From the Editor

The Tribune uses video to bolster storytelling

sduerr@thetribunenews.comMay 21, 2014 

Last fall, reporter Patrick S. Pemberton wrote a delightful feature on Triston Gailey, a 3-year-old who loved squirrels — and surfing. Realizing that readers would enjoy watching the toddler surf the waves with his dad, Pat also produced a two-minute video.

Within two days of posting that video on SanLuisObispo.com, we fielded requests from media worldwide for permission to use it. The video has now been viewed more than 100,000 times.

This is a perfect example of how Tribune reporters, photographers and editors are now using video as another form of storytelling, adding one more dimension to the stories, photos and informational graphics we already offer.

Our videos are designed to take you somewhere you couldn’t go or see otherwise, to capture key moments, to allow you to hear the voices and watch the actions and mannerisms of those interviewed.

Like most people who shoot video these days, we’re doing it with our smartphones. We’re keeping the videos relatively short, from 30 seconds to about two minutes, realizing that readers don’t have a lot of time. And we’re posting them not only on our website, but also on YouTube.

“It is a big change, like the one from black-and-white to color film, or film to digital imaging. We now have more to work with,’’ notes longtime senior photographer David Middlecamp. “Video can give readers an extra layer of information.”

So far, our videos have ranged from showing Cal Poly students flying the drone they built, to a close-up of a panga drug-running boat left on the North Coast, to an interview with an Arroyo Grande teenager talking about her quest to join the Bonneville 200 MPH Club, to a local group playing pickleball (a cross between tennis, badminton and pingpong).

We’ve also shared surveillance videos from law enforcement agencies depicting bank robbers fleeing the scenes, as well as videos from local residents and businesses — whether they involve the theft of a cake at the Madonna Inn or, more recently, a pod of killer whales attacking a gray whale in Morro Bay.

To be sure, we’re still learning how best to produce video — and figuring out what videos are most useful, interesting and relevant for readers. Clearly, some news stories don’t lend themselves to video because they’re not that visual.

If you haven’t watched any of our videos, please check them out at www.sanluisobispo.com/videos. Then let us know your reactions and suggestions. Email me at sduerr@thetribunenews.com. And if you shoot a compelling video you think we’d be interested in, email it to webteam@thetribunenews.com.

Do you have a question about the newspaper, our website or our coverage? If so, please write me c/o The Tribune, P.O. Box 112, San Luis Obispo, CA 93406-0112, or email me at sduerr@thetribunenews.com. Follow me on Twitter @SandraDuerr.

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