TowCenterColumbia’s Tow Center for Digital Journalism is producing some important research on upcoming trends in online media, like news video, sensor journalism and longform.

Its most recently released report, “Video Now: The Form, Cost, and Effect of Video Journalism,” highlights the video strategies of popular digitally native publishers like Mashable and NowThis News, longform outfits including Vice Media and Frontline PBS, and legacy papers like the Washington Post and the Chicago Sun-Times, over a five-month period. More than 50 newsrooms were examined during the research for this paper.

Study facilitator and assistant professor at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, Duy Linh Tu set out to answer three main questions:

  • How do news organizations define video?
  • How do they produce video?
  • What is their return on investment? (ROI)

Now for what Linh Tu found: metrics across newsrooms aren’t very reliable. Typical measurements like plays and page views “are inconsistently measured across organizations,” so the report features mostly editor interviews rather than sheer numbers. The answer to digital video is that there is no answer — at least not now. Publishers are finding it difficult to capitalize on this new medium while bringing in the advertising support they need to produce quality content. In other words, there isn’t a ton of data out there on video ROI that inspires trust in marketers with limited budgets.

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