Bleeds? It leads! The state of Gannett’s online video

Gannett newsrooms spend untold hours, producing videos in search of new reader-viewers and the lucrative advertising that GCI hopes will follow. And that’s after the company spent a small fortune on training. Yet, I continue to receive notes from my readers, saying that viewership is abysmally low for videos except those showing fires, traffic accidents and a handful of other subjects.

“At my site,” a reader said not long ago, “there is a ridiculous amount of money and time poured into the videos, and only really good spot-news videos get a good amount of clicks. It also doesn’t help that mediocre photo editors are trying to act like video experts. If you are going to invest all that money into the equipment, why not bring in someone that knows something about video?”

So many questions!

  • How many videos does your paper or TV station produce weekly?
  • Do newsroom employees have a mandatory production quota?
  • What videos draw the most viewers — and which ones draw the fewest?
  • What did your paper or TV station give up in order to produce videos?
  • What are the CPM advertising rates for videos at your worksite?

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

Earlier: We’ve trained a million — no, a billion on video! Plus: In video of the moment, The Indianapolis Star talks to drunks!

[Photo: Sony HVRA1U C-MOS 1080i HDV Camcorder, $2,906.67 list price. I’m told this is Gannett’s preferred camera]

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18 Responses to “Bleeds? It leads! The state of Gannett’s online video”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Content is always king. If you have a good video, the viewers will come. Sure, you can spend hours and hours on a video and think “oh that didn’t pay off.” But the truth is video isn’t that difficult.

    If you’re spending that much time on a video then you either, one: don’t know what you’re doing, two: have a technical problem, or three: trying to produce gold out of iron.

    Video on the Internet is like a traffic accident. People don’t want to see a good video. They want to see cats dancing on boxes singing Britney Spears. Sadly, the latter isn’t news… at least to most people.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    $55/thousand views, minimum $660.

    Incidentally, that $660 barely covers the initial shoot and editing time and expense if we do it in-house – and if the advertiser makes any sort of changes requiring extensive work, we’ve lost money.

    Oddly enough, our local tv stations refuse to cut their commercials down to 12 seconds or less for us – like we were stealing their lunch or something.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    We get a list every day of what our viewers are clicking on. The videos are NEVER on it. There was very little training when we started and since then, many shooters have either been fired, laid off or just left. Meanwhile, pretty much anyone (no visual experience or talent necessary) that can turn the camera on can shoot. No standards. The same 32-second loud commercial runs before every video. It should be half as long.
    The local TV stations all do a better job; no surprise. Guess that’s just the extension of SCJ’s hire and promote not-ready-for-prime-time kids.
    Maybe we’ll figure it out before the company is taken private? Don’t think Ron Burkle ever got his hands on any papers, did he? Maybe he’ll scoop us up for the Zell of it?

  4. Anonymous Says:

    re: 32-second-long commercial

    In our shop, only info center staff were trained to shoot and edit video. Some of us ad designers were dying to learn a new skill but we didn’t get the training or the software. I volunteered to learn on their machines but apparently we can’t be spared from our important duties of making sure the 2adpro process works. Our video editors won’t soil themselves by touching ad content. So the video ads stay long and loud.

    They’re spending tons of money to train reluctant info center staff on the new tech. And info center gripes and complains. In production we’re begging to learn new things to save our jobs and we’re ignored as usual.

    Related rant. A couple of us do freelance web design work. Do you think that maybe info center would consider us to be valuable voices when it comes to good ways to design new online sections? No. We’ve tried a few times to offer input/advice (we still have a few places on our site where we have design leeway) when new sections were being developed. But every suggestion is ignored, and the editor pats us gently on the head and sends us back to sit with the un-anointed ones in production. Because someone who was a courts reporter for 10 years is obviously a much better web designer then someone who designs for a living, right? If we are are going to turn our company around we have to stop thinking that one person is smarter and more capable than another just based on the department they work in.

