News Web sites have been posting video clips for years. YouTube recently celebrated its fifth birthday. Yet it feels like journalists are still trying to do video with every story on the Web. For some, multimedia means “video” and not much else.
But video is one of many tools and it doesn’t fit right with every story. Sometimes audio with still photos (an audio slideshow) is a better choice (here’s one example). Or maybe a map is a better choice, like when you want to show where all the pot holes are in a town. We completed a map showing where all the “dangerous intersections” were located in Passaic County when I worked at the Herald News.
The choice of video should be reserved for when it will show something that you can’t describe in words. Video of a musical performance is an example. Or how about speed humps?
That’s what I did a few months ago at Millburn-Short Hills Patch. The township hired a contractor to install speed humps in several locations in town, but they were at least one inch too high. People complained.
But describing what it’s like to drive over a speed hump in words. I enlisted South Orange Patch editor Cotton Delo to video while I drove over the speed humps, narrating the adventure. I shot additional B-roll for the video and edited it all together. The final product was a much-watched video. I received comments and emails from people thinking it was a brilliant use of the medium and thanking me for the demonstration.
It’s the kind of video anyone can shoot. We didn’t use a fancy camera. It was shot on a point-and-shoot digital camera with video capabilities (this was a few months before I acquired the HD video camera). I edit video in Final Cut Express, but it could have been done in any editing platform.
But more importantly, this video showed my readers the experience of driving over the speed humps if they hadn’t had the experience.