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Newspaper Sites Competing With In-House and Reader Produced Video

Published on May 10, 2012

Newspaper websites have been weak on the rich media content that attract visitors. But a select few are venturing into over-the-top broadcasting, producing video on par with their TV competitors, reports Diana Marszalek of TVNewsCheck. The websites for the Denver Post, Boston Globe, the Twin Cities’ StarTribune, SeattleTimes and Louisville’s Courier-Journal are all moving into in-house-produced video content. And they are attracting talented journalists, like DenverPost.com’s Anne Herbst, a national Edward R. Murrow award winner.

“The good news from my perspective is that content is king, not the medium any longer,” said Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Chairman Kevin Benz in an interview with TVNewsCheck. That enabled the StarTribune.com, a newspaper website, to win regional Emmy awards. A Boston.com (the Boston Globe website) video series on the late Senator Ted Kennedy was similarly up for a national Emmy.

And content drives traffic: StarTribune.com enjoyed a 297% increase in videos played from April 2011 to April 2012, though the paper did not detail how that translated into dollars. Presumably, it is a strong case-builder for display advertising.

Local papers will not have quite the budgets the manpower or budgets to become ersatz TV stations, but they can meet the trend halfway. Digital First Media last week announced that it would launch 12 new community newsroom projects, to build upon the success of the Newsroom Café launched by the Register Citizen in Torrington, Conn. The Café was an experiment that led to the Register Citizen being named the 2011 Innovator of the Year by the Associated Press Media Editors.

All of its Denver outlets, including The Daily Camera, dailycamera.com, BuffZone.com and BoCoPreps.com in Boulder, Colo., are planning a variety of community engagement approaches, including enabling local residents to upload video they shoot of sporting events, or of recording sessions for local bands in the “Camera Garage studio.”

That content will not have the quality of, for example, a story produced by Herbst for DenverPost.com; it will lean more toward the iReports on CNN.com. But in time, it should be a boon to newspapers that rely in display, search and targeted ads.