There’s more happening at the Washington Post than Jeff Bezos. Last week, they launched two new shows to PostTV, focused on getting in depth with politics. ‘In Play,’ and ‘On Background,’ were added to the lineup to complement the ‘The Fold,’ which launched last fall, a weekly sports show and original reporting videos. You can watch the shows live, in full on the web or snack on shorter clips after they air.
I was able to get senior video editor Andrew Pergam on the phone to talk about how the shows fit into the Washington’s Post’s overall brand of journalism.
Are People Watching?
He wouldn’t get into numbers, but he assures me that yes, people are watching. What’s more important to the video team is that they create good content and grow their audience.
It was really important in creating all of this that we create content that we ourselves want to watch, and that we would want to share with other people, and grow our audience. That there’s a way to bring people into it in a different way…That was a founding principal. Video is very ‘of the web,’ this is where our audience is, let’s go meet them there.
Sharing and engaging with audiences online is also very of the web. The shows are an extension of the traditional reporting the Post is known for and with video, it’s very easy to get caught up in the obsession to go viral.
The journalism and the story is still it. That’s what we’re after. What we’re doing is creating really good journalism that on top of it all, is also ahre-able. It’s pretty important that we create journalism that matches our reputation.
What were trying to do is have an ongoing conversation with our audience. We’re trying to be as flexible as we can and figuring out what works and what doesn’t. Now we know how people are watching and how they’re engaging with it and then we can adjust accordingly.
Trial and Error
As your own organization makes moves towards creating video (and if it hasn’t, it should be), there are two things to keep in mind. The first is to actually be a part of the newsroom. Video teams don’t need to be replacements for wordsmiths:
I think everyone should be exploring video, it’s a big way that a traditional news organization can enhance its brand going forward… The Post has been successful at integrating video into the daily activity of the newsroom. We’re very much a part of this newsroom, I’m a senior editor in the newsroom, we’re in the same editorial meetings, the politics team works closely with the video team. It’s an unprecedented addition to this newsroom, as opposed to the video group being outside the newsroom, we’ve added a whole new group of journalists to the newsroom, which is very cool.
Pergam also notes that your video content doesn’t have to be perfect, though it should be authentic:
It’s important to figure out what you’re good at and what your audience can connect to…One of the things that’s attractive about the web is that it doesn’t have to be fully produced. The unfiltered, the raw, the grainy, sometimes that appeals to viewers because they feel a connection to that. Find the right voice for your operation, and be authentic. That’s what it all adds up to.
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