Nieman Foundation at Harvard
HOME
          
LATEST STORY
A network of news outlets and data agencies wants to unlock untold data stories across Europe
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
Aug. 27, 2009, 9:24 a.m.

For the Boston Globe’s Kennedy series, video is dominant

It wasn’t quite the Red Sox winning the World Series, but The Boston Globe saw huge traffic yesterday as it covered the death of Ted Kennedy — a sign that local news sites can still dominate national stories on their turf.

The Globe, which had spent years preparing for Kennedy’s death, had more than 8 million page views as of 5 p.m. yesterday, when I spoke to Bennie DiNardo, deputy managing editor for multimedia. Part of the Globe’s coverage included a seven-part biographical series — with lengthy articles, videos, and other material — that first ran in February and was later published as a book. Recent disagreement over the appeal of long-form journalism on the web made me wonder: How were people consuming the Globe’s Kennedy series?

David Beard, editor of Boston.com, said the package received more than 2.5 million page views in February and likely led to a bump in time spent on the site that month. There was some “lingering traffic” after the series ran, in part because it ranks on the first page of a Google search for Ted Kennedy. Though he didn’t have numbers to share, DiNardo said, “What we saw online the first time it went through was that people were heavily consuming the video.” (Much of the text was removed from the package for several months as part of an agreement with the book publisher, Simon & Schuster, which didn’t want free competition. All of the content is back up now, even as another press run of the book is prepared.) Boston.com has been promoting the series on its front page since news of Kennedy’s death broke early yesterday morning.

There’s not enough evidence to make a sweeping conclusion, but some of the data suggests that video is the better entry point for long-form content. Certainly, the Globe designed its Kennedy package to give the videos more prominence than the articles. “This was the first time we tried to really produce documentary-quality video,” DiNardo told me. He said finding and making arrangements to use archival footage was particularly difficult: “It was just a whole world that us newspaper folks aren’t used to.”

Yesterday the Globe uploaded those and other videos to its YouTube channel, hoping to gain audience as people searched for Kennedy clips. That’s certainly the first thing I did yesterday after waking up to the sad news. Most of the Globe’s videos have just a few hundred views, but their investigation of Chappaquiddick, naturally, has already garnered more than 13,000. Searches for Chappaquiddick dominated Google yesterday.

POSTED     Aug. 27, 2009, 9:24 a.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 45,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
A network of news outlets and data agencies wants to unlock untold data stories across Europe
Data-driven news stories produced by members of the European Data Journalism Network are translated into English, French, German, Italian, Polish, and Spanish and then made available for free to all partner and non-partner news organizations.
Volt Data Lab grew from a personal blog for coding experiments to a full-fledged data storytelling agency
Volt started as a passion project, rode a wave of interest in Brazil for better online data stories, and today builds data-based stories and reports for a wide array of Brazilian organizations from legacy newsrooms to ad agencies.
Publishers claim they’re taking Facebook’s News Feed changes in stride. Is the “bloodletting” still to come?
“Let’s put the nail in the coffin of chasing clicks and likes.”