In the last few weeks I've been watching even more news then I normally do, and watching the same clips over and over again to better understand the skeleton that makes up a story. I began recording the packages and breaking them down afterwards. I've started with Al Jazeera first, and I have only done it for 10 videos at the moment, but you can see the data on a google spreadsheet I've made available:
The data that is the most concrete is that 24 is the average number of shots in a news package. Having an idea of how much content someone needs to produce is a very tricky balance, people tend to either produce too much or too little content. So now a citizen journalist can start out with a specific goal in mind, and allowing themselves to focus on how to best use each shot to tell part of their story. I'm glad we have this number, and I intend to add more data to the pool to see how true it is across the board, but it's a good starting point.
Now, the process of collecting this data I've raised far more questions then I've answered. The average shot length is not at all accurate to what a package looks like. The interview shots of a package are significantly longer then the b-roll shots are. I need to work on splitting up the numbers so the averages are available by shot style, so we can see how long the average interviews are as well as the different b-roll shots.
It is also a very small pool of data from a single news organization. This is not reflected in the data, but by focusing on a single organization I did find that Al-Jazeera producers only use the medium shot for shooting a piece to camera. All of their interviews are medium close ups or close ups. How do other organizations handle these parts of their packages? Are they similar or different and how does that impact the piece?
By only having 5 shot sizes as well we are not reflecting the true diversity in shot choices made by the producers either. I intend to add more shot sizes as well to better understand if some of the other in-between sizes are more prevalent.
There's a lot more data to collect from other news organizations, and further granularity to add to this data and the overall information as well. But, I'm looking forward to looking into these patterns even more to see what we can learn to pass onto citizen journalists who are looking to compete with the pros.