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NY Times’ Lo-Fi Video Storytelling for “Sign O’ The Times” is Still Compelling

COVID-19 has forced a re-think of video production values, and a re-think about audience’s tolerance for lower production values. For these reasons, The Times’ “Diary of a Song” is worth watching…

By Paul Marszalek

In my day job working in international media, I come across some pretty lo-fi video and television production.

In the early days of Nollywood, the Nigerian Hollywood, some films were packed with continuity errors. For example, in one shot the actor is wearing a blue shirt, the next shot it’s white. Props mysteriously appear and disappear during scenes. What possibly would the audience think about these glaring errors?

In short, no one cared. The stories were local and they were compelling. That’s all that mattered.

Similarly, Tik/Tok’s authenticity trumped Quibi’s billions in production value.

Video journalists face a dilemma during the pandemic. Booking a crew to set up and shoot a series of interviews just isn’t that easy.

The New York Times’ occasional Diary of a Song series is betting that if the story is compelling, the audience will look past lo-fi production. In “Diary of a Song: How Prince Wrote a Political Anthem,” reporter Joe Coscarelli combines strong interview bookings, a Zoom-like solution, and relevant archival footage from the Prince estate to deliver a piece worth watching…

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