When doing his best to drive a point home, one of our editors at The Post likes to quip that “multimedia is the future.” And yes, he is the The Post’s multimedia editor. And even as I sit here on my words-will-always-prevail pedestal, I have to admit that he is right.
The pressure for once print-centric newsrooms to produce video content has always been there, it has just been largely ignored, or at least considered secondary to a print reporter’s work. I am sure some stereotype-laden editor somewhere once said, “leave the video to the TV guys,” or something. Our multimedia editor, Patrick Connolly, would of course say that’s dead wrong.
The best editors I have had have encouraged me to tote a camera and video equipment on assignment, especially in breaking news situations, and I have seen interns praised heavily for their interest in storytelling in all forms — be it audio, reported words, video or photo. Still, it sometimes seems that most journalists consider that multi-faceted interest a choice, rather than our future.
In the past four weeks or so, The Post has produced dozens of web stories, but 11 videos that were published on our website, YouTube account and promoted via Twitter and Facebook. Those videos carried weight separate from our reporter’s stories — from a piece Connolly produced on the lack of gymnastics gyms in Southeast Ohio, a video by Connolly and Post freshman Hope Roberts on a student’s experience of being hearing-impaired, or a collaborative video on Ohio University Professor Jim Zhu’s project to build a flying car — it was a different take, told through a variety of mediums.
Most of that multimedia viewership is coming through social media platforms, or through our readers clicking on a video directly while already reading a related article.
That experience shooting and editing video is progressively necessary for our student journalists. In a New York Times article Connolly shared with our staff this week, Sydney Ember reports that video content generates more than 50 percent of BuzzFeed’s total revenue — and that segment could soon grow to 75 percent. Mic, a politically-focused news site, also aims to have 60 percent of the company’s focus on video, Ember reports.
And, to turn the tables a little bit, Times reporter Phyllis Corkki wrote last week that she was learning to use Snapchat to report her stories (we’re doing the same at The Post), and shared the struggle of picking up a new skill in her mid-50s. One part of her story particularly struck me: “Before the age of 30, people’s brains possess more plasticity, meaning they can learn more easily.”
That means staffers at The Post have to start learning now — fast. So I guess it is about time we all address multimedia as our future, and chug along (as we have been all year) in deftly adding to what we have known, with what we must learn.
Emma Ockerman is a senior studying journalism and editor-in-chief of The Post. Want to talk to her? Tweet her @eockerman or email her at email@example.com.