As proven by the buzz surrounding Facebook Live and Periscope, there’s no denying the growing power and importance of video to storytelling.

A digital tool used by an increasing number of GateHouse Media’s newsrooms is Tout, a mobile app that can be used for quickly shooting, editing and uploading short videos to both social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter, and “pairing” them with online news stories.

I asked a handful of editors from some of GateHouse’s top Touting newsrooms why they have embraced the app and how their teams have found success with it.

Quick coverage

With Tout, anyone with the app instantly becomes writer, director, cameraperson and editor. Reporters don’t need to bring a team of folks along for shooting, or spend hours editing a video and connecting it to a story.

“It’s good for quick interviews or to show live events such as accident scenes and City Council meetings,” noted Steve Hunt, editor of the Barstow Desert Dispatch and Victorville Daily Press. “It’s especially useful for prep sports as our writers can provide quick interviews with players and coaches, as well as video highlights of game action.”

Jim Konrad, executive editor of The (Norwich) Bulletin, considers Tout “a great supplement to text and photo coverage.”

“We often use quotes from Tout interviews in stories,” Konrad said. “It allows viewers to see the person speaking, or to see first-hand the ravages of a fire or the cute kittens running about.”

“There’s very little that doesn’t in some way lend itself to Tout videos. We’ve used them in breaking news situations, video interviews to go with features stories and sports events for pre-game and sideline-type interviews, some action and often post-game interviews,” said Mike Klocke, editor of The (Stockton) Record.

Fast uploading

Aside from the ease of shooting, another key to Tout’s usefulness to newsrooms is its ease and speed of editing and uploading videos once they’ve been shot.

“I cannot say enough about how quick and easy using Tout is,” said Cyndi Brown, managing editor of the Jacksonville (North Carolina) Daily News. “Other video players we’ve used on our site came with significant editing and upload times followed by the added steps required to embed them in our articles. Tout is literally point and shoot followed by a couple of taps on the app to upload the video to the site where it automatically matches with the related article.”

Konrad echoes Brown’s point about the speed of the uploading process.

“During some bad weather this week I was moving very slowly in highway traffic. I was able to take a Tout video about the experience, use voice to text to give it a headline and upload it in about two minutes,” Konrad said. “Our reporters and photographers can do the same from any site at any time, with little sacrifice to their other duties.”

Top Tout Tips

When I asked our editors for their best Tout advice, almost all mentioned that at least in the beginning, it’s OK to sometimes think about quantity over quality.

“Shoot everything and anything of interest and leave it to editors to determine whether it’s worth keeping,” said Lee Cochran, managing editor of ThisWeek News. “It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.”

As with any new tool, getting your newsroom on board is another important factor for success.

“We started using Tout at the Telegram & Gazette in February,” said Executive Editor Karen Webber. “Reporters are being trained in small groups to allow for follow up and feedback.”

Konrad suggests that “the newsroom’s top people put Tout on their phones and show the staff how easy it is. Our reporters and photographers are told they need to have a reason that they didn’t shoot video at an assignment, not why they should.”

“You just have to make it a habit,” Hunt explained. “Once it becomes a habit, you’ll find yourself using Tout much more than you expected because it is so easy to add layers to your reporting.”

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