Jun 26, 2007

Slate.com’s new online video magazine

Continuing on the theme of new media, here’s something interesting happening at Slate: Andy Bowers the man who started Slate’s popular podcasting programs has left the podcast for a promotion to start Slate V (the V is for video), a new online video magazine version of Slate.com.

Yes, folks at Slate know there’s tons of video content out there. You already know about Youtube and you may have even heard of Funnyordie.com (if you haven’t, I highly recommend it). But the problem with sites like those is the perennial problem of the Internet: Too much junk to sift through.

So the idea with Slate V is that they’re going to give us video content that’s a cut or two above the usual YouTube-grade home videos. I checked it out, excited for a new avenue to high quality video. I wasn’t impressed by the first video, a hybrid of live footage and animation that followed the format of Dear Abby, except it’s called Dear Prudie .

It’s mildly amusing, I guess. But the video doesn’t add much. I think the medium of audio or text works just fine for advice columns. What can video add to that really? Not much, in my opinion.

But another video by Bowers about the role of web video in the presidential campaign was fantastic. Check it out:

Here's one more worth watching: an analysis of a campaign commercial that features Bill Clinton stumping for Hillary Clinton, was smart, interesting and even funny. They could use footage from the commercial and even compare it to a commercial from back when Bill was running and Hillary stumped for him.

Both of these videos were a much better use of video as a way to enhance coverage in a way that plain text or audio would fall short. Very interesting, thought-provoking and great examples of how web videos can add value to news websites.

Too bad, Slate has to pay for this new content by forcing viewers to stare at an obnoxious still photo of a car advertisement for what feels like at least 30 seconds, (long enough to make me want to click to a different site). And the video kept breaking up as it was loading and it caused my web browser to crash about six times. I eventually gave up. But what I found in a few of the videos has made me decide to revisit later, and you should too.

I’m also a big fan of Slate’s podcasts. So check them out too while you’re at it. I really like this one called Google’s Buried Treasures . It’s about all the cool things you can do on Google that most people don’t know about.

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