Like Harry Potter - only moreso
I am a member of a group called Carnival of Journalism.
It was founded by Dave Cohn, and is funded by the Knight Foundation.
(Even if Knight has turned me down three years in a row in their News Challenge Grant, I still don't mind participating!)
In any event, each month there is a question that all members are supposed to answer and blog about.
This month's question is:
“What is the role of online video in the newsroom of the future?“
The question is posed by Andrew Pergma
n, who is working for The Washington Post and trying to guide its digital future.
The only future for The Washington Post (and every other newspaper and magazine) is in video.
There is no alternative.
Well, there is the alternative of becoming a very expensive print only publication published for the elderly and the elite.
(see New York Review of Books - which I like a lot, by the way. But this is not a newspaper).
The future, for those who have not realized it yet, is in mobile and aps. That is, iPhones (or smart phones) and tablets - with the rest being scooped up by those who still drag around laptops and the tiny minority who will still work on desktop computers (hard to believe). All of these devices, by the way, are going to interface extremely nicely with that big plasma screen in your livingroom so the transition will be seamless. Content is king. Television is dead and so are newspaper.
We are headed for a place called Screenworld - that is, a place where everything we do, read, sense, learn, touch and order begins on a screen.
Screenworld is already here to some extent.
The average American now spends a mind boggling 8.5 hours a day staring a screens - between TV, computers and phones.
And, as I say, we are just at the beginning. We have only touched iPad2. Wait until we are at iPad17.
8.5 hours a day staring at screens means we currently spend more time staring at screens than we do working, eating, playing sports, or sleeping.
Screenwatching is now our number one activity.
If you think there may be some correlation between obesity and Screenworld life, you are undoubtedly right. We not only carry screenworld with us in our pockets, it is in our faces all the time - from Elevator TV to AirportTV to Video screens in gas stations while you pump up the car (no kidding, this really exists) - and again we are still at the beginning.
The cost of building and manufacturing screens that carry video is dropping all the time, as is the cost and complexity of creating the product to put on those screens. And the product is, of course, video. Screens demand video. You CAN put text on screens, but try watching text on your TV (try finding it!). You COULD run a text crawl on one of your 1200 cable channels, but I don't see anyone doing it. That is because, in the long run, screens abhor text. And increasingly screens are going to be dominated by more and more video because 'that is what the people want'. And the 'people' vote with their eyeballs.
The very fact that the guy who has been hired to run The Washington Post's video stuff asks the question 'what is the role of video in the newsroom of the future' has to ask that question (not that Andrew, who I have never met, but who I am sure is a very nice guy) makes me think - hmm, I should be selling whatever Washington Post stock I have right now.
But it's not his fault.
He needed a job and they are paying him - for the moment.
(But I suppose Newsweek did not go down the drain for nothing - and that was a Washington Post Company also.....Call my broker!)
OK. Andrew, not your fault, but seriously, video is the ONLY future that the newspaper has.
And they better get there fast - because everyone else is getting there even faster.
The very fact that we continue to differentiate between text and video in a newsroom makes me think that newspapers are even more dead than I thought they were. We are living in a digital world. Digital moves seamlessly from text to video to audio to blog to screen to iPhone to tweet to video again. It's all the same thing.
So Andrew, here is what I think you should be doing over at The Washington Post.
Turn all of your journalists into Digital Journalists (thank you Dirck Halstead for that term).
Give all of them the tools to become and report as Digital Journalists.
So when your reporter goes to Sudan, they take a small digital camera and a laptop.
Then, when they create (not write) their story - they capture video, sounds, as well as their own impressions.
Their piece is a tapestry of everything digital.
Doesn't this seem to make sense?
One would think so.
Then again, one would think that Borders Bookstore should still be in business.
Do you think they hired someone to ask: "What is the role of eBooks in The Bookstore of The Future"?