editor on the verge

Online musings from the newsroom and beyond . . . by Yoni Greenbaum

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Obama video offers valuable lesson

February 5th, 2008 · 1 Comment

I’ve noticed that quite a few media/journalism bloggers have written posts about the will.i.am/Jesse Dylan produced Barack Obama music video. Bloggers from Jeff Jarvis to J.D. Lasica and Wendy Withers have posted the video and many cases written about it, mostly focusing on its political implications. While the politics of the video struck me as well, there was something else that stood out for me — a lesson for the newspaper industry.

When I viewed it for the first time I was struck; here was a great speech given by Obama after the New Hampshire primary and a musical performance by many artists that I liked, combined into a inspirational video. And the combination didn’t just work for me. According to the Viral Video Chart, since Feb 2. the video has been viewed 1,891,780 times and it is currently the number 1 ranked Viral Video.

To me, this was a powerful example of something that I think we in the newspaper industry are still struggling with. To me, the video was a great example of how both the message AND the medium are now both important. If you haven’t seen the video for yourself, take a moment and check it out:

If this was just an OK speech it wouldn’t have mattered how the video appeared and if it were a crappy video, that would have distracted from the message of the speech. To be as effective as it is, it needed to be both. And that is where I think the newspaper industry runs into trouble.

At too many newspapers, on too many websites, we worry more about the quality of the production and less about the quality of the content. And at still too many other newspapers and on too many other websites we worry more about the quality of the content and less about the production value. Thankfully, there are still other newspapers where they’ve managed to strike a happy medium and that is what I hope you take away from the Obama video.

Today newspapers need to focus on both. Perfection is not necessary, but balance is. Just keep reciting, it’s the message AND the medium, the message AND the medium.

Tags: Online · Reporting · technology · Video · YouTube

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Henry Howard // Feb 5, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Good post. I just happened to catch the video last night and it left quite an impression. The video achieved what too often is left out of news media videos: it told a compelling story.
    Too often, we’re shooting a news scene and calling it a video. Maybe it’s dramatic enough to work — a rescue from a burning home, for example. But those are in the minority.
    Once newspapers start to understand that they need to approach videos the same way that they approach well-written stories, the quality will surely increase.
    That’s my two cents.

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