Writers and reporters are being asked to create videos using professional tools. This is not just unreasonable, it’s killing their spirit. There’s got to be a way to make their life easier!
Not so long ago, a former colleague shared a job opening at a well-known sports website.
It was your regular JD for an editorial role, except for one bizarre point: this role required that the applicant, mainly writers, be able to work with at least one professional video-editing software.
An accomplished writer himself, my friend was annoyed: “Ab bas yahi bacha tha.”
I tried reasoning. Wasn’t it just one additional skill connected to storytelling? “You don’t get it,” he said. “Writing a script and creating a video – these are mutually exclusive jobs. Post-production isn’t my thing.”
Now, as a someone who has built products for editorial teams to use, I feel for him. I have seen first hand, for many years, the pain editorial teams endure. They are the foot soldiers sent into battle carrying kitchen knives.
We have given them shitty CMSs to work with.
We have asked them to live with miserable hacks.
We have asked them to (ab)use fields in a form, for something completely tangential.
We have gone to them on launch day, explaining what we have built.
And finally, when they inevitably screw up a screwed-up process, we have cried foul.
Reasonable ask, unreasonable solution
The job requirement he shared did get me thinking though: there are many good reasons why teams are asked to remain lean and carry out more tasks.
‘Convergence’ was a buzz word in the media industry a few years ago – every editorial hand does everything. Reporters were asked to double up as cameramen, news desks updated websites after putting the paper to bed…
The mistake is that we assume the solution is up-skilling, while keeping the tools constant.
Wanting your editorial desk to create videos might sound reasonable – but asking a writer to learn a software that professional editors use to cut full-length films is completely unreasonable.
Focus on the storyteller
If you want the storyteller to create the video, you need to deconstruct their creative journey, and then reconstruct the video-creation process to fit this journey.
Experienced storytellers – whether they’re making a movie or a marketing video – think in terms of narratives: of problems and solutions, conflicts and resolutions, setups and punchlines.
Can the writer be empowered to create videos without breaking out of the path they usually follow? Could this process actually become fun if they didn’t have to deal with stuff like timelines and layers? If they didn’t have to stress about ad inserts and brand guidelines? If they didn’t have to chase after the absconding graphics department?
The idea of using this thought as the basis of video-creation is powerful.
The idea of the main storyteller taking control over the final output, and enjoying the process of putting the story together, is exciting.
There are many ways to attempt this: from research, to storyboarding, developing story arcs, even suggesting them. Build this into a single framework and we will fundamentally change the way video creation and editing will be perceived and practiced.
ChopChop doesn’t claim to solve all of the problems associated with video storytelling. Not yet at least! Still, if you would like to take it for a spin, don’t hesitate to drop us a note.