This Just In…

Here’s the headline: End Of Discussion!

Yesterday, our regular reader from Fox wrote to me:

The day that paper, or any other in the country, covers the headline story of the day, every day, with a video version, is the day your empty claims will have validity.

So far you, than they, are batting zero.

Ironically, on the same day, I received emails from John O’Boyle, a videojournalist at The Star Ledger and Seth Siditsky, who is running the video project there. They both wanted to inform me of the paper’s video coverage of the paper’s front page story for the day – the sentencing of former Newark Mayor Sharpe James.

Writes O’Boyle:

Thought you might be interested in this.
This week former Newark mayor Sharpe James was sentenced to prison for
political corruption.
All the tv stations were at the courthouse, most with 2 cameras.
But only two stations had any video on the web and that was just the
recycled 5pm newscast report.
Our video reports started being posted at around 11:30am with “raw” video of
the defendants and the prosecution walking in the courthouse. (notice the 4
camera angles of Sharpe James entering)

Here’s a summary of what was available on the web:

Channel 4 – no video
Channel 7 – 5 o’clock news report
Channel 2 – 5 o’clock news report
Channel 5 – no video
Channel 9 – no video
News 12 – must be a Comcast or Cablevision subscriber or pay a fee to access

-James, Riley and Christie enter courthouse
-Ledger Live report
-Joan Whitlow analysis
-Report on a family living in one of the run down apartments involved in the
illegal land deal
-Full video recap of the day’s events

So the newspaper folks who “can’t shoot news” on video had “raw” video of
the defendants and prosecution entering, a noon newscast, expert analysis, a
feature on the people impacted by the crimes followed by a full narrated
report of the day’s events.

A few minutes later, Siditsky’s email arrives:

So I’ve had a few people here comment on how we’ve been criticized on not
being able to do news related video and yesterday was a pretty good example
of what we can do.

So I’m passing it along if you are interested.

Links are blip when I have them or the video links.

The former mayor of newark was sentenced to 27 months in prison yesterday.
In addition to regular still and writing coverage, we had 4 videographers on
the trial.
Clips of every key player walking into court in the morning and available
for use in Ledger Live at noon.
[ ?posts_id=1132818&dest=-1]
And in the show we sent a VJ and reporter to one of the shoddy apartments
that were in question with corruption case

Then after the verdict came down in the afternoon, we took one of our
columnists and brian and did this

And produced a wrap-up video of footage and press conference info (with

You are not going to get that kind of coverage with that kind of depth from
any tv station.

Need I say more?


I would say that our ’empty claims’ now have validity.

When we started with the VJ concept, first it was the ‘quality’ issue. As you can see from any of the pieces posted here, that is not an issue. The doubters then retreated to the ‘breaking news’ defense. ‘OK. It’s ok for features but not for ‘real’ (ie, headline) news.

We have now laid that one to rest as well.

All in all, I think, point, set, game and match for the journalists at the Star Ledger.

As we say here in Tuscany, Mazel Tov!


10 responses to “This Just In…

  1. Well done!

    They did it for ONE day!

    Now let’s see them do it EVERY day!

    Will they?

    I’m not saying they won’t but, if they don’t do it every day then just pointing a finger to one day as an example proves what I believe.

    They can’t do it every day of the week like everyone else.

    By the way, your comparison of coverage?

    It’s misleading from the standpoint you, for some reason, don’t want to point out the story was on everyone’s six and eleven shows!

    But of course I’m sure that was just an unintended mistake on your part.

    You’d never ignore a reality in favor of pitching what you believe despite facts which exist to the opposite point of view.

    Care to compare that VJ coverage with the stories done by everyone else for those six and eleven shows?

    Care to talk about depth and quality?

    Or is it more important to claim “first” in your mind?


    Just rushing to claim “first”!?!?!

    More and more you sound like a small market tv news director playing small market tv news games.

  2. sound effects: crickets chirping….

    Seems the the whole notion of “what is front page news” has just been refuted – it’s this kind of agility via the web that shows why it’s the wave of the future – and the old ways of doing broadcast news are going the way of the DoDo. The Star-Ledger is going to be seen as another model by which other newspapers will serve their communities – and advertisers will begin to see value in how they can reach viewers at a cost effective rate. It will happen.

    Here’s a summary of what was available on the web:

    Channel 4 – no video
    Channel 7 – 5 o’clock news report
    Channel 2 – 5 o’clock news report
    Channel 5 – no video
    Channel 9 – no video
    News 12 – must be a Comcast or Cablevision subscriber or pay a fee to access

    And this is suppose to be the representation of so called professional broadcast news at the local level – I don’t think so. Media consumption online has increased to almost 5 hours per viewer per day. Those viewers are replacing Appointment TV programming with web based on demand content. Viewers contol what they view and when.

    Appointment TV is dead. Detractors can refute all they want. This so called failure by the various detractors of newspapers doing video (You know who you are) shows that The Star-Ledger scooped the mainstream corporate news media and did it in a way that served the community with more information than would have been possible with TV – and for less money.

