Video Now: Recommendations


Narrator: After months of newsroom visits, interviews, and editing, we now reach the end of our report: Recommendations, a list of tips for successful news video.

One warning: these suggestions will not work for all newsrooms. Every organization is unique - different goals, different resources, different challenges. Also, we culled these tips from a very small sample of places producing video today.

Newsrooms are still experimenting and changing, but patterns of success have emerged.

1. Get Together. Share Ideas.

So what’s working?

Video producers need to get together to share ideas. Newspapers, magazines, and broadcasters all have their conventions and conferences. Online video news teams should, too.

2. Subject Not Medium

People consume news by subject, not by medium. Audiences don’t say “I want to watch news video.” They come for information on specific topics: Syria, Ukraine, Obamacare, sports.

Video should be embedded with other content, inside a blogpost, next to a graphic. Videos posted with other media get more plays. Those left in segregated “video” sections get ignored.

3. Sports & Explainers

Sports and explainer videos did well in every newsroom we visited. Like the old days of print newspapers and TV, people come for sports, especially local sports. They also come to be informed about hard-to-understand topics.

4. Be Evergreen

Breaking news has a short lifecycle. To get long-tail views, videos should be repurposed often, whenever appropriate.

5. Long and Short

Videos don’t have to be short, but shorter videos tend to get more play. That said, viewers will watch long videos -- 10, 20, 30 minutes -- or an entire series if the content is good enough. Length of video does not predict success.

6. Social Engagement

You can’t produce a guaranteed, viral hit. Most videos never get more than a few thousand views.

Instead of gimmicks, develop a consistently growing audience.

Newsrooms should engage new viewers through social media. Find audiences on platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Vine. Learn how these platforms (and their users) really work.

Make a shareable graphic for Facebook. Edit a 15-second explainer for Instagram. Shoot a 6-second raw clip for Vine. Make content specific to the platform.

Reach new viewers through social media. Teach them to see you as a source for video.

7. Two Teams

In your newsroom, have everyone shooting video, just not the same types of video.

Print reporters should shoot fast, raw iPhone clips to accompany their text. These unpolished videos should be posted instantly from the field.

A second team of highly-trained video journalists should produce in-depth, more sophisticated video stories.

Avoid the in-between. Stories should be up-to-the-minute fast, or deeply important.

Also, instead of replacing photojournalists, train them to become better print and video reporters. They’re the best eyes in your newsroom.

8. Not Just Page Views

Page views are one metric of success, but not necessarily the best.

Engagement, shareability and time on site are also important stats. Also, videos that serve the community and add value to your brand are not always rewarded with big numbers, but loyal viewers will watch important, long-form journalism and stay on your site.

9. Better Pre-Roll

Pre-roll ads are still a major strategy for making money, but they are terrible for the user. Make pre-roll fit the videos they precede. An ad for Disney World before a story about Syria does not make sense. Also, make pre-roll shorter and skippable.

10. Other Funding

Pre-roll ads will not pay the bills going forward. Newsrooms have to look elsewhere. Some are already successfully crowdfunding, winning grants, and syndicating content to pay for video production. This will be even more important as advertising CPMs continue to fall.

Video news will become even bigger in 2014. More video staff are being added to newsrooms each day. Newsrooms are converting photo teams to video departments, and the business side will continue to demand real revenue from video.

It is still early, and video has not reached maturity. This is a great time to experiment. The technology costs are low. The potential continues to grow, and there is no clear leader yet in the field.