simple stuff. You don’t need expensive equipment or a video production team. News organizations are already encouraging their reporters to take photos — why not ask them to shoot a bit of video too? It doesn’t need to be perfect to tell a great story on the web.

Grading news applications on the iPhone

Mindy McAdams graded news apps on the iPhone 3G:

Bloomberg LP doesn’t have any pictures or video, but whew! It loads fast and navigates fast. It updated a few times in the 24-hour span from Saturday to Sunday night; I’m betting that will only increase Monday. Note that you can input your own stocks, including the number of shares you own, for price updates. Grade: A

Bloomberg on the iPhone 3G

They sold 1 million 3G iPhones over the weekend. Looks like it’s time to set up one of those iPhone plugins for WordPress. Gots to make this place look pretty on the new shiny!

Surviving newspapers: don’t get caught in the undertow

Are we sinking or sunk?  Alfred Hermida writes that, at least in Canada, new research shows that nobody buys the paper for local news:

The main reason for choosing newspapers was out of habit. People were either daily readers or subscribers.

But only 8% said they choose newspapers because they were a source of local news. And even less said it was because they like holding a physical paper.

101_2510 by Br3nda
101_2510 by Br3nda

How to keep your head above water

Amy Gahran, Swimming Lessons for Journalists:

So where will today’s journos find tomorrow’s jobs? Here’s my take: Not in news organizations. At least, not in news orgs as we’ve grown accustomed to them over the last century. That ship is quite obviously sinking.

Mindy McAdams, The survival of journalism, 10 simple facts:

Newspapers were a nice business. Publishers could make the product insanely cheap (remember the penny press), and the advertising would cover the expenses, plus generate fantastic profits. However, this is clearly over. It’s done. It worked for a long time, but now, like trans-Atlantic leisure travel in big passenger ships, it will never work again.