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Television news stations are increasingly turning to Skype and other online video software when conducting off-site interviews. Although I have only been out of the television news business for four years, this is something I never even considered doing as a reporter. Back then, when interviewee accessibility was an issue, we recorded a phone interview and put up a full screen graphic (see right). This is not compelling television, so Skype is a welcomed alternative.
In this age of lightning-fast news cycles, many TV stations don’t have the time – or money – to send crews long distances for interviews. Skype is much cheaper and faster, but TV news stations compromise quality when using it. For example, KARE-11 recently ran a story with hardly any video shot using a KARE-11 camera. The interview was conducted via Skype and supplemental video was shot by an amateur.
TV news professionals have more access to video than ever before thanks to video sharing websites like YouTube. These videos are open to public viewing and can therefore be used by news organizations without permission. Combined with online video programs like Skype, YouTube is shifting the focus of television news away from the streets and onto the web.
Taking into account the current financial state of the news media, I expect to see online video interviews continue to gain prevalence in television news. While it will never fully replace the traditional television interview, the convenience and efficiency of Skype are too good to be true for an industry that’s all about churning out content in the fastest way possible.