In the ongoing quest to find a good model of newspapers in the digital age, I want to address two failed brainchilds: the audio slideshow and the narrated video.
According to a reliable inside source who cannot be named, apparently many newspapers think that audio slideshows and narrated videos are the way to go in terms of producing digital content. An easy way to note this trend would be to go to nytimes.com or boston.com.
I think they are wrong. I mean, I don’t think it’s bad to make audio slideshows and narrated (edited) videos, but compared to the labor and time involved, it isn’t worth it. I know I shouldn’t base things on my preferences, but even I don’t look at the audio slideshows. When it comes to demographics, I’m probably more interested in news and spending more time on newspaper websites than the normal person, so if I don’t want to spend time listening to an audio slideshow, I think that says a lot.
It’s the same with narrated videos. The videos produced by newspapers are still crappy compared with TV and with both slideshows and videos, they rarely stand alone, being only complementary to the main (text) article content.
Solutions? People want more AV content, it’s true, but we want to eat by ourselves, not be fed with a spoon. Instead of wasting time making a slideshow, newspapers should just provide a captioned photo gallery where people can flip through the photos at their own pace.
Poor quality videos are discouraged. And what is with using reporters who just can’t speak? I’m sure some people like it, but I’d prefer a narrator who has more experience. The only reason I’d want to waste/spend time watching a video would be for a travel narrative (like Seth Kugel giving a tour of Brooklyn). What I would like to see (and it really isn’t out there) is behind footage of the reporting process for major articles, but that would probably take a lot of resources and extensive editing.