Newspaper video: Please not NewsTube

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[Howard Owens posts](http://www.howardowens.com/2007/newspaper-video-is-not-tv/) a couple of interesting comments about the relative quality of newspaper video vs. TV. The general gist seems to be that the rough edges are what make’s it work.

He assumes that the comments will poke the fire of the newspaper video debate

I’ve said it before, and even though every time I say it, it draws criticism, I will keep banging out the same note: newspaper video cannot and should not be TV.

I don’t see why the statement should be so shocking. It’s clear, for all kinds of reasons that Newspapers can’t, and shouldn’t, do TV. An article in the Washington Post about the break-up of the relationships between newspaper and TV companies would seem to support this.

There were great aspirations, but it was never followed through. It was a mismatch: The [Belo] bureau served 17 television markets, and the newspaper people only worked for the Dallas Morning News. It was not really seen as an asset [for newspaper journalists] to be put on the air anywhere but Dallas.”

The article puts an interesting perspective on the predictable rush of Newspaper execs to chase the advertising. At one point they saw the future with TV, now they see it with the web.

In 2000, Times Co. Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. said: “From a business perspective, we will not achieve the financial success that can be ours without entering the world of television.”But last year, when the Times exited its partnership with Discovery — Times reporters narrated cable TV documentaries on topics such as al-Qaeda — Sulzberger said the company saw the future of video in short form and on the Web, as opposed to long form and on television.

But when I look at this story in the context of the quotes Howard picks out, something doesn’t sit right here for me.

The execs have persuaded themselves that the audience for web video is in the quirky, quick and dirty, YouTube style of video. It doesn’t hurt that this is also cheaper than running a TV station, but don’t get me wrong, I’m not attacking the execs for going where they think the money is, that’s what they pay themselves to do. The sad thing is they are making a direct connection between the popularity of YouTube style sites with what the audience want – not the same thing.
What worries me is that this reinforces and is reinforced by the idea put forward in the quotes from Howard’s post, that the rough, amateurish video is somehow an audience winner, somehow better. Perhaps the way we should be doing things.

The issue, for me, is this. Whilst we find our feet with online video, it is going to be rough round the edges but it is going to get better. That doesn’t mean its going to be like TV, it just means we are going to get quicker and more professional about doing it. What it actually looks like is another matter.

If we start making it a defining feature of our online video that it is as ropey and amateurish as the majority of YouTube content, we are on to a loser. It assumes the audience is the same and expects the same from all its sources.

If they want YouTube, I’m sorry to say, they will go to YouTube. We need to give them something else.

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