The Independent Adds Video. Why?

We know the web blurs traditional media boundaries – broadcasters do text, radio does pictures, newspapers do video.

But sometimes those doing the doing forget to ask why?

Take the Independent’s tie-up with the Press Association. The deal provides the paper with over 100 90-second clips a week, each focusing on a single news item.

Jimmy Leach, editorial director for digital at The Independent, describes the deal thus:

“The Press Association’s expertise in providing quality news video quickly and professionally will give our video service some real immediacy and depth.”

No doubt PA makes high quality video and, yes, the deal may provide real immediacy on occasion. But depth? In 90 seconds of coverage? I’m not convinced.

If a newspaper is going to do video (or audio for that matter) it should:

  1. add value
  2. reflect its personality / agenda

I’m not sure the PA tie-up provides the Indy with either.

Why would those reading the text of a story be inclined to click the play button? Only if there’s a some killer footage in the piece (Lord Mandelson getting gunged, protesters on the streets of Tehran, Obama swatting a fly to name three random water cooler events).

In which case, why not just show that? 

The truth is most stories aren’t picture-led – producers scrabbling around for library shots to illustrate the latest interest rate decision or select committee report can vouch for that.

So in the majority of cases the paper is asking readers of a 500-word article to click and watch 90 seconds of video consisting of a 270-word script, at most, and some ‘wallpaper’ images.

If you want to watch high quality news analysis on video there are other sources including, dare I say it, from my former employer. And if you want water cooler there’s YouTube.

There’s definitely a gap for providing Indy-style reporting in video form. Unfortunately, this isn’t it.

(Kind of) related:
Five Ways News Organisations Should Use Twitter
 – The Guardian, Daily Telegraph and BBC: Lessons in Crowdsourcing
 – Scarcity, Abundance And The Misapprehension Of Online Advertising