Streaming Media East 2007: For The New York Times, Video Now Just as Important as Print

Martin Nisenholtz, senior VP of digital operations at The New York Times Company, took the keynote stage this morning at Streaming Media East 2007. Nisenholtz used his time to answer three big questions about the use of streaming for the business of journalism.

"Arthur (Sulzberger, Jr., chairman of the New York Times Co. and publisher of the newspaper) asked me when I was interviewed in 1995 if I understood we weren’t in the print business, but that we were in the journalism business," said Nisenholtz. "Since we’re in the journalism business—even though we have a deep and consistent print business—this is why we can expand to an additive process that includes both video and print."

Nisenholtz used several sample video clips, one of which—Art Buchwald’s interview that starts with the late humorist saying "This is Art Buchwald and I just died"—was picked up by the blogosphere in the days just after it was released.

"The print obituary on Art was brilliant," said Nisenholtz, "but we supplemented that with ‘The Last Word’ video to create a gestalt. Both together formed an additive process that kept the buzz about it going for longer than either alone would have done."

Nisenholtz also noted that citizen journalism is on the upswing, including video blogging, and that the Times print reporters are, by necessity, becoming skilled in shooting video.

"We have about 20 people dedicated to video in our newsroom, but also in some instances a reporter will need to have their own knowledge of the cameras so that they can capture raw content," said Nisenholtz. "We give the reporters about half a day of training on basic camera techniques and they’re now working with a new camera that’s small enough to carry anywhere and shoots in near-HD quality."

Another unintended side effect of the training is a stronger bond between the traditional reporter and videographers, and the Times is beginning to send videographers out with the reporters to collaborate on a story.

"It’s never been our objective to go up against CNN and Fox, who own the breaking news space," said Nisenholtz, "but we’ve also been amazed how long it’s taken the broadcasters to craft a response to YouTube. We think that is in part because of traditional partnerships and business models. Those who haven’t been in the game—including the Times who is just getting into video—have less to lose and can therefore move faster to craft responses."

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