Longform video leads the way

“Whether journalists recognize it or not, we’re all on a march to making video content that’s worthy of Netflix. 2018 will show longform video journalism can be appointment viewing and bingeable.”

2017 may have been the year the phrase “pivot to video” proved ominous for some digital publishers, but make no mistake — 2018 is when longform original video journalism will make its mark.

In recent years, news organizations have embraced super-short, quick-turnaround videos on social platforms, especially Facebook. The text-on-video style has become as familiar as it is synonymous with video journalism on social media.

Now, social platforms, user habits, and storytelling methods are including lanes better suited for longer original narratives. And the word “original” is especially important in that sentence.

The success and ease of production for text on video has saturated the market. Oftentimes you’ll see newsrooms producing similar social video edits for the same stories. Even short-form video has had to transform, but longform original video will break out in 2018 as a way for publications to differentiate themselves.

In fact, social video looks a lot more like what we’re used to seeing traditionally in television and film. Think documentaries, series, subjects telling their own stories in their own words, and a way to distinguish content from all the other options available online.

News organizations have increased their focus on YouTube. It’s a conversation we’ve literally been having for years. The site’s 1 billion active users a month make it a great place for news organizations to expand their reach and audiences at a time when they’re all looking for more — more views, more engagement, more resonance. Plus, with YouTube favoring the watch time metric, longform is poised for success. Add to that this year’s introduction of Facebook Watch and the places for longform video to be seen and excel continues to expand.

Whether journalists recognize it or not, we’re all on a march to making video content that’s worthy of Netflix. 2018 will show longform video journalism can be appointment viewing and bingeable. Users can subscribe to watch the latest production immediately or set aside time to watch one longer video, leading to another, and another.

Newsrooms will make highly produced, longform video more of a priority in pursuit of nuanced storytelling, audience desire, and transparency. Oh, and then there’s the money. Longform journalism may have the most monetizability.

YouTube already has monetization built in, and Facebook’s algorithm rewards engaging video content. So if you’re looking to create a 2018 video plan for your newsroom, longform may get you where you want to be.

Imaeyen Ibanga is senior context producer with AJ+.

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