    Sorry for the length and if I spelled anything wrong but I just had to get that off my chest on behalf of the red headed stepchildren of production.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    8:09 good comments. You seem like a dedicated pr0-active employee. Keep making your case to your manager. You should be allowed to learn something new that benefits both you and Gannett. I hope you have a manager who will listen.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Q. What did your paper or TV station give up in order to produce videos?

    A. Journalistic integrity, quality, tons of cash and manpower

  7. Jim Hopkins Says:

    8:09: Unfortunately, it sounds like you’ve got a very backward-thinking newsroom. Please don’t give up; we need folks like you!

  8. Anonymous Says:

    I’m at a community newspaper.

    * Videos: 20ish per week.
    * Quotas: Allegedly.
    * Content: Sports videos, by far.
    * What did we give up: Turned two copy editors into video editors, bought three HD cameras at $1500 each, spent another $3000 or so on software and hardware.
    * AD rates: I don’t think we have ads.

    I’d say we get 1,500 video plays per day in all. The top video is in the 400-hit range.

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I’m a reporter. I love video. I think it can be something readers learn to enjoy.

    My newspaper pretends to care. It doesn’t. “Training” consisted of a one-on-one session with the video editor. She showed me how to turn the camera on, how to assemble a tripod, how to eject the tape.

    No discussion on CONTENT, which is key.

    I became so frustrated with the system that I bought my own camera, bought my own laptop that’s powerful enough to edit video, bought my own software (“We don’t have enough licenses,” the newspaper people told me) and even learned how to upload remotely.

    My videos now are the gold standard at our shop. I get the most hits by a wide margin. I can’t say they’re the most cinematic productions in history, but I talk with TV reporters and get tips from them about how to make the stuff sing.

    I love receiving praise from my EE, who pretends like he was behind me all along. I savor those moments.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    The camera pictured is too professional-looking to be a part of the Gannett kit.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Not sure of the quotas at my site but big numbers over quality is how video is perceived.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    If Gannett would dump as much money into mobile as they have web video, they might actually catch up to the culture curve and lay the groundwork for a future online profit margin. Reality: There’s no money in web video. It forces people to be stationary and not in control in a place where they’re used to being in total control. You can’t flip through video headlines because they take too long to download. Text still rules the day.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    Our pre-roll is a flat $1,250/mo. I sell ads for our site, and there’s been a big push for us to sell more video. It’s just not worth it for the number of views they get.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    4:12, GCI will continue to dump more money into video, it has been a disaster from the start, back and forth with which types of cameras and editing software to use. I have never seen such wasteful blind spending.

  15. Adam Says:

    Seriously? The way this company will turn around is when people learn to stop “blaming the man” and do what our forefathers did….work your ass off. Gannett has laid the groundwork to not just be a video, newspaper company, but a MEDIA company. This includes online video (ever heard of a thing called YOU tube?) with the investment in Mogulus…they have been a part of the social networking with Cozi, and now momslikeme.com. The people commenting here seem to forget that newspaper circulation is dying, so that means investing in the future. Do not just sit her and complain, that just wastes time. It doesn’t take a boss to be innovative. If the founding fathers of this country mindlessly took what England told them to do, we wouldnt be here. Grow a pair and change your enviornment, do let your environment change you.

    P.S. 26 Years Old….with my eyes on the prosperous future of Gannett.

  16. Anonymous Says:

    10:40 PM, I like your attitude. I hope you’re right!

  17. Anonymous Says:

    iMovie sucks. I love Apple, but iMovie gets confused sometimes when you try to do broadcast-style editing with it. I’d be happy with Final Cut Express, which is also cheaper than Avid. But they picked Avid so we could also use Windows computers if we needed to.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    10:33 AM
    I certainly admire your willingness to invest that much money in Gannett. I’m sure your videos are great.

    Question: How much ad revenue has the company been able to make on your creations?

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