If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about videos?

Technically, videos are a collection of images in sequence, generating movement. But anyone who has ever seen a movie or a short clip can say that the reality goes way beyond the definition. The possibility of reproducing movement and sounds has amazed human kind since the 19th century. And still now, techniques, tutorials and gadgets are developed everyday to help professional and amateur video-makers.

So, what is the role of video making in the media world? And more specifically, how can we use videos on environmental journalism in an efficient way?

When thinking about videos, journalism, and nature, my mind is immediately set in documentaries. Documentaries are non-fictional movies that show a specific aspect of reality (for more information, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Documentary_film).

Documentaries have such an impact on our society that, although nothing stops a documentary to run for Best Picture, the Academy Awards created a whole category, named Best Documentary Feature. And, in the last 10 years,  three of the winners were documentaries directly related to the environment (March of the Penguins – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0428803/; An Inconvenient Truth – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0497116/; The Cove – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1313104/)

Documentaries are special because they bring specific situations in some extreme places on Earth to people’s lives without the costs of traveling and exposure to dangers. Also, they give us the chance of seeing daily realities with different lenses.

Those are some of my thoughts on the topic. I look forward to see what you think about the use of videos in environmental journalism 🙂



(If you happen to be looking for some nice documentaries on the topic, check this list at – http://documentaries.about.com/od/recommendeddocumentaries/tp/Environmental-Documentaries.htm)


About andreiaqf

Andréia Figueiredo é estudante de Biologia, amante da leitura e fascinada pela natureza e diversas formas de vida em nosso planeta

4 Responses to “If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about videos?”

  1. I completely agree. Documentaries are an important way of bringing something so abstract for the general population to life. Seeing things for ourselves can really change the way we view the world. It is one thing to be told of a problem, a way of life, etc but it is another thing entirely to watch it.

    Documentaries, photos, and film in general are an important tool for journalism. We can tell people all we want. We can even try to show them with words, but sometimes, no matter how vivid the imagery may be, it isn’t enough. And that is when we turn to film and photos. It acts not only as proof but as a tool to bring people closer to the subject. Seeing with your own eyes can be very powerful.

    Video and photos should be embraced by environmental journalists as a tool to bring readers closer to the subject. As technology changes so do our expectations for news coverage and our attention spans. Video may be the perfect way to reach an audience that would otherwise be unreachable.

    Still, we must be careful when watching documentaries. Even though they images are unaltered the sequence and framing may be. So just like writing, we must consider the source and any possible agenda.

  2. Documentaries are beautiful. They are enlightening, bring perspective, and can change the beliefs one holds strongly. They can sway you by emotion, statistics, and evidence. Documentaries have the ability to highlight issues and show a veiled reality often lost and forgotten. On the contrary, these movies can be very charged and one-sided. Seemingly neutral, they may have their own agenda. They can utilize the advantages of being a documentary and claim that everything they are showing is the truth.

    Humans are naturally drawn to personal testimonials. We are allured by stories and develop connections with those that are touching and life-altering. As a person, we are built to be sympathetic and naturally respond positively to pain, suffering, or loss. However, we are also vulnerable to being taken advantage of and feel bad about flat rejection toward an issue. Especially if we hear statistics from great organizations and testimonials from someone who is displaced by society. When we see videos only like Kony and watch commercials for hurt animals, our hearts reach out to them. And for that time, we lose our abilities to be critical of a situation.

    Just like every piece of journalism and just like everything found on the Internet, it is vital to be critical and analytical of what you watch and read. Even the most beautiful portrayals of a subject can have strong biases. Sometimes, they get to a point where they attack individuals and organizations in a subtle manner.

  3. There’s a short segment Euronews does on their broadcasts called “No Comment” wherein they, as promised, show short clips of video with no comment or explanation at all. I always liked it because it really brings to the fore what can be done with just a visual. There is also a film that played at the Michigan not too long ago called “Samsara” which was similar in its total lack of narrative. It was just about 2 hours of scenes filmed all around the world, strung together.

    My comment on this from a news consumption perspective is to be wary of editing, in the sense that images are too easy to interpret as non-biased. The euro-news segment even implies a sense of impartiality based on the name. As Yash and Chelsea both said, one must be aware that in making editing decisions, leaving some images out, and other such considerations there are implicit biases being represented. Any time you point a camera at something, you are making the political statement that what is behind the camera is less important.

    There is also something to be said with the power of a pure image to evoke conversation. As we talked about for interviews, people like to fill silences. This might be used to get a group talking about something, simply presenting an image or video with no narrative could be used
    to get a dialogue started

  4. I recently saw a documentary called “New Muslim Cool” about a Hispanic Muslim rapper’s journey from thug to spiritual leader, which is done entirely through interview segments and video clips following him around in his day-to-day life. Without narration, the viewer is left to think for him or herself why that scene is included while another equally compelling one was left out. I haven’t seen many documentaries in my life and this was the first I did without narration. Video making in the media world brings people to life, brings people’s stories to each other. It allows us to learn about an issue or topic without being directly face-to-face with it.
    Videos on environmental journalism help tell the stories of environmental issues by visualizing the issues directly to audience. In a print news story, readers have a lot of work to do with wrapping their mind around something they can only see in their head from what the author has written, and photos sometimes do not do justice to the issue either. I think of a video as a way to tell a news story in a way that’s easier on the reader’s mind and time, who is more likely to watch a 3-minute video than read an article that’ll take them at least 10 minutes. This makes videos an efficient way to report environmental journalism.

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