Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Video: "A new element to our coverage that is basically a lot of fun"

Watch the video below. Count how many times staffers refer to video as "fun."

Who would do that? Who, in their right minds, would say to themselves, "So you want me to not only write a story about something now, but go out to the scene, shoot video, bring it back here, edit it and upload it too? Sounds like fun!"

We would. And we do.

Does it increase our workload? Yes. A lot. Does it totally change how we do our jobs? Yes, it does. And one year later, are we calling it fun? Yes, we are.

How do you get people to add more work to their day, yet consider it fun? Well, you've got to have the right elements.

First, you need to make sure whatever extra work you're adding has a purpose. With video, that's easy. As staffers pointed out, video encourages accuracy in our writing, it puts a stop to accusations of us misquoting people and it makes our work more "multi-dimensional," as sports reporter Keith Dunlap put it. Dave Phillips, our cops reporter, said it lets us bring our readers "to the scene." All things considered it, video makes our work better and we all care very much about the work we do.

iMovie editing screen
Secondly, there's got to be training. Taking a camera, dumping it in someone's lap and barking orders to start producing videos is going to frighten and frustrate staffers. That's why we did a lot of training here at The Oakland Press.

JRC provided webinars to give us some basic instruction. In our own office, we expanded on that. For me, it meant I spent a lot of time teaching people how to use programs like Flipshare, MPEG Streamclip and iMovie, but it was worth my while in a variety of ways — I got to give something back to veteran staffers who have taught me so much, I got to feel like I had a role in making our whole product better and it even helped land me the spot in the ideaLab. See, there's a reason to have faith in old sayings like 'No good deed goes unnoticed.'

Flipshare editing screen
The best part about training, though, was watching as video editing began clicking for people. I would've never thought something like a subtitle or transition could put a smile on so many reporter's faces.

One year and 2,820 videos later, I'd have to say that video was the smartest and coolest thing to reach The Oakland Press in decades. I hope our readers share the sentiment!

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