Newspaper Journalists: The Online Video Stars of the Future?

Are journalists and bloggers for traditional newspapers a new talent pool for the world of web video? As more publications push their staffers to explore online options for spreading the brand, it’s a trend that appears to be gathering momentum — and it’s resulted in some great content created on a relatively low budget.

For example, New York Times technology columnist David Pogue became a viral video star in 2007 thanks to the Webby-winning iPhone: The Music Video, and has continued to create short videos on a weekly basis that put a creative spin on tech issues. And when the Times partnered with CNBC for Pogue’s video series, they were able to share the costs and production as well as the content.

The Cheeseburger Show‘s Kevin Pang, meanwhile, is a food writer for the Chicago Tribune who’s been using online video to showcase different varieties of the Chicago-area cheeseburger. While the show is produced under the Chicago Tribune banner, and benefits from the newspaper’s brand placement, it receives no actual funding from the Tribune Co. As Pang told the Chicago Reader, “Myself and a few friends filmed, edited, did sound, put on the pancake makeup completely by ourselves, on our own time. A labor of love, to be sure.” They’re also seeking sponsorship for the series, so as to “actually (hopefully) bring in coin for Mother Tribune.”

And the new series Twits, which riffs on the recent phenomena of celebrities using — and abusing — Twitter, gained notoriety for being a Washington Post production. It’s not what you’d expect to see under the banner of the publication that once brought down a U.S. President, but it was created by Liz Kelly, WaPo’s celebrity gossip blogger, who came up with the show as an accompaniment to her blog Celebritology.

By allowing their reporters to build an audience around their unique voices, the Times, Tribune and Post have been able to build their brands simply by associating themselves with fun content, and at minimal personal cost (something I go into in further detail about in a longer version of this piece over at GigaOM Pro, subscription required). Will any of these shows save the allegedly dying print industry? If publications begin to seriously retreat behind paywalls, then one good exclusive show, on top of well-respected news coverage, might be enough to convince subscribers to sign up.

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