Video Activist Handbook - Chapter 3

What makes news? #

News is simply a current event that someone else would want to know about. But what are the secrets which make a story into something people hanker after?

1. It's very current, happening today. Using the templates in this book, you can actually get your report distributed ahead of the traditional media.

2. Remember the old rule: “DOG BITES MAN” is not a story. “MAN BITES DOG” is.

Always look for the quirky, the unusual, the sensational, the counter-intuitive, the plain weird. Try looking at a story from upside down. How would you tell a familiar story differently from everyone else? What makes your report on the protest grab people's attention?

How to tell a story #

1. Your story should always contain the “5 Ws” – Who, What, Where, hoW, Why.

(You don't need the “when”, as your video will be date-stamped. So we've replaced it with the very useful “How”)

[2 EXAMPLES]

2. Follow the “law of 3s” – 3 sentences if you're reporting, 3 questions if you're interviewing.

Two sentences don't give enough information, four are too many to remember!

So make sure you get your 5 Ws into your 3 sentences, or in the piece-to-camera and questions of your interview.

[2 examples – for template 1 and template 1.5]

Always try to tell your story for the widest possible number of viewers. How can you make it understood for someone who wasn't there, for someone in another city or country? How could it be relevant to their lives? The philosophy of contemporary media is: “From the hyper-local to the global”. Write it for every next-door neighbour in the world.

The smartphone video templates #

In the following chapters you will see a series of 5 easy templates for rapid-turnaround video news reports. While we've called them "smartphone video templates", they can actually be shot on any hand-held device: smartphone, tablet, digital stills or video camera.

We strongly recommend that when you start making video news, you follow these templates carefully. Finding your own voice and method comes later. Let's make sure we get something decent out the very first time we do it. Use the templates as an apprenticeship. There will be times when the microphone doesn't work, or when we're not happy with the piece. The trick is to carry on producing. and soon we will be beating the traditional media journalists at their own game.

REMEMBER: Follow the template!

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