Editors, it’s time to rethink online video

video is your story, video storytelling

Publishers and media companies know that the best way to tell a story is through video. Online audiences want video, and it is the most effective medium for invoking emotional response and sharing information. Editors are regularly directing their teams to produce online videos alongside their written content, or in response to popular stories.

That’s a good practice to follow, as more video inventory and a stronger video presence are only benefits to an organization. But we want to challenge editors with a slightly different way of thinking. Don’t simply direct your reporters and staff to add video to their stories. Instead, realize video is the story.

This means placing video first, and using it as the primary method through which stories are crafted. A focus on video as the principle story-telling method allows your team to better develop video-specific concepts, as opposed to simply shaping video content from other elements.

Conceptualize as video

Whether the story breaking news, an upcoming event, or a fun content marketing piece, develop it as a video. Send your creators and reporters out with the objective of not just telling the story, but telling it in video form.

The writing and structure of a text-based piece of reporting is quite different from what shapes a video. In text, there’s room for more detailed information and the opportunity for a reader to easily refer back while reading. A video, on the other hand, is a direct, end-to-end experience. Extraneous information has to be trimmed for the sake of clarity and brevity.

When starting down the path of storytelling with this foremost in mind, it simplifies the process of conceptualizing a video piece. Only the information critical to this specific story is needed. It also prepares your staff for some of the practical considerations of video storytelling.

Know the visual angle

Can you visualize the story? What are the assets and imagery needed to tell it? For some stories, these answers are simple. When covering an election, for example, images and clips of candidates, supporters, and volunteers would all be useful. Other topics may not have such simple or readily identifiable assets.

When you choose or assign a story, think first about how it can be told visually, and encourage your team to do the same. Imagine if you could only tell the story with images, no text or voiceover whatsoever. While those are of course available, and you’ll certainly use them, this thought exercise forces creators to dilute the key concepts into pure visual terms.

With those in hand, you have the backbone of a story that is pure video. This foundation makes for stronger videos in the end than trying to “paste” visuals onto the structure of a written story. Consider making this way of thinking the standard among in your newsroom and on your creative teams.

The constant focus should be video

In these video-centric times, it’s simply no longer enough to think of video as something additive or auxiliary. There is and will always be a place for the written word, but video doesn’t have to be inextricably linked to that content. Video can and should stand on its own.

The videos your team crafts need to tell stories on their own, not just act to flesh them out. By approaching the storytelling process as a video-making process, you create circumstances that assist this approach.

When developing concepts and assigning stories, editors shouldn’t just consider how to tell a particular story as video. They should also think about stories that necessitate video to be fully realized.

From the first step to the last, make video the focus of your team. In choosing topics, seeking visuals, applying text or graphics – every piece of these videos should be realized from a perspective of not simply telling the best story, but of telling it best with video.

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