Homers greek epic of The Odyssey tells the tale of Odysseus and his journey to get back home to his beloved Penelope. The tale talks about the Sirens, creatures who lured sailors to their deaths with enchanting music and voices. So transfixed would sailors be, that they could not see the piles of dead bodies at the siren’s feet. Lured by enchantment, not seeing what really lay ahead.
Newspapers themselves have been on an odyssey too. Trying hard to get back to profitability. Journeying through trials and tribulations to find their futures. Those trials have led newspapers to video. A new and exciting way to develop your brand and your audience.
While this is an exciting and must needed outlook for newspapers to take, it has exposed a lack of understanding about what video really means for them. I’ve read story after story about mass layoffs in newsrooms. People being fired in order to make way for production teams and videographers. A return to the story a year or six months later reveals that all is not going to plan. People aren’t engaging or poor productions expose a lack of understanding about what creating digital video actually means.
The strategy, it seems, takes a backseat to layoffs. Valuable journalists who skill, local knowledge and beat reporting are forced out. If newspapers want to survive they need to create viable strategies in order to survive. These strategies need to be all-encompassing. Look at your data. Where are you getting the most hits on your sites? What is your demographic? What is your social media strategy to promote the end product? And so on.
How have Editors been educated to deal with video? What really seems to stand out is that editors now need to understand the difference between what will make good viewing and what will make good column inches. Knowing the difference is a key knowledge set that must be adapted to the modern newsroom.
What is key in all of this is the audience. There needs to be a twofold strategy. What can you give your audience now and who will be your audience three years. Burrowing down into trends and data is not a maybe anymore, it is an essential part of the video production of the future.
The lure of video is a powerful one. One which all newspapers must listen too. But with the right strategy and preparation, they can avoid the needless fate of regretting endorsing change within the newsroom.
Newspapers are no longer just newspapers, they are media organisations. Purveyors of media under a single title. This requires discernible and implementable strategies which allow everybody to see a clear path. Video is important but only when it’s done right.
This a long haul, an odyssey. A journey of understanding and knowledge gathering. Video can be a real catalyst for change. But beware the sirens of video, do it right before you end up at its feet.