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Videos add life to our Web site

July 15, 2007|By TERRY HEADLEE

The sheer power of the Internet is constantly changing the way we gather and report news on a daily basis.

One example is the use of video to augment our stories and photos.

In January, our newspaper posted five news videos on our Web site.

By the end of June, the number had soared to 97 videos from 83 different events - an average of roughly three each day. In one day, we posted six videos.

That number last month was helped no doubt by our extensive coverage of regional high school and college graduations, as well as major spectator events that included the annual Western Maryland Blues Fest and the Miss Maryland pageant.

And as we move forward into the digital age, the number of videos likely will climb even higher.

By the time I had finished writing this column Friday afternoon, we already were at 44 videos for the month of July.

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Some of these videos included President Bush's July 4 visit to Martinsburg, W.Va., nationally known author Nora Roberts throwing out the first pitch at a Hagerstown Suns baseball game and "American Idol" star Taylor Hicks performing at The Maryland Theatre.

We still will be telling stories in print and with photos - and will for a long, long time.

But video has added a new and refreshing dimension to some newspapers that I at one time had thought would have been unimaginable. Just a short six months ago there wasn't anyone in our newsroom who had shot video for our Web site. Today, there are 24 people (and counting).

The use of video provides another alternative for readers to get additional information about stories they find relevant. Most of our videos are 30 to 90 seconds in length.

When a sinkhole recently developed on Maugans Avenue, we published a photo and story in the newspaper and on our Web site.

But at the same time, we shot video of it to give you an even deeper perspective (no pun intended, seriously) that we couldn't have done in the past.

I always thought that we did a fabulous job covering the Blues Fest and the annual Salute to Independence at Antietam National Battlefield each year. But this time around, we were able to videotape portions of both events so you could watch the performers and hear the beautiful music.

I also see some real practical uses as well.

For example, the next time we do a story about traffic congestion, we can show you just how busy the intersection is. Video also gives us a lot of options in covering breaking news, such as fires and weather-related incidents, as well as feature stories. We are making preparations to cover several high school football games each week this fall with video.

I probably should tell you now that one of my secret fantasies is this: The next time an elected official says he or she was misquoted in a story, I hope it's an occasion that we also covered with our video cameras. It will be a nice option for us to tell you to "go to the videotape" and watch and listen to it for yourselves.

My prediction now is that this will probably happen a couple of times as the 2008 election year rolls around. If not sooner.

Terry Headlee is executive editor of The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7594, or by e-mail at terryh@herald-mail.com.

ยท To watch videos, go to www.herald-mail.com, go to "Multimedia" and click on the blue "more" button. A list of headlines will appear under the "Video" heading. Click on any story and find the white video screen in the left-hand rail (you might need to scroll down a little). Click again to play the v

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