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Contemporary journalism philosophy packed in a few chat lines

June 11, 2015

Akshat Rathi

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This is a lightly edited Slack chat with my colleague Solana Pyne, Quartz’s senior video producer. The chat kicked off because of an article about how top publishers are using Facebook for their video strategy. Probably because we’d both been thinking about what journalism means today, we managed to distill our ideas down in just a few chat lines.

akshatSeparately here: “Al Jazeera’s Jigar Mehta nails it: “When we produce video for Facebook, we have to assume that the audience is going to be watching on their mobile phones with NO SOUND, so we have to optimize video to tell the story with no sound. Facebook, we know that we are competing for time on a platform where content FOMO [fear of missing out] is rampant, so we strive to make our videos very engaging from the start, and not waste any time getting straight into the stories we tell.”

solanaI read these things and feel like everyone just repeats the same talking points.

solanaSome of them are clearly true, but … then someone will try something else that works and everyone will write articles about how the 1-minute no-sound video was good, but now it’s all about the bla bla new format

akshat: So is this kind of an analysis just an effect of the ever-growing number of journalists covering the journalism industry?

solanaI think it’s really just that this is all so new, that no one really knows what works. And I think what works changes. And maybe it changes because once everyone starts doing exactly the same thing, people get bored. And also, Facebook is rigging the system. They’re favoring videos, and they’re auto playing them without sound.

akshatRight, and that phenomenon is true of non-video article formats too.

solanaYeah, totally. Like the Upworthy headlines that worked at first and then people started to hate.

akshatThe thing that doesn’t get old and always gets lots of views is a good story.

solanaYeah, exactly.

akshatBut you still need to package for the age. You need to give it the wings to reach full potential.

solanaYeah, I think that’s exactly right. First you need the story, then you need to think about where you’ll be publishing it and where your audience will be getting it

akshatAll that the internet’s algorithms have done is reduced the “age” to years or even months.

solana: True.

Image by evdg under CC-BY-NC.

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