Friday, February 29, 2008

Debate: Do you have time to make videos?

Great comments on my post about CEO Craig Dubow's annual letter to shareholders -- and his assertion that "our program to train hundreds of print journalists in the use of video has been much lauded.'' (Can you source "lauded" next time, Craig?)

One reader says: "I just never have figured out how I was going to be able to cover an event, take notes (for Internet updates) shoot video and snap off a few photos, too. Then rush back to the Information Center . . . upload the photos and video, and write the story for the print edition. . . . I have never managed to pull it off and it depresses me that anyone thinks I really might be able to do it."

Join the debate, at the bottom of the original post.


  1. There's so little budget for travel coverage means working by telephone. Not much video potential there.

  2. Ha ha ... that's a good one.

    I'm one of the 43 USAT'ers who took buyouts in December (haven't looked back or regretted it for one nanosecond).
    I was talking with one of my ex-colleagues (still on staff) today, who took digital camcorder on a recent assignment, dutifully gathered video along with print-story notes/quotes and, when time came to file along with story, was told by dot-com, essentially:
    Sorry, we don't have anybody here to edit/put a package together.

    Can you say f---ed-up? What's the point of doing it if the dot-commies aren't set up for or don't have enough folks to do this simple part of the "new reality" of USAT? What a joke.

  3. At the Gannett unit I work at we have at least 30 folks trained in video, and it's probably a lot more than that. The only ones who routinely do videos are photographers because the reporters who were trained in video can't get the time from their editors (who consider video a distraction) to edit them. And even when the photographers turn in a video the folks that run the online side of the IC won't post them.

    But the photographers still do them because they have to meet their quotas.

    It makes absolutely no sense.

  4. The video training I was involved in taught us how to edit and post our own video, so that we wouldn't need the "dot.commies." I just assumed that was true at all sites that received training. Was it different elsewhere?

  5. Nobody at USAT is posting his/her own video... not yet, anyway. It all has to funnel through the dot-commies.
    But if folks ARE posting their own, it raises an interesting question, perhaps best left to answer in a separate blog item/thread:
    What about this straight-to-the-Web model of covering news (or alleged news) at the local papers, with "mojos" out in the field, filinig with no editing oversight whatsoEVER? I can never, ever imagine that happening at USAT, and maybe for obvious reasons, chief among them being it's not a local paper and doesn't do local little-item things that are the staple of hyper-local or "local-local" coverage, block-by-block, neighborhood-by-neighborhood.
    That said, however, what's the rationale/defense for such a slovenly practice? Have the Gannett bigs (or their lawyers) figured out/decided that anything that goes up on a Website without an editor's hand is somehow off in the ozone/limbo of the rest of the Internet and absolves a Gannett paper from responsibility for it? Why else would a paper allow its staffers (and let's face it, at many small-small papers, the most inexperienced staffers sent out to troll for piddly stuff at the streetcorner level) such responsibility, to actually be posting stories/photos/video without ANY other eyes seeing them first?
    Again, probably for another thread, but it goes hand-in-hand with the post-own-videos-to-Web notion.

  6. ...the reporters who were trained in video can't get the time from their editors (who consider video a distraction) to edit them.

    That's really the crux of it where I work. We have reporters who actually are excited about the idea of doing videos (especially the younger ones who see where the industry is heading and know that if they want to move up, the more multimedia stuff they know, the better), but they are constanlty discouraged by their editors to do video because of the time involved.

  7. Out of the six or so people trained at my paper, I'm the only one doing it. For some, it's a time issue - not enough time on the clock to report and do video without OT. And we have no OT.

    I, however, am salaried so I'm screwed. If it's breaking news, I focus on the video (and post directly to the Web myself) and get back to my "regular" job when that's over. If it's not, I end up doing the video at the end of the day.

    There's a lot of talk from management about "cross-training" all our people on video. It's unrealistic because our staff has been decimated as people have left and positions remain open. Here, it's not hourly staffers working OT under the table, but the salaried people who have to fill in the gaps (but I digress).

    Since I've just been told that we now have a video quota to fill this year, I guess I'll be seeing a lot of long days.

  8. A video quota? Very interesting. How many per week/month/year? Tell us more. And everyone else: Is your paper imposing quotas?

  9. I feel pretty fortunate reading these posts that I have an awesome boss who will go to bat for myself and the other photog (yup, small daily paper) and make sure we almost never have to shoot both stills and video for the same assignment.
    About quotas: We've been having an ongoing battle with higher-ups wanting a certain number of photo galleries and videos each week. We've been told to produce 15 galleries and 5 videos each week. We scoff.

  10. >>A video quota? Very interesting. How many per week/month/year? Tell us more. And everyone else: Is your paper imposing quotas?>>

    At the Gannett site I work at, we met with the Executive Editor after our video training and he told us photographers would be expected to do about 7 videos per month and reporters either 3 or 4.

    Photographers met those quotas at first but reporters ran into problems almost from day one because their editors weren't on board with the whole video thing.

    The quotas aren't as strictly enforced now (basically cause the dot commies, excellent term by the way) don't want to post our vids.

  11. We don't have a quota in Louisville, but we're shooting for a goal of five new videos every day. Some of those could be reader-generated (footage of a severe storm, etc.) There are definitely some hurdles to making it all work smoothly, but I think that's the case whenever you try something new. Now if we can just sell some video ads ...

  12. Hard to sell something no one wants and anyone who looks at the traffic numbers will tell you no one wants the videos. One of the many examples from the Clark-Johnson regime of the cart coming before the horse.

  13. At our paper, we get regular e-mails detailing top page views for photo galleries and videos. Photo galleries do very well -- lots of them get 10,000 hits or more. Our web audience loves to look at photos. (Ooo, shiny!)

    HOWEVER, the daily list of top 10 videos is often a disappointment. The top vids are usually seen by a few hundred people. Some are quite literally watched by a few dozen. A cumulative total for the top 10 videos some days is less than 1,000.

    I've seen no evidence in the town where I work that our web audience is much interested in video. Possibly they will be someday, but we're ahead of then, spending lots of time, money and staff hours producing something they don't want. Time, money, etc., better spent -- at least for now -- on traditional print journalism.

  14. Remember, though, that the ad rates paid for the "pre-rolls" are much higher than, say, for text ads. So, videos can still be profitable at fewer impressions.

  15. VIDEO QUOTAS, that figures, I knew GCI wanted quanity and not quality. That thinking is going to sink the already sinking. Only a few Gannett sites are doing well with video but most just post a lot of fluf. If you want a good example of bad video and just posting to meet a quota go to the Westchester site and watch the video about a boy who climbed a tree and couldnt get down, there has to be better local news 20 minutes outside of NYC


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