San Diego newspaper turns to video on news site for enhanced coverage

A newspaper might be the last place you'd expect to find video news coverage. That was until the Web came along., the online news site of The San Diego Union-Tribune, shoots and edits video of breaking news and special events putting its visitors in the middle of stories in unique ways.

San Diego's new downtown ballpark is good example. "They had to do a test where they flushed all the toilets at the same time for 15 minutes to test the plumbing," said Greg Magnus, principal content producer for the site. "The sound of all those toilets flushing, there's a hook for video coverage."

Magnus, who has spent the last three years at SignOnSanDiego, credited the site's video coverage with adding a new dimension to news stories that The San Diego Union-Tribune previously would have only covered in print.

"With the recent fires, we took our video cameras out and shot the homes and the people who were affected," he said. "Basically, we shot everything we could about the fires, recording news with the video cameras and posting it on the site." Those clips are the site's most heavily viewed video news items to date, he said.

SignOnSanDiego uses three Sony DSR-250 camcorders and a DSR-PD150 to shoot field footage. Reporters can edit the raw material in the field on their Apple Macintosh laptops running Apple Final Cut Pro or Avid Xpress DV. At the office, final edits are done with Adobe Premiere. Finished clips are posted on the Web site as low- and high-bandwidth RealMedia files.

Although reporters at The San Diego Union-Tribune occasionally work with the staff of SignOnSanDiego on stories, Magnus would like to see closer ties in the future. "Personally my main goal is to do more collaborative stuff. The paper has a lot of contacts, and I would like to see us working more closely together. I would like to see more long-term projects, where the newspaper plans its coverage with video in mind as part of their product."

When the journalists at The San Diego Union-Tribune have worked with the site, such as war coverage from Iraq or the World Cup soccer championship from Japan, to augment print coverage with video, the results have been superb, Magnus said.

"We have seen where exceptional reporters and photographers have gone the extra mile in their print reporting by supplementing their coverage through the site," he said.

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