— December 4, 2017
A recent article by Digiday caught my eye. It detailed the great anxiety experienced by many journalists about the overwhelming pivot to online video and noted the value of writers is no longer prioritized.
Bryan Curtis, editor-at-large for The Ringer, calls the move “humiliating,” suggesting that writers are now being replaced by TV anchors.
It seems during this shift to video, people are failing to ask a critical question: Why can’t publishers have both great written content and engaging video?
Though video has the opportunity to engage a lot of people, it is made better when accompanied by great writing.
Video isn’t going anywhere. It’s growth as a digital advertising vehicle is more than enough to justify its widespread implementation. But when you consider the human factor, it becomes even more of a necessity.
Video engages the human brain 60,000 times more than text. Considering the human attention span is now shorter than a goldfish’s, according to a recent research by Microsoft, it’s more important than ever to keep a user engaged and on a page. Publishers need to post engaging, exciting, and article-related video right off the bat.
But what happens once you have them there?
That’s where your editor’s world-class writing and journalism comes into play. Microsoft’s goldfish study talks about our ability to multi-task and how it has dramatically increased over the years, proving the more value you provide to your readers, the better.
Video is a key piece to the puzzle, but it needs great writing to provide context and insights to round out the experience your users are searching for.
Journalists don’t have to become experts in video. We appreciate that nobody knows the local team like the local beat writer — that’s what keeps people coming back day in and day out. Sports fans want insights from the locker room and from the owner, not generic national coverage. The local beat writer brings a perspective that cannot be obtained from afar; it’s relationship building and years with the team provide wisdom that can’t be found in a highlight.
If that knowledge and great writing is combined with actual highlights of the team, you end up with a user experience surpassing the national sports sites.
Resources are already thin for many publishers, resulting in staff being asked to do more with less. But that doesn’t have to be the case, as exciting video and great writing are not mutually exclusive.
This isn’t a black-and-white issue. Publishers don’t have to compete with video; they can use it to complement their existing content offerings. Not every newsroom has the resources of a The Washington Post or New York Times, but that shouldn’t stop you from providing high-quality, engaging video content complementing your existing articles.
Quality video has been shown to keep people on site and, in many cases, even attract them. But in the end it’s the writing your publication will be known for.