The opinions expressed are his own.
1. The New York Times Goes Video:
Three different story ideas are prompted by the hours of interviews former Penn State assistant football coach and accused child molester Jerry Sandusky gave to the New York Times’ Jo Becker that resulted in a front-page Times story on Saturday.
First, by Saturday night I was seeing video clips of Becker’s interview on NBC, which credited the Times. This means Becker, a highly-regarded, hard-nosed print reporter, brought a video crew with her to make her Times report a multimedia event – which it was, with great impact, on the Times’ website. This left NBC’s Michael Isikoff, himself a print refuge from Newsweek, narrating a story on the Evening News on Saturday night using audio from Becker’s interview and the Times’ branded video package.
This, in itself, is a big media story. The Times‘ website, which now charges non-subscribers and is attracting hundreds of thousands of paying customers, is becoming an increasingly robust 24/7 multimedia platform. What are the prospects of the Times dispatching video crews more regularly to tape important on-the-record interviews? How will that change the reporter’s interview style and methods? (It sure would change mine, because it shifts the atmosphere and rhythm of an interview.) How might this affect the media chase to corral hard-to-get, high-profile figures for interviews? Might some feel better making their TV debut with a Times reporter than a conventional TV reporter? Leaving aside questions about their decision to talk to the press at all, it could be that Sandusky and his lawyer believed that by agreeing to this forum, they were minimizing the dangers of “gotcha” questions or of having sound bites taken out of context.
The Times report on the website was a strange mix of audio/video and audio-only. In some places, we saw and heard Sandusky, but more often we only saw still pictures of Sandusky and Becker while we listened to them. This suggests that the Times and reporters like Becker are still getting their feet wet in multimedia while they iron out issues such as limited budgets (this was clearly a one-camera shot) and interview ground rules. Nonetheless, this multimedia scoop for the paper of record is a transcendent media story.
Second, I’d like to read a story about Sandusky’s lawyer, at whose home the interview was conducted. Why does he think this interview, considered by most defense lawyers to be suicidal in advance of a trial, made sense? What other big cases has he done? Is this his usual approach to publicity? How has it worked in the past? Or is this his first big time case?