12. Video storytelling for the Web

Video storytelling is a tool that digital natives really love, but it’s quite hard to do well. You’ll need to work on it a while for it to be really efficient. Web vidéo storytelling is not TV storytelling.

Embedding a video from a sharing platform 

The first use of video in a web article consists in taking an extract broadcast on a sharing platform (such as YouTube or Dailymotion). To do so you only need to copy/paste the embedded code that’s attached to the link you want to put in your article. Such a code is usually depicted by the </> symbol or the “export” option. Once you’ve copied it in your own article, the video will be available to web users, and they won’t even have to leave your page.

Be careful, if the sharing platform decides to remove this video, then a black screen will automatically replace the file, included on your website.

Shooting your own video

Shooting an interview for the Internet with a digital camcorder is more or less similar that what you would do for the TV (see TV). The main difference stands in the platform and format diversity. On the Internet, a video interview can :

  • be much longer than on TV.
  • be made available to users under various editing processes.
  • be given original no voiceover, written questions.

As a whole, a video that lasts more than 3 minutes will automatically lose its audience. Therefore if you want your vid to go over those 3 minutes you need to edit it with care. In anyway a good interview is conducted according to the following rules of framing.


Strenght lines. Imagine that the screen is split in three by vertical and horizontal lines. The strong parts of your image must be located where those lines cross (see above with a shot of mountains).


The “look to camera”. To avoid the webcam effect, especially during interviews (with a zoom on the interviewee’s face right at the center of the screen), the eyes should be framed at the top of the screen, where the lines cross. The interviewee should look towards the empty side of the screen. Hence if the interviewee is on the left of the screen, they’ll have to look towards the right (and vice versa).

Editing a video by yourself

Video edition is no longer the privilege of TV newsrooms. Editing tools are now easier to use, and format digitalization as well as the decrease in equipment cost have made video available to web newsrooms. Whether you’re using a smartphone or a mini-camera (such as Flip), whether you’re editing videos thanks to free software (Avidemux) or paying software (Adobe Premiere Elements), it’s a task even nonspecialists should be able to do. But what for ?

There are three types of popular videos on news websites :

  • “Hidden camera” stories : an unknown persons catches something extraordinary occurring on the street. Something made extraordinary by its violence, its humor or its uniqueness.
  • Powerful interviews… or interviews with a huge blooper : a point of view, a confidence that should not have been recorded.
  • “No comment” stories : they tell everyday lives without looking like it, breaking usual TV codes.

Video is probably the news reporting domain where, for the time being, there has been the less innovation. Many formats to be invented remain still.