Short and punchy: How TVNZ and MediaWorks are using snackable content to tell news stories

Snackable content doesn’t need to be trivial and can help tell the big news stories of the day according to rival media companies, TVNZ and Mediaworks.

While “snackable content” is often criticised for offering an instant treat with no real sustenance, TVNZ’s editor of content Graeme Muir rejects such claims by pointing out that big news stories can also be delivered in accessible bite-sized pieces.

“We have the stuff that our team send in that is part of telling the story,” Muir says. “During the Dunedin floods, Mark Hathaway filmed on his Iphone a pan of the main road in Dunedin that was inundated with water and cars trying to get out. On that day the video did really well.”

Muir says this example shows how short-form video can complement the major news stories of the day and he says TVNZ journalists are encouraged to send back short-form video while they are out in the field collecting their stories.

Mediaworks head of digital News Jono Hutchison agrees short-form video can be used to tell important news stories but media organisations need to think about how they can add value by analysing the events of the day.

“A range of stories can be told in short-form,” Hutchison says. “However, news organisations like us can add value by providing context, curation and insight into the stories It’s important to know which stories short-form video is suitable for and which require a different treatment.”

Mediaworks is constantly looking at ways to exploring new ways of delivering content to their audience, says Hutchison. One recent example he gives is a short video posted to TV3’s Facebook page of five points on the TPP.

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

Simply sharing a huge volume of video doesn’t necessarily mean such content will be successful, however, and Muir says the TVNZ team puts a lot of emphasis on hooking people in to good short-form video.

“You can publish as much video as you like but unless you have the right headline and the right image that goes with it, it can bomb. These headlines are different from those in Newspapers. They are also different from what we would do on One News at 6pm. They are purpose-built for the online audience and we think that’s a key driver behind a lot of the success we’ve had recently with video.”

Hutchison says the focus in delivering short-form content needs to be all about the small device often residing in trouser pockets or handbags.

“We know that short-form videos are increasingly consumed on mobile devices, so ensuring the content is suited to this is critical. 

The content needs to grab your immediate attention, be succinct and provide the information you need in order to understand the story.”

Muir says while the television broadcaster felt confident with their place in the traditional form of linear tv programming with one news, more needed to be done to boost their online content which started with a better website.

“We realised we had this clunky, awful website [that was]really hard for our teams to work with. It wasn’t a great user experience either. We needed a much faster content management system. We wanted to convert more One News watchers.”

The introduction of One News Now represented on effort by the broadcaster to focus on breaking events so people could be constantly informed about what was going on.

Muir says TVNZ also realised the need to respond to the extraordinary growth in social media and its popularity for users to share content with their own networks.

“60 percent of our video streams are coming via Facebook.”

While short-form might be seen as the future, Hutchison says there isn’t a set balance between short-form content and longer-form content more suitable for traditional broadcast and this is constantly changing.

“Much of our notable video content often begins online, and becomes part of our linear broadcast content – in terms of the proportion, it changes day to day.

We’re always looking for ways to utilise engaging, informative content online and ensuring our TV audiences see major stories that have broken on other platforms.” 

Picking which videos would prove popular and go viral isn’t easy as Muir reflects on an unexpected video hit which came from TVNZ’s extensive archive of old video footage with 21,000 views.

See an example here.

“We have a really rich archive going right back. We are seeing more and more it can really help online.”

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