Thinking About Online Video

Here’s the problem with journalism and online video: the internet is where broadcast news style video goes to die. Think about it, when’s the last time you watched a broadcast news style video online? If you came across the same video in a week or a month, would you feel compelled to watch it again? The answer is probably no. People like us, that is to say connected young people, aren’t watching the nightly news on TV, so why would we watch it on the internet?

There are better ways to go about video online. Here’s one I like:

Current TV is a cable network that is almost entirely composited out of viewer created content, generally 4 to 9 minute documentaries on a variety of topics. I’ve seen pods (that’s what they call them) about strangers carpooling through Facebook, a stunt pulled by Improv Everywhere, and Japanese hip-hop. It’s pretty varied, but the common thread is that they all tell good stories. It may not be newsy or timely in a classical sense, but the storytelling is usually engaging and worthy of watching several times.

Current has a series of tutorials on their website designed for helping people interested in creating pods. You can probably skip the Production Tips, it’s all stuff like the rule of thirds. The storytelling tab, however, has a wealth of great advice. Take a look at the screening room, it has a few pods that were picked up for TV and commentary by “the critic” on what made them worthy of broadcast.

I think it’s worth looking at. Be aware, though, the second pod (“Angels”) is disturbing. It’s about heroin addicts and it doesn’t pull any punches.

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