Videos, Videos, Everywhere

6 11 2011

Given ABC is one of America’s main broadcasting networks, you would expect the ABC News website to feature an abundance of video.  Sure enough, it does.  The prominence videos receive on the website can be seen by the fact the “Video” icon option comes immediately after the “Home” icon, even before “News” and “Politics”.  However, do ABC use videos on their website to accompany news stories as effectively as they could?

When going to the aforementioned “Video” section there really is an enormous amount of videos to choose from, in sections from U.S. to World and from Money to Entertainment.  However, there is one major thing that surprised me when I watched one of the news stories.  I was attracted to the headline “Man Skips Jail, Claims to be Immigrant“, but when I clicked on the video there was only the video itself and a single line summary of the story – “Jaime Alvarado avoided jail in Utah by pretending to be an illegal immigrant”.  There was no link to the written story.  This put me off the video section because although I may be interested in some stories through their video content, there are others I would rather read only so by not linking to the full story it put me off even using the video section.

The video content used by ABC is all directly taken from material used on one of their news programs.  This has its advantages and disadvantages.  On the positive side, generally the footage shown will have appeared on the television previously so the packages are of a consistently high standard and are presented by familiar reporters and presenters which tends to reassure regular viewers.  Also, if the material is considered newsworthy to appear on television it will usually cut down on the more amateur, less newsworthy material that may appear on other news sites.

On the other hand, the abundance of video material can work to their disadvantage.  An example of this is the consistency of type of material used.  In the above screenshot is the main story from ABC News (at time of writing) where Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, says relations with President Obama have become “a little frosty“.  The video which accompanies the story is a 12 minute interview from the program “This Week with Christiane Amanpour”.  One of the other main stories is of the 5.6 earthquake that hit Oklahoma.  This is accompanied by a 36 second news clip from “Good Morning America”.  A third of the main stories is of the “Ex-Penn State Coach Barred From Campus After Arrest” which has a more regular video clip of two and a half minutes.  It is better if the videos that directly accompany the stories are of similar length so the user knows what to expect.  The 12 minute interview can easily be linked to if someone has a particular interest.

Another problem ABC have with using television news material is because they are reliant on their news program footage for the website it sometimes leads to the written part of the story being updated well before the video itself.  This is shown in the Oklahoma earthquake story as the initial 36 second video clip soon becomes fairly irrelevant as more details of the story are added to the written section, but this may be overlooked if someone just watches the video.

Overall, ABC News has some very good use of video storytelling.  However, the organization of the videos where they don’t link to the written story and the inconsistency of length and type of video material means they aren’t exploiting their video potential quite as efficiently as a news broadcaster could on their website.

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6 responses

7 11 2011
Dorothy Montague

Monday, November 7, 2011

You make some strong points here about ABC’s use of video journalism. I agree that there will always be advantages and disadvantages with having an abundance of videos available on a news organization’s site. One point you made that I found particularly interesting is the fact that with many news stories, updates are often being made. It is easy and quick for the writers to edit and add changes within the copy, however this would be a different story for any video footage included with the story. As facts and statistics are developing within a story for example, people demand the most current breaking information, not an outdated report. I agree that this is definitely a factor for news outlets such as ABC to consider when deciding what stories will be enhanced by video content and which ones may be better off leaving it out.

7 11 2011
jthomp72

Yes, I think you make a good point about the video content of ABC News. To be blunt they don’t exactly have it all organized in the best manner. Maybe this is just my opinion but I find that video embedded within the stories itself are a lot more effective than stand alone video. This is just me though. I like to read text with my video in case I want more in-depth details

7 11 2011
joet228

I agreed with you about not being able to link a video to a written story. I think some things are better comprehended in written word, but I think the best thing to do is to make sure you are giving your audience options to digest information they ways they do that best. I am surprised, with a budget like ABC, that their videos on their website aren’t better organized.

7 11 2011
emeewes

And here come more similarities between ABC and CBS. It seems these two large media companies are following the same paths of mediocrity in their news coverage.

I’d pose a question, but you seemed to have covered everything in your post. So I’ll go unrelated. On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest), how would you rate ABC overall? (Social Media, Video, Audio Slideshows, Layout, etc. all included)

7 11 2011
gfisken

I’d probably go 6.5 or 7. They don’t do anything particularly badly but aren’t exceptional either. My main irritation is just with navigating the site. As BBC News is the website I go to for news, there is nothing ABC News does that measures up to their coverage in my opinion.

8 11 2011
willestep4747

I have to agree with you that sometimes it is better to view a story in written word than watching a video. I think that ABC does a good job of storytelling in their stories and they use good content most of the time. Also, you did a good job of analyzing the ABC videos website as a whole. You covered all areas of the video section and I like that you pointed out that sometimes the written part of a story would be updated, but the video would not be up to date. While that is a problem, ABC is not the only website that does that.

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