Digital transformation

5 ways to change workflow to add video to your news coverage

After a little girl died unexpectedly from a heart condition on her way to school, the community near Canton, Ohio, remembered her life in a vigil last month. As balloons were released — each with a message attached for her — you could hear children and parents crying. The beautiful, emotional scene was captured on video by someone from The Repository in Canton and shared online with a story.

The Repository has been using quick-hit video for years, but the newsroom now shoots dozens each week to layer on their stories. The newsroom, along with sister paper The Times-Reporter in Dover-New Philadelphia, Ohio, regularly top a list of GateHouse Media newsrooms on the amount of video shot.

Video has been used for years by news organizations to convey emotion and motion. The news industry is particularly interested in video these days because people tend to watch video on their phones, and we know mobile news consumption is growing. GateHouse Media’s largest papers now use Tout, a mobile video platform, and we plan to continue to roll it out to more of our newsrooms. Reporters shoot on their phones, and videos are linked quickly to related stories online.

Here are some ideas for incorporating video into your workflow, courtesy of Laura Kessel from The Repository and Melissa Griffy Seeton from The Times Reporter.

  1. Ensure your staff knows that video is a priority: The message needs to come from the top.
  2. Set specific expectations: You’ll need to talk about what works for your organization. Canton set an expectation of seven videos per month for each person on staff who covers anything, whether it’s sports, features or news. The Times-Reporter expects a video from every assignment. If nothing is going on, reporters are told to ask the interviewee an additional question for video. That’s “value-added” for the reader, Griffy Seeton said. In her newsroom of 12, she said everyone, including editors, is expected to shoot video.
  3. Train people and follow up: Kessel had used Tout at a previous job, so she has helped to troubleshoot issues as people learn the technology. Offer support throughout the learning process.
  4. Give credit: The Repository has a whiteboard posted with the top five video producers to give a pat on the back to those doing the most work.
  5. Constant discussion: Make video a part of conversations and planning. Griffy Seeton said editors remind people to shoot video before they leave for an assignment. Kessel added: “We encourage reporters to always be looking for stuff and to not be afraid to whip out their phones.”

In terms of video content, The Times-Reporter has shot football games, including action, interviews with coaches, promos of coverage of the big game, and plenty of non-game video at city council meetings, in court and to accompany food reviews and features. The small staff regularly produces more video than the largest newsrooms in the company.

“In a small newsroom like ours, it certainly takes a village,” she said. “But our newsroom of 12 is a prime example that numerous (videos) can be accomplished in any given week.”

Kessel said she’s been pleased with the reception in the newsroom. “It’s remarkable how our newsroom has adapted to it and found ways to use it.”


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