“A video should be as long as it needs to be absolutely compelling.”
Andrew Fitzgerald oversees the online news efforts for Current TV. His view on video for the Web was echoed by the AP’s Kevin Roach and YouTube’s Olivia Ma. All three took part in RTDNA’s “Video-Free-For-All” webinar.
One of the fundamentals expressed is that the Web is changing audience expectations for video online or on the air. These days users and viewers seem to be more accepting of lower quality video, if it’s truly compelling. As one speaker put it, “It comes down to what camera you have in your hand at the time the news is happening.”
Case in point is the video shot by a bystander as demonstrators set up a barricade in Iran back in June.
Roach, who runs all U.S. based news operations for the AP, says they’ve found tremendous value in posting raw video online and says there’s no more waiting for the next newscast to get great video published.
“It’s really simple, first wins,” Roach said.
The panelists also reinforced the notion that inexpensive cameras are a major boon to news organizations, referring to $200 dollar Flip cams as “an insurance policy.”
Roach told the story of a “text-only” AP reporter who had the presence of mind to stop at a Radio Shack to buy a Flip camera on her way to track down South Carolina’s governor, Mark Sanford.
“Having a Flip cam in every reporter’s hands is not a bad idea,” Roach said. “And while you’re it, the GM and every engineer should have them, too.”
Roach says that if the subject matter is strong enough and you have “the only shot that exists, it’s acceptable.”
Cameras mentioned include:
- Flip camera $150-$250
- Canon HV30 $1,000
- Sony Z1U $3,500
- Sony EX1 $7,000
The speakers also questioned the wisdom of news organizations that refuse to share their video.
“Right now, the AP video player is on 2,000 sites and that number continues to grow. It’s not about getting people to your Web site, it’s about discovery,” Roach said. “A good chunk of our video is on YouTube. We get more than 50 million streams a month, and the ads go with it. Even if the video is streamed on another site, AP gets the ad revenue.”
News manager for YouTube, Olivia Ma, said local newsrooms that share their video on YouTube are also reaching audiences they “might not otherwise have access to.”
In addition, Ma described a new service called YouTube Direct. According to Ma, the service will provide local newsrooms an easy way to create assignments and solicit content from users. No launch date was mentioned, but it sounds like something worth checking out.