Multimedia News Review

6 Apr

The Chicago Tribune published this article about the death and serious injury of two motorcyclists who were killed last night. The story covers the basic details of the accident:

  • It was just before midnight on Thursday, April 5
  • It occurred on the northbound Kennedy Expressway near Canfield Avenue.
  • The two men both licensed and not driving recklessly.
  • The man who lived was not wearing a helmet, it is unknown whether the man killed was.

This is a simple story that published all of the information that was known shortly after an accident’s investigation. It does not have quoted statements from police or witnesses, nor do we hear from either victim’s family. The story does, however, have an accompanying video. The video is titled “Raw video: Scene of a fatal motorcycle accident”.

And it is just that. Raw video of the scene. There is no footage from the crash, or even footage or wreckage. Just 26 seconds and four shots of Illinois State Troopers ambling around the scene of the accident, their cars parked with their lights on. The only shot that clarifies this footage is even from last night’s accident is the one dark, semi-out-of-focus shot of a motor cycled parked on the shoulder.

This kind of article is standard news. It is a brief accident report with little details and no other voices than the reporter. It is short, tight, and seemingly accurate. However, the video attached to it is nothing but short. It is non-descript and contains no information. It depicts slow-moving police officers with flashlights. Nothing about the video helps the story in any way.

Yes, this is what an accident looks like on the highway.  The ‘raw’ video is just that: raw, un-produced, and unnecessary. The 26 second video requires it’s users to watch a 30 second advertisement for Citibank. The advertisement plays every time you hit the play button, regardless if you have already seen it. The Citibank ad turns this useless video into a 56 second experience, that is a majority about credit cards.

The use of multimedia elements in news is exciting in many ways. Videos can show us what words cannot, but video can also show us nothing. The use of video in stories that are already light on content makes stories look like they are merely there to fill space on the homepage. Some stories should not have video in them at all. I chose this story because I was initially bewildered by the fact that it had a video. It seems like a lot of raw video is attempting to meet viewers’ demand for media, but really it is just being used as an outlet to sell more advertising space.


One Response to “Multimedia News Review”

  1. stevejfox April 8, 2012 at 7:01 pm #

    Good point, but I would have liked to have seen an analysis on a larger multimedia package.


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