How media companies are telling the news in bite-sized chunks

With the global dominance of YouTube since its genesis in 2005 as a source for short-form video content, this mode of storytelling has become ubiquitous in the media industry and traditional news organisations everywhere have had to adapt to this new reality.

“Snackable content” is the marketing buzzword du jour but it also seems to have legs with media here as a means to tell the big stories of the day.

As illustrated by TV3’s recent reduction of the Trans Pacific Partnership to core elements, short-form video provides a means by which complex news stories can be delivered in an accessible format. 

There is a truckload of information about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement that has come out since it was reached early this morning (NZ time). Here are five things you need to know about the TPP:http://www.3news.co.nz/nznews/tppa-what-you-need-to-know-2015100613

Posted by 3 News on Monday, 5 October 2015

In a recent conversation with stoppress, TVNZ’s editor of content Graeme Muir argued that snackable content could be used to tell big stories of the day and gave this example of a short video taken during the Dunedin floods showing the city inundated with water. This video proved very popular online.

While viewer numbers for 6pm news broadcasts remain strong, print media has faced difficult challenges as internet usage has exploded and media consumption habits have changed.

In order to maintain relevance, international publications, such as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have adapted their offerings by incorporating short-form videos that can help tell those stories in a succinct fashion.

The Wall Street Journal’s: The Short Answer is an excellent example of short-form video as a means of providing distilled, stripped back information.

In each short segment, no longer than five minutes, WSJ reporter Jason Bellini applies the analytical microscope to an issue of the day, whether it be TPP, the geopolitics of the South China Sea or why President Barack Obama chose to slow the withdrawal of troops from a still unable Afghanistan as in the video below.

New Zealand’s two competing major news media companies, Fairfax through Stuff and NZME through NZ Herald say they both see video as a key component in telling news stories.

Asher Finlayson, head of video at Fairfax Digital in New Zealand says there is no comparison between how Stuff used video five years ago and how it does now.

He says about ten percent of stories published on the website now contain video but there is a growing emphasis on digital delivery with journalists expected to respond to the changing demands of consumers of news.

“All reporters now produce their work for the digital audience first, recognising that their growing local and national audiences are shifting the way they find and consume news and information.”

StopPress has reported on how companies leveraged off the All Blacks’ success in the 2015 Rugby World Cup to promote their wares and Stuff has attempted to do the same in its use of new media of tell news stories about the All Blacks.

This video produced by Stuff.co.nz of Air New Zealand ground crew welcoming the world cup winning All Blacks back to home soil at Auckland airport with a haka is an example of the use of the medium to amplify the way stories can be told beyond a single mode.

The ubiquity and ease of use in filming video of smartphones means reporters can file stories quickly from their hand-held devices to give news consumers faster eyewitness accounts of major stories.

This is demonstrated in the video below on the NZ Herald website showing the aftermath of a car crashing into a jewellery shop in Grey Lynn, Auckland.

Marcus Forbes, group general manager digital content at NZME, says there has also been a greater emphasis on video at the Fairfax rival with the Rugby World Cup proving an area of heavy investment.

“We are actively working to increase the volume of video content daily. We have already invested in this area and will continue to do so. An example is the amount of video content we produced for the Rugby World Cup. As many text stories had video embedded within them as possible.”

However, Forbes cautions that video must contribute to the overall narrative provided in the news story or it risks being redundant.

“But we also need to take the audience experience into account, there’s no point dumping multiple videos into stories that have no direct relevance to that story, that’s just going to annoy the audience.”

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