Why are there no user video blogs in newspapers?

We’re blind.

Or stupid.

Great local content is staring newspapers in the face … and we can’t see it. Or we choose not to see it.

Hundreds of thousands of videos are uploaded daily on YouTube. Every MINUTE of every day, ten HOURS of new video is uploaded, YouTube says.

In one month alone (January 2008), nearly 79 million viewers, or a third of all online viewers in the U.S., watched more than three billion user-posted videos on YouTube, according to Fortune.cnn.com.

That’s a ton of content.

And you’d be surprised how much of it is local.

Yes, there is lots of garbage and stuff we can’t touch due to copyright violations or good taste, but take a look at the results (chart on the left) of my one-day survey of local videos posted on YouTube today, this week, and this month:

Even if a measly 10 percent of the videos are terrific, that’s still dozens or hundreds of pieces of local content newspapers are not publishing today.

I checked out a couple days’ worth of the videos posted about Washington, D.C. in April: the D.C. Youth Outreach Fashion Show, an IRS protest (The Post had a story and pics but no video), the Man of Strength Award (a D.C. kid honored by Men Can Stop Rape for fighting violence against women and registering youth voters), the Filipino Festival, the speech of an Iranian princess, video of D.C. mail delivery circa 1903, a TC Williams High School Choir concert, a street trumpeter, a nutrition class for DC kids, etc.

Why do newspapers ignore or turn their noses up at this content? Beats me.

Editors can’t use their favorite excuse for not publishing bloggers (“it’s not professional or necessarily accurate and they could damage our credibility” – all the while ignoring the fact that THEY could choose which blogs to publish).

No, video is pretty straightforward. Videos are, with rare exceptions, a pure record of an event.

It’s free, it’s local, it’s often creative, and, most importantly, it speaks to the lives of real people, especially the folks we’re not reaching with our websites or our newspapers.

Publishing local video bloggers would be like having dozensof additional eyes on the street.

So let’s start publishing local user-generated videos on our newspaper websites. And not in the ghettos where we hide local bloggers. Put them on the theme-appropriate pages: local news videos on the news pages, sports on sports, entertainment on entertainment, etc.

And then let’s get crazy and put screen grabs of the best local videos in in the newspapers themselves. Again, in the theme-appropriate sections.

If we don’t do it, someone else will.

If local TV stations ever wake up, they will realize this is their turf and they will start putting UGC videos on their websites and broadcast them on their news programs. We will rue the day we missed our chance.

Go for it, folks. Today. Before it’s too late.

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4 responses to “Why are there no user video blogs in newspapers?

  1. Pingback: According To John » Blog Archive » Why no UGC video blogs in newspapers?

  2. Actually, The Freedom Communications group, which has more than 30 newspaper websites, has user generate blogs and videos on each site and this has been available for over a year. Believe it or not, people dont use them… Interesting none-the-less but take a look at OCRegister.com as an example. They are doing that and have for some time.

  3. Hi, Mark,

    You’re right about the OCRegister.com. User-submitted videos right there on the home page!

    One guess for the lack of traffic would be that the Register may not be promoting those videos in the newspaper itself. I found at BostonNOW that the blogs and vlogs we promoted in the newspaper did much better than those we just promoted on the website.

    John

  4. Hey John, glad to see your blog.

    I wonder, though, how you would be able to convince the bigger conglomerates to allow UGC to be displayed prominently not only on their sites but also in their papers. There are quite a few papers that are merely children under a corporate parent, who takes a homogeneous approach to their papers/websites (see: Gannett).

    The Asbury Park Press of New Jersey and the Tennessee Daily News Journal have very similar websites but wholly different papers/markets. And there’s usually not a whole lot of control the “local” webmasters have over their sites.

    It’s tougher for them to change.

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