Â One third of large newspaper web sites now let readers comment on stories, while three out of ten require registration or payment to access their online material, according to a recent survey of how the top 100 U.S. newspapers are adapting web technology.
The survey, conducted by the Washington, D.C. public relations firm The Bivings Group, looked at a range of potential new media tools or techniques and charted their use by the rapidly-reforming dead-tree media.Â (See above).
I highlighted comments and registration because both are pet issues — I love comments andÂ fear registration.
I am also astonished to see web videos rocket past podcasts. AÂ colleagues with extensiveÂ multimedia experienceÂ told meÂ it takes two hours on average to produce one minute of highly edited video. That’s an enormous investment of time –Â toward what end?
Let me hasten to add thatÂ I believe in cross-platform storytelling and think video coverage can occasionally augmentÂ written reporting.Â
For instance,Â whileÂ writingÂ an articleÂ about copper pilferage I visited a scrap yard and was blown away by sound and fury of metals being crushed and bundled like cardboard. At my request,Â a colleague, image guyÂ Frederic Larson, shot and edited a 71-second video clip that very nicely captured the industrial grittiness of the place. As an experiment I am rather proud of this coupling of print and moving pictures.
But as a business reporter for the last 15 years, I have to ask:Â how many people viewed the video as opposed to read the news article; what did it cost toÂ produce each;Â how much did eachÂ presentation recoup in advertising revenue orÂ brand equity; when does video make sense on a news website?
That last point is worth another few words. Video is about motion andÂ emotion.Â It is about events in which seeing is believing, such as the Rodney King video that sparked riots in Los Angeles.
Given this I think news web sites should focus on elicitingÂ user-generated video.Â As video phonesÂ becomeÂ moreÂ commonÂ it is inevitableÂ thatÂ ordinary folksÂ willÂ capture newsworthy footage.Â The trick will be getting and filtering it.Â
So while I will continue to look for ways to tell stories in multiple media, I think the most useful and cost-effective video will come from cititizenÂ paparazzi.