Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Jeff Israely: Five years in, our news startup is seeing the pace of change slow
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Oct. 30, 2008, 4:12 p.m.

Quick video explainers: An easy way to tell a complicated story

The public radio program Marketplace deals with some pretty complicated issues — sometimes too complex to be summarized in a minute or two of airtime. So senior editor Paddy Hirsch is making a series of short videos explaining difficult concepts: naked shorts, credit default swaps, collateralized debt obligations, and so on. They’re really quite clear (via Marginal Revolution):

The current financial crisis has really brought out the best in explanatory journalism. This American Life has been justly praised for its two programs that, straightforwardly and using their standard storytelling toolkit, explained to millions why the economy was going in the tank. And while those episodes were done up the This American Life’s standard production values, anyone could do what Marketplace is doing here. Their videos are almost no-tech: no editing, one camera, and no prop more expensive than a dry-erase board.

What complicated stories in your newsroom could best be told this way? At my old newspaper, there’s been an ongoing and years-long bribery scandal at city hall. I paid more attention to it than most Dallasites, I imagine, but I still couldn’t sum up the issues and accusations as easily as I can explain why the credit default swaps market tanked, thanks to This American Life. The next time you’re covering a complex, interwoven story, the kind that stretches for months, think about shooting an explainer video that captures how you would explain the story to a buddy at a bar.

POSTED     Oct. 30, 2008, 4:12 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Jeff Israely: Five years in, our news startup is seeing the pace of change slow
“The future is already here, and we have to hustle every day to survive. And succeed.”
This: Vox.com hires Andrew Golis as its first general manager
“He is going to be tasked with thinking about what are the big swings that we want to take in the next few years.”
Slate, now 20 years old, reflects on the value of taking the long view and not chasing digital media trends
“One of the things you’ve seen across the marketplace for the last five years is a lot of companies are chasing the same kind of traffic from the same social distribution mechanisms…It’s not a recipe for producing a distinctive media brand.”