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Artistic videojournalism (two examples)

September 29, 2009

Some artistic journalism, which I called for more of a while back:

Found via A Time to Get, where you should check out a link in the comment thread about what happened after this guy escaped. The video and story are somewhat tragic, but represent well-done human interest journalism.

This second one is one of ours, done by my former coworker, Andrew Dally for our site on King County (Wash.) transportation issues. Regional transportation isn’t the first thing I’d think of when dreaming up good subjects for videojournalism, but Andrew makes it look good:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. September 29, 2009 10:58 am

    Wow these are two great finds, Paul.

    The first you can imagine as a 90 second light package on a local news network: quirky intro then a heavily voice-overed film, probably with an interview of the guy stuck in the lift and someone who owned the building. Does that even come close to telling us what he went through for *40 hours*? Not in the slightest. But you find the producer with the balls to run that 3 minute vid as-is, despite the fact it would have a greater impact on the audience.

    And the second piece is excellent too. Another example of why we don’t need to hear or see a reporter droning on in shot. Every sequence has been thought out and remixed and the footage is beautiful. The result: I’ve never heard of the town featured, or care about its transportation issues, but I watched the whole thing through.

  2. September 29, 2009 1:02 pm

    This is exactly my argument for artistic news, too: “…I’ve never heard of the town featured, or care about its transportation issues, but I watched the whole thing through.” I know it takes extra time to produce, but if good looking news is going to increase time on site (time spent watching videos, whatever), isn’t it worth it?

    The thing I especially like about No. 1 is its viral/timeless quality. I could’ve watched this video last week, yesterday or five years from now and it would still have the same impact. The problem with news right now is that its shelf life is extremely short. Taking a more artistic approach seems to me one way of increasing the chances that a news piece will be passed around days, months, years down the road.

  3. September 30, 2009 1:26 am

    Both these videos are beautiful. The first particularly so – it doesn’t just tell the story, it shows what it was really like. There’s so much empathy there, and the absence of a traditional reporter figure means there’s nothing to get between the viewer and the man who’s stuck. It’s very moving and very human and very real.

    I like the point you’ve made too about its timelessness. So often in newsgathering we end up focussing on the new, the now, the facts – but that video removes all context apart from the opening slides, which makes it both immediate and universal. It takes a story that could be very location- and time-specific and makes it relevant to everyone.

    Plus it’s not all that often that we get to say news is beautiful. It should happen more.

  4. September 30, 2009 3:20 am

    This is very refreshing stuff. I’m a stills guy in the process of becoming a motion capture guy and so I’m ready to learn.

    I want to use stills in my videos and so I hope to figure out an artistic way of using my stills as b-roll which means capturing the audio independently.

    As yet, I don’t have all the gear I need but I’m getting there. Hopefully by Christmas I’ll be fully kitted out to tell stories from south London.

    Thanks for this, Paul.

  5. September 30, 2009 11:02 am

    @Mary – I don’t want to bash broadcast journalists too much, but there is an element of “on a date with your mom supervising” at work—how are you supposed to have this visceral connection with the subject of the story when there’s another person moderating the whole thing? (Never mind the Ron Burgundy-like puns and overall goofiness that some broadcasters embody.)

    @Paul – Funny you should mention that—Andrew did another video for us a while back (also on transportation) where he mixed stills with video.

  6. September 30, 2009 12:04 pm

    There seems to be a move towards a sort of full-screen journalism on the web – perhaps partly because of the audio issues online? It’s refreshing to be shown rather than told what the story is.

  7. September 30, 2009 12:17 pm

    I agree (though I’m not really sure what “audio issues” you mean).

    I think another thing to consider is that the whole idea of an anchorperson, or at least the whole anchorman persona/reporting style, was to give you a “buddy”—someone you could relate to—to sort of personalize the news. That idea is a little passé in light of social media, given that you can choose who your buddies are or create virtual “buddies” (i.e. Google Reader) that deliver your news to you.

  8. September 30, 2009 12:33 pm

    Audio issues – I simply mean that a lot of people view videos at work or in other environments where sound might be blocked or turned down. Others will use state-of-the-art equipment that enhance every pin dropped. It’s hard to predict what your users will be able to listen to, so simple tends to work for everyone whereas complicated or wordy voiceover tends not to.

  9. September 30, 2009 12:35 pm

    Very good point.


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