Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Syndicates: Getting the Picture with Video Columns

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Syndicates: Getting the Picture with Video Columns

Article excerpt

Jason Love says when he appears in public, "I go as a newspaper person, but I'm perceived as being from television." That's because Love is one of a growing number of newspaper print columnists who also do a video column.

And while the video column is a relatively new phenomenon, it's already inspiring a variety of sub-genres.

For instance, Love often takes a humorous, participatory approach to new experiences in his video column for The Ventura County (Calif.) Star. His videographer, Anthony Plascencia, has shot hours of footage showing Love in the ring as a boxer, learning to salsa dance, training to be a circus clown, and even taking the SATs long after his high-school days were over. "My math skills really deteriorated," he lamented.

Then, each video is cut down to about five minutes before the finished product -- complete with a script by the self-syndicated columnist -- is posted on JasonLove. com and VenturaCountyStar.com. Love, who began doing the videos in 2002, now comes up with a new one every two or three weeks.

Mike Leonard of The Herald-Times in Bloomington, Ind., does two videos (along with three print columns) a week. But his "Mice Space" online spots, which began last fall, are not as "produced" as Love's. Often, Leonard will simply look straight into the camera for two or three minutes and offer comments on quirky or slice-of-life topics. "I try to keep it humorous," he said. "There's enough hard news and information out there."

In one video on HeraldTimesOnline. com, Leonard made deadpan remarks inspired by the stupidity of selling camouflage clothing for children -- who, if they wandered off, would be harder to find in that kind of outfit. Leonard wryly offered such tongue-in-cheek tips for keeping kids safe as, "don't tie a pork chop around your child's neck to make the dog play with him."

The Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram's Dave Lieber, who often takes what he calls a "storytelling" approach in his approximately-three-minute videos, also began doing them last fall -- but that was actually a relaunch. He first posted video columns in 1997 after getting the idea from Dennis Rockstroh of The San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, but stopped creating them after more than two years partly due to the frustration of dealing with mostly dial-up modems. These days, of course, many computers handle video easily and newspapers are clamoring for more Web content -- whether it be blogs, podcasts, animated editorial cartoons, or video cols.

Lieber's video audience has watched him interview a rodeo announcer, focus on kids helping senior citizens, and show how a landscaper and others helped keep up the property of a Texan serving in Afghanistan. He even did a video showing his son in a mock-run for governor of Texas.

The columnist, who works with videographer Christopher Gomersall, posts the videos on his personal YankeeCowboy.com site as well as on Star-Telegram.com.

Video columns by Lieber and others periodically end up on YouTube, too. …

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