Hello. My name is Michael Theis, and I am addicted to politics. No doubt, this election season has been like heroin for me. Really good heroin. The collapse of Guilliani, the comic relief of Ron Paul, Mike Gravel, and Dennis Kuicinich, the death and resurrection of John McCain, the rise of Obama, the struggles of Clinton, and the inability for the press to handicap this race beyond the next few days have made this campaign the most entertaining of my young life.So, coming home tonight, I didn't have to think too hard before deciding my daily post would combine my two loves: Video & Politics.
Tonight we'll take a spin through the journo-sphere of the 4 states participating in todays primary's to see what the various newspapers are doing in terms of video coverage of the elections.
Our first stop is the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the largest newspaper in Ohio. It was a bit hard to find their multimedia section as it was hidden on their homepage. Maybe that's not such a bad thing because their election offering was decidedly underwhelming:A talking head? A talking head?! Inexcusable. Ohio is playing a key role in setting the stage for the general election and all we get is a floating head against a black void!? Was it too hard to take a camera down to a few polling places for some man on the street? What about voters facing inclement weather? Am I missing something? At least they let me embed their video.
Moving onto Texas we take a look at the Dallas Morning News, a pioneer in online video. I was pleased with their selections. 3 videos relating to the election were up on their multimedia page. I particularly liked their coverage of a Hillary campaign stop at a local restaurant. It's a video that highlights the strengths of newspaper videography in capturing the spontaneity of an event like this.
I also surfed over to the Austin Statesman, which had two videos from today. Their videos were prefaced by a 30 second commercial for Obama, which was interesting to watch from a business sense: apparently some one in the Obama camp thinks online video has enough of an audience to merit spending precious ad dollars on it. After the commercials came the videos. They were both disappointing. The video at the top of their list, titled Voters at Sanchez Elementary School could have been left on the cutting room floor. It lasted barely a minute, started off with a puzzling freeze frame of a lady as a man spoke, then cut to a guy who didn't make much sense. The video itself didn't tell a story. It was one guys puzzling opinion. Their other video, Sun City Voting, also didn't tell much of a story, and also featured a rambling subject of questionable importance, awkward editing, and the dreaded windy microphone audio problems. At times the wind would drown out the speaker entirely. Remember folks: the most important part of video is the audio.
Lets not forget that there were two other primary's today in Vermont and Rhode Island. The Burlington Free Press, in Burlington VT, didn't have an election video per-se, but they did post a video about a town meeting in the city of Orwell, VT. Yeah, it wasn't about the primary, but it was about politics and provided a fascinating look at the style of democracy practiced in Vermont.
The Providence Rhode Island Journal appears to not have an in house video operation, but they did have links to streaming video from their local Fox affiliate which was just repackaged TV clips in standard TV style: SOT, VO, SOT, STANDUP. Boring.
As a brief look around the states in play tonight this served as an accurate barometer of the state of newspaper video: we have a lot to learn if the public is to begin to turn to us as a source of quality perspectives if this is all that can be mustered during an event like an election.