    Quality and lower in cost – that’s a smart business model.

  3. Hello? $…are you out there?

  4. has high quality video freely available for every story it covers – and yet less than 5% of the stories contain video.


    HINT: it has nothing to do with the size of the camera or the crew.

  5. “Quality and lower in cost”!

    No one can beat your cost Cliff!


    Still, you can’t get a job.

    Must be the quality part that’s holding you back because I don’t see how you can go any lower on cost.

    So is this now the norm?

    Will the paper have it’s headline, important local story of the day, always in video as well?

    Do the editors get it yet?

    Do the VJs get it yet?

    Let’s watch and see.

    So far it doesn’t look good no matter how much hoopla is written here from the Star Ledger VJ fans.

    That bottom line in the newspapers budget is still well below positive.

    If VJs are the real hope and future, they’ll have the lead story in both print and video available every day.

    If not?

    They can watch what has happened at every other newspaper and see their own future as well.

  6. The Star Ledger may have waited too long to get going with the VJ Model…

    I hope they make it.

    From the AP ( )

    Advance to sell Star-Ledger if not enough buyouts
    By JEREMY HERRON – 1 day ago

    NEW YORK (AP) — Advance Publications Inc. will sell The Star-Ledger of Newark unless 26 percent of staff accept buyouts by October, the company told employees in a letter Thursday.

    Star-Ledger publisher George Arwady said that if 200 of the paper’s 750 full-time employees do not apply for a buyout by Oct. 1, and if the company does not get new agreements from unions representing its mailers and drivers, the New Jersey paper will be sold.

    “The situation is critical — we are currently on life support,” Arwady said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press.

    Advance will also sell sister paper The Times of Trenton unless 25 staff accept buyouts, the paper’s publisher, Richard Bilotti, said in a separate letter to staff.

    It is unclear how many people work at the smaller paper in the New Jersey capital.

    “Although we have implemented a variety of plans to reduce expenses and create new sources of revenue, our financial picture continues to deteriorate. We simply have been unable to offset the unprecedented and continuing steep decline in advertising revenue,” Arwady said in the letter.

    He said the paper had already retained JPMorgan Chase to “help us plan a sale.”

    The Star-Ledger is not threatening layoffs because of a pledge in the employee handbook that says as long as the paper is published daily, no nonunion employee will be fired for corporate financial reasons. The paper has about 300 non-represented newsroom staff.

    Across the country newspapers have made almost daily announcements of job reductions, production cuts and subscription price increases as publishers try to trim costs to offset steep declines in revenue.

    The buyout would pay severance equal to an employee’s 2007 annual pay plus one year of health benefits. Those terms would apply to all staff, regardless of seniority.

    Star-Ledger staff do not pay for health care, and have both a defined-benefit pension and 401(k) retirement plan.

    Advance Publications was not immediately available to comment.

    Earlier this week, the publisher said it will close the Newhouse News Service in Washington in November.

    Advance, controlled by the Newhouse family, owns 26 daily newspapers, including The Oregonian in Portland, Ore.; The Plain Dealer in Cleveland; and The Times-Picayune in New Orleans. It also owns Conde Nast Publications, the second-biggest magazine publisher in the country.

  7. gatehouse media closed at 44 cents Friday – down from $200 – the shares have lost 99.8% of their value since (MR would say in spite of) their push for “good enough” video.

  8. Some may believe I am happy about my predictions coming true.

    I am not.

    I wish the best for those at the Star Ledger.

    However, the disconnect between those who make the editorial decisions for the print side compared to those attempting VJ, illustrates how difficult it is for any paper to transition to the web claiming video coverage as well as print.

    When editors continuously select one type of story as their lead for their print version of the paper, and yet another type shows up as VJ work, the divergence of ideology is fatal to the future on the Internet for the overall company.

    A side note, anyone who believes a promise made to non union workers in an employee handbook about layoffs and buyouts, should also check into buying a large bridge or two in downtown New York.

  9. I want to respond to this question by $, which I think is a really interesting one as we move forward with all this here at The Star-Ledger

    he wrote:
    Will the paper have it’s headline, important local story of the day, always in video as well?

    My answer to that is, no. And it’s not a goal we aspire to. And that’s not because we don’t have the ability or the capacity. It’s because often the lead story of the day just doesn’t lend itself to video. If the lead story of the day is about the state budget, or an investigation into political shenanigans, or sweetheart deals (we get lots of that here), well, that sort of story doesn’t lend itself to videos, especially on the day it breaks. If the governor unveils a new state budget, I want to read it and look at charts and graphs the day it comes out. There’s just no need for video on a lot of storeis.

    Some stories might lend themselves more to just text, others to photos or a combination. The challenge here – and the great opportunity – is to choose the right tool to tell each story. With the web, and video integrated into our web presentation, we have a full tool kit to tell the story the best way it should be told. THAT is the goal here, not just to do video of the big story every day. Hope that helps explain things.

  10. Good article, thank for sharing

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