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Nick R. Martin

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Great idea: Video trailers to promote investigative projects
By Nick R. Martin | January 26, 2008

Jean Yung, a masters student at the USC Annenberg School, wrote a great feature for Online Journalism Review this week about newspapers creating movie-like trailers and posting them on YouTube to promote their investigative projects. The Dallas Morning News has done this a couple times, most recently for a project about murderers given probation instead of prison. It's called "Unequal Justice." The video trailer is edgy and emotional and is a great way to hook readers and viewers. I'm posting it below. The newspaper used footage from videos already shot for the multimedia project and cut it into a two-minute short, complete with music and text. Then, the people involved in the project used their own social networks to send the video out, including posting it to their Facebook accounts.

The downside for the paper was the inability to easily track how many users actually clicked over to the project on DallasNews.com after watching the YouTube video, deputy managing editor Anthony Moor told OJR. YouTube shows the trailer has only been watched a few hundred times. "It’s not a lot," Moor said. "I’m not going to say that this is a breakout way to reach the audience, but we have to do things like this."

Indeed, this shows the potential newspapers have to reach out to people in different ways. If the paper's marketing department was able to pay for that video to become a flash ad on websites dealing with justice issues, or if the newspaper reporters and editors worked hard to spread it to a wider social network, the video could pull in thousands of extra readers, many who wouldn't have seen the project otherwise.


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