3 Approaches to Covering Disaster & Crisis with Video

3 Approaches to Covering Disaster & Crisis with Video

One more step...

 When disaster strikes, the world watches, and they watch online. Be it about the forces of nature or acts of man, disaster and crisis reporting play an important if fraught place in the news cycle. It comes as no surprise that as more and more people go online for the news that online video covering such events is a crucial source of information. In fact, in times of crisis, people flock to video.

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that following the November 2015 attacks in Paris, “the percentage of users accessing BBC News [to watch video] more than double.” Consumers seek out breaking news about disasters and crisis, and they go looking for video coverage.

The question this presents is how best to cover such tragic events in video. No one wants to take advantage of tragedy but publisher and outlets have a responsibility to their audience and the public to cover important events.

We’ve identified three common approaches to covering disaster and crisis in video, all of which can be utilized tastefully and effectively:

The Traditional Television-style Approach

This is your classic “evening news” kind of video, crafted as professional broadcast piece (even if its home is online). It may be used in actual broadcast, or hosted on a publisher’s site or YouTube channel.

This hallmarks of this type of video are a branded intro splash, voiceover for context and detail, and a variety of short soundbites. These soundbites might be interview clips from on the ground, announcements by officials, or natural audio of a scene.

This approach takes a familiar, comfortable form for viewers who are acclimated to broadcast news and functions as pure, professional coverage. You can see a nice example from BNO News here:

The Web Video Approach

This can be said to be the web-centric evolution of the traditional broadcast format. These clips are designed towards the habits and desires of online consumers and often accompany written pieces on publisher’s sites. They can be effective on social, as well.

Web video coverage lacks an intro splash, though will feature branding marks throughout. Text overlays will be used in place of voiceover so that even mobile viewers can have full context and understanding. Still photos may be used in place of or integrated alongside video footage to help build a clear timeline of events.

For anyone who regularly watches news clips online, this format is familiar and comfortable. Videos like this covering news events of all types are regular features in every Facebook feed. The familiarity and professional presentation make for a suitable fit to any kind of news coverage.

Here’s a well-crafted example from La Republicca:

The Social Video Approach

This is tact that is tailor-made specifically for social networks. A lot of people turn to social for the latest on breaking news, and this approach caters specifically to those people and their expectations.

Social video coverage lacks an intro though may feature branding throughout. It’s presented in a square format, the best choice for social (particularly Facebook) because it displays well (and noticeably) on any device. Social video coverages is also decidedly short, capping at 1 minute in length.

Social coverage is also a great place to highlight reactions and conversation. People turn to social media not just for the latest news in times of crisis, but also to share their thoughts and connect with others. Publishers can partake and encourage this conversation and connection among people by highlighting comments and discussion.

See that strategy at play in this great piece from LBC that is composed entirely of Tweets:

With these three approaches in hand, publishers and outlets have an effective toolset to meet their audience’s needs when disaster and crisis unfolds. Whether looking to connect and update on social networks, pair video with written content on your own site, or craft an all-encompassing, broadcast-style piece, you’re be prepared to keep your audience in the know.

For more about the future of journalism, read our piece about Mobile journalism: the new frontier in news video.

(This blog is based on a talk by Garrett Goodman on the Global Editors Network hackday, Rome, February 24th, 2017. See the full presentation here)

One more step...

Video creation isn’t available through mobile

See you on the big screen