Digital Journalism -video is the new text

Today’s journalists are expected to stop writing already, pick up a camera and videograph the subject story for their audience. That’s because we all developed the new ways of ingesting reality.
We acquired habits of watching tv for hours or playing video games and browsing internet, while book and press reading declined significantly. Avalanche of information hit everyone so hard that whoever wants to catch viewer’s attention, has only a second or two to do so. Picture is worth a thousand words, right? And what tells a better story than dramatic image? – certainly not some long block of monotonous text. With rapid growth of mobile devices, even further constraints and opportunities in content presentation arise.

We love to see in the movies how the super agents have huge screens appearing in their hidden headquarters at will, where they could get a visual information on anything in the world at a swipe of a finger and enlarge the crucial details with the few cool gestures of their palms. Makes a great NCIS episode, and we all dream that in the nearest future that wall will be in our living room, where we can plan our next vacation spot to go or interact with the evening news or see our kids exploring galactic worlds or looking inside biology of the human cells.

Wouldn’t it be cool, during our next doctor visit, to have him displayed on demand all our X-Rays, uhm… MRIs, and digital lab tests on a big wall-screen to visualize diagnosis and animate different scenarios of our health prognosis? Next you know we are calling our next of kin using only brain waves.

How far have we gone from the long texts as an exchange of knowledge, information and communication…

Anyone sees anything wrong with this picture? It’s not about conservatism or opposition to technological progress. I am freakishly pro evolution of technology, innovation and creativity, BUT…
watch how vulnerable have we become in this model to all kinds of manipulation.

Don’t you feel like a hostage when information is provided in a video format?: …so you stumbled on that interesting title or image and you want to see the story. You start watching the video and… gotcha. Now you are at the mercy of the video narrator how soon you see something revealed. You are stuck with the pace of presentation and you don’t know what you missed, if you don’t just watch and hear to the very end.
With the same story in text, we could at least scan sections quickly for things we did not know before, or skip the boring parts, and we can choose the speed at which we are digesting the whole story. The same cannot be said even with the stop-and-forward capabilities.

Doesn’t it also discriminate to have as video journalists only cute, attractive people, because that’s what we grew to expect on the screen? Well made video does require much more effort than writing a text story. Some real time images cannot be re-iterated to perfection, or even captured in time. Images can easier manipulate us than written words.

Isn’t that why marketing invented large billboards or screen images, mostly without any words, to sell us our own dreams? …because the less salesman tells you about the product, the more you imagine it matching your dream?

And no, image is not always better than words: One can see what one is ready to see when one wants to see it. Ten individuals looking at the same picture can see ten different things. One may notice appearance, another situation, and another the expression of feelings, while someone else a composition of the whole view, without any detail. Perception is how we communicate with words our opinions, feelings and ideas, and a lot of times image only gets in a way.

Attention span and written expressions are becoming shorter and shorter. Even television is getting ditched when current generation interacts almost exclusively with the mobile, portable devices. This dictates a format of the journalism and all digital information.

It also creates new opportunities. One, just starting to be explored in the learning environments, is augmented reality. In this mode of creative information presentation, virtual layer is over imposed on the reality layer. So physical view of the landscape can be for instance overlaid with a drawn map with names of objects. It may also be a game, with hot spots of rich hidden curriculum to learn, and so on.

If the written words were to disappear, like so many communication means in the past, one can only hope that we had developed interpersonal brainwave communication before that happened.

Your cart is empty