11/07/2013 12:58 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Video, Newspapers and Social Media


U.S. newspapers see an online business model that includes more video and active social media engagement.

As a 2012 Thought Catalog piece proclaimed, "Video may have killed the radio star, but..." Donna Peterson went on, "...the Internet killed, well, pretty much everything else." Before I completely buy into this recent twist on The Buggles' 1979 premise, let me tell you about what is happening.

American newspapers, slow to respond to the Web in the 1990s, slow to learn from cable television and erect pay walls from the start, and slow to see the impact of social media, now are moving ahead on all fronts.

In most markets, newspapers have had an Internet problem. Local TV news shops were early adopters of streaming video -- even before the compression technologies and online speeds made it useful for most site visitors. Online sites were a natural place to re-purpose video, and by 2005 YouTube made the value clear. Local TV makes a lot of money from local and national advertising sales, not to mention the political advertising cycles. For TV, online simply offered additional channels. It was not that difficult to step back and write print stories for the Web.

Most newspapers stumbled into convergence and video a few years ago. Now, they are getting help from new networks, such as NDN.

The NDN splash page tells the story. "Better than free. Premium, real-time content. Global reach. Optimized revenue. All at no cost." NDN calls this "The Digital Media Exchange," which is "100,000 videos per month, 800 premium providers and 4,500 trusted publishers."

Content creators, which include local and national TV, are offered a platform for "showcasing video," through national reach.

The key is pre-roll advertising, those 15- and 30-second spots you see running in front of the video users want to see. These deliver eyeballs to local and national advertisers -- including the desired young target audiences -- and revenue sharing to content creators.

All of this is designed to keep people at websites longer ("92 minutes of video consumed by unique viewers each month") and turn the online world into a more successful commercial venture. For people in the news business, it is a path to transition from the old world of journalism to online.

For this to work, video must fit within the new mobile context by offering content value that encourages users to engage and share stories across their social networks. Traditional news videos are not entertaining enough to be in this sweet spot, but expect more to be here, as we move ahead.

The larger issue for newspapers, as well as the broader world of journalism, is whether or not serious news will survive within a social media environment that is increasingly real-time, hit-and-run, marketing-driven content.