Lesson at a Glance
One Big Takeaway: To implement a digital video mindset on your team, think about the videos you’re publishing differently. Strive for a balance of ‘raw’ videos for breaking news and polished videos for stories with longevity.
Top 2 Best Practices to Keep in Mind:
- For ‘raw’ ongoing news: Update as often as possible, starting with the core facts and progressing to media, imagery, and quotes as the story progresses.
- For ‘ longer-tail news: Involve team members across your organization to expand the video’s reach and integration with other news initiatives.
Achieving a Digital Video Mindset
Mario R. García is an American newspaper and magazine designer and media consultant. An expert in mobile storytelling and transformation of newsrooms for the digital world, García has collaborated with over 700 publications like The Wall Street Journal, Gulf News, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Handelsblatt. García presented at the Digital Video Accelerator, a 6-week, 6-class pilot program in Buenos Aires, Argentina for 25 news publishers on developing a digital video strategy.
García’s presentation walked through two basic ideas:
- The importance implementing a digital mindset across the entire business.
- How to apply that mindset to two basic forms of digital video content — raw news videos for breaking and developing stories; and polished, long-tail videos built for longevity.
Over the next several weeks, we’ll be sharing our lessons learned here from these in-person sessions.
1. Shifting the mindset
Here are some of Garcia’s tips and resources to achieve a digital mindset that provides users both raw and fully developed video.
- Sometimes it’s very difficult to innovate from your primary news brand. Start innovating on your smaller brands with more creative freedom — or create new products and sub-brands from the ground up. Doing so lets you truly think outside the box on how to captivate audiences. An example of this is The Lyly from The Washington Post.
- Dr Christian Fortanet published a study that helps us understand how information is consumed on mobile devices today. Learn more here.
- Team up with those who’ve already bought into the power of a digital video mindset. Encourage them to experiment and open the hierarchy of your newsroom to add new roles. One role to turn to first: the Content Manager.
- Do you want a free and online masterclass on how to create videos for digital platforms? A must-see: Robb Montgomery, Smart Film Book.
2. Creating raw videos for breaking and developing news
A news cycle that’s still in development can last several hours. Readers will want to follow along as the story unfolds. Publish your video online as early as possible. Update it as often as you can. Here are a few best practices García recommends:
- Publish a quick explanatory video first. Be brief and use the following concepts as you open up your news story: What we know / What we do not know / What is going to happen.
- Be straightforward and draft your video’s storytelling linearly. You want to minimize shooting and editing time and update your users as quickly as possible.
- Update your article accompanying the video often. At the very least, add media: Photos, GIFs, curated videos from sources. Not updating regularly is the “kiss of death” according to García. Keep in mind that people return all the time to your site in search of new data.
- Add visuals to your video your news story progresses. Add text overlay for extra context, imagery or b-roll where it’s helpful, and even voiceovers with additional information if you can.
- As your story progresses, consider experimenting with longer and more produced videos of 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Creating more polished videos, built for longevity and lasting impact
The digital news space can move at hyper speed. News stories can come and go. Sometimes, taking a step back can lead to videos that are more fully developed for a longer-lasting impact. These are longer form, more in-depth videos not necessarily tied to an immediate news event.
For these kinds of stories, García recommends a few ways on how best to approach your video creation:
- If you’re creating a more developed video with longevity, create a distribution plan alongside it. Organize mini-workshops with key stakeholders from across your teams: the content manager, the journalist in charge, the editor and marketer. Exchange ideas on how to distribute your video and how to incorporate it into other ongoing news initiatives.
- Experiment with storytelling approaches. Consider using the first person in your narrative, for instance. The personal nature of social networks like Facebook has greatly influenced this. News with a first-person slant today is a genre in itself. This opens the door for the author and user to connect from new points of view. Your story will more likely trigger discussion; the content is more likely to be shared. Involve the journalists behind the story and encourage them to share their work through social media.
- Reporters can (and should) record their own videos. Do not expect studio-level quality. The videos don’t have to be perfect! The straightforwardness of your reporters’ videos will lend an authentic quality to the story.
The Video Accelerator Program
The Facebook Journalism Project’s Video Accelerator Program helps news publishers create excellent video and build sustainable business models that work. Funded and organized by the Facebook Journalism Project (FJP) in collaboration with the International Center for Journalists, each Accelerator includes hands-on workshops led by news industry veterans and coaching from industry experts. Catch up on all the lessons from the Video Accelerator here. For monthly updates on the Accelerator Program, sign up for the FJP newsletter.