The KobreGuide Checklist
Here are the qualities we consider when selecting videojournalism for inclusion in KobreGuide:
1. GOAL: What is the point of this story? What did it set out to say or do? Did it accomplish that?
2. INNOVATION: What specifically makes this execution special? What did the reporter and/or videographer do differently or unusually that warrants our attention? What makes it qualitatively stand out from similar efforts by others?
3. INFORMATION: What new light does it shed on the subject matter? What new ideas or data are presented? What makes this information important and worth knowing? What makes it valuable to us?
4. JOURNALISM: What are the journalistic merits of this story? What journalistic qualities are worth pointing out? Is it fair? Balanced? Investigative? Adversarial? Contrarian? Probing? Illuminating? Does it employ good sources? Good interviews? Resourceful, hard-hitting reporting?
5. STORYTELLING: Does it incorporate storytelling techniques that make it memorable and compelling?
6. VISUAL STRENGTHS: What makes this a gripping, well-structured piece of video (or audio-slideshow)? How did the reporter and/or videographer best make use of imagery to tell this story? What distinguishes the way this was SHOT and EDITED?
7. AUDIO STRENGTHS: How does the audio track enhance this story? How does it best use voices, natural sounds, ambient sounds, sound effects, music?
8. CONTEXT: Why this story now? What was the impetus for telling this story? How does this compare to other coverage of similar subject matter?
9. PROCESS: What unusual steps did videographer/journalist take in pursuing this story? What is notable about the approach taken to report and/or present this story?
10. IMPACT/ CALL TO ACTION: How does this story shape our thinking? How does it emotionally move us? How does it change the way we think or feel or behave? What exactly does this story inspire us to do, or do differently?
KobreGuide Mission Statement
What's a KobreGuide? How can you use it to improve your videojournalism?
1. Promote and champion professional multimedia journalism
KobreGuide is the portal for the Web's most moving stories. It organizes and showcases the medium's best documentary-style professional videojournalism. It is the Web's "TV Guide" for non-fiction feature stories that incorporate audio and/or video components, and are about important people and issues. It is "60 Minutes" for the 21st century -- the thinking person's YouTube.
For busy consumers, KobreGuide provides "one-stop shopping" for the Web's best videojournalism. For media outlets, KobreGuide targets and delivers the sophisticated demographic and psychographic they have long been yearning for.
2. Offer exclusively professionally curated gems
Instead of offering user-generated content, or zillions of search-engine results, KobreGuide is meticulously curated by a staff of top journalists who handpick all selections and annotate and organize them so they can be easily searched and viewed. Visitors appreciate knowing that they will always be served a balanced five-course meal by top chefs, and not thousands of blades of grass.
3. Offer exclusively professionally produced stories
Instead of a swamp of amateur home videos, KobreGuide presents only the most sophisticated professional quality storytelling projects, generated by the world's most distinguished journalism practitioners, including major media organizations who have won Pulitzers, Emmys and other industry awards.
If YouTube is the Web offspring of "America's Funniest Home Videos," KobreGuide is the next generation of "60 Minutes"-style newsmagazines, which for years topped television ratings charts.
KobreGuide points viewers to the highest quality and attention-worthy documentary-style (i.e., non-news) videojournalism projects that are being produced by leading news organizations (e.g., The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, etc.) and reputable independent producers. These media organizations have the manpower and financial resources to dispatch journalists around the globe in search of the most important stories, developed and produced to the industry's highest professional standards.
4. Make it simple and easy for viewers to use
KobreGuide hosts no multimedia content – instead, we simply showcase and annotate it, organize it by "channels," present it on easy-to-navigate grids, and link directly to the source. Viewers can find stories with one click.
5. Offer only the best of the best
KobreGuide independently scouts, compiles, annotates and organizes content – we are neither a search engine nor a "dumping ground" for grass-roots contributions, nor do we aspire to be all-inclusive or comprehensive in scope. We will consider submissions, but ultimately everything that is featured on our site has been vetted and approved by our editorial staff, and is presented as the "cream of the crop."
Unlike popular automated news aggregators (Google News, Yahoo News), KobreGuide selections are handpicked by seasoned journalists who not only scour the Web for suitable candidates, but also have professional relationships with the top media outlets (e.g., The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Detroit Free Press, etc.) who provide topnotch choices.
6. Help viewers save time
The advantage to time-strapped Web viewers – who are faced with an overwhelming amount of options -- is that KobreGuide provides an "at a glance" map and compass to the most prestigious "must see" video projects, and enable them to make intelligent viewing choices based on useful criteria (e.g., topic, tone, source, viewing time). We're finding the needles in the haystack for them.
7. Help media outlets attract viewers
The advantage to the video producers whose projects we feature (e.g., newspapers, magazines, TV shows, etc.) is that KobreGuide is directly connecting them to their Web audience – a challenge that has, to their collective despair, so far eluded even the top journalism brands. It has taken traditional "static" media a while to figure out how to tell "moving stories" – and now that they're starting to get the hang of it, they still haven't quite been able to generate enough viewership to satisfy advertisers. Consequently, quality Web multimedia journalism has been a perplexingly and distressingly money-losing proposition. This "one-stop" site will benefit professional journalism purveyors enormously by directly delivering eyeballs to their doorsteps.
Currently these prizeworthy videojournalism projects are well hidden. Though major news organizations began exploring Web multimedia possibilities since the necessary technology blossomed at the beginning of this century, it's only been in the past year or so that their efforts have borne meaningful fruit. Only recently have we begun to see well-crafted, Web-specific reports that play to the strengths and characteristics of the medium and its audience. Alas, individual newspaper Web sites are still struggling with how to draw audiences to their efforts. Casual visitors to these sites can easily miss the video content – and, even after stumbling upon it, would have difficulty distinguishing the high-quality material that's worthy of their valuable time to view it. As a result, most of it goes unseen and unappreciated… to the dismay of the producers and media outlets who have heavily invested in it, and are banking on mass audience appeal to lure the advertising dollars needed to monetize future efforts.
8. Help local media outlets find a national audience
While there are meritorious Webvideo reports of local or regional interest, KobreGuide is primarily looking for hidden gems that have universal appeal. While many Web travelers are likely to look at the online version of their local newspaper, they are unlikely to peruse the newspaper Web sites of other cities, where multimedia stories of universal interest to them may in fact reside. KobreGuide therefore serves as a one-stop aggregator of the world's best English-language newsfeature multimedia.
9. Provide substance and variety
How long are the stories? They range in length from a watercooler break (1-3 minutes) to a snack (5-10 minutes) to a one-hour feast. Using the print magazine model, some are columns or departments and others are cover stories. They are not the equivalent of TV news stories, though some may be "backgrounders" that provide a close-up focus on a personal story that brings to life a bigger issue or event.
While KobreGuide is designed to appeal to the visual generation, we are not in competition with YouTube, MetaCafe or Revver, in that our audience yearns for high-quality, professionally produced content – a nutritious meal, not empty calories.
10. Resurrect the lost art of non-fiction storytelling
What kind of projects are most likely to be found on KobreGuide? People-oriented stories. Stories that show emotion. Stories that have an impact. Stories that are important. Stories with a narrative arc – beginning, middle, end. Stories people will care about. Stories that are interesting. Stories that enable you to learn, and to better function as an intelligent citizen of the world. Stories you'll want to share with your family, friends and colleagues. Stories about topics and issues that affect you. Stories that are good to know. Stories that you need to know. Stories with information that will improve your awareness, knowledge and understanding. Stories that will deepen and broaden your perceptions. Stories that are life-changing and life-affirming. Stories that are entertaining. Stories that are good for you.