Whether on TVs, phones, or social media feeds, many Americans are getting their news through videos. And with a national election dominating the U.S. news, many local publishers are struggling to meet the demand for engaging, on-the-ground political videos. Enter Project Stringer.
The Google News Initiative partnered with Stringr—a video marketplace that allows publishers to source, edit and publish custom footage—to distribute daily video content about the 2020 elections to local newsrooms across the country. Initial participating publishers include The Boston Globe, FOX Television Stations, News Press & Gazette, Lee Enterprises, The Weather Group and Local Now, and Flood Communications with plans to expand to more newsrooms.
Everyday, Stringr produces and distributes short video content from the campaign trails. Since the project launched in September 2019, more than 150 video packages and 3,000 raw video clips have been distributed to news publishers reaching more than 75 percent of U.S. households.
Video packages range from candidate profiles and debate recaps to deep explainers about campaign and policy issues. Stringr employs its network of 100,000 freelance videographers, or “stringers,” to capture election moments—from stump speeches to meet-and-greets—around the country.
For many local newsrooms, the availability of these videos may mean the difference between covering a political story or not. The 2020 election cycle has challenged the budgets of many U.S. newsrooms given the sheer number of candidates, debates, and events. But these newsrooms remain steadfast in their mission to provide high-quality, comprehensive coverage of the election. Mike Flood, founder of News Channel Nebraska, said the Project Stringer videos have helped his independent network source video and cover a nation from Nebraska, to the benefit of his viewers.
Project Stringer has helped newsrooms keep track of ongoing campaigns and gather information about the candidates’ whereabouts. For instance, The Boston Globe built a candidate database that incorporates Stringr video clips from speeches and appearances. The tool helps journalists quickly access transcribed footage from these events, making the reporting process a lot easier.
Matt Karolian, General Manager at Boston.com, said access to these videos has also provided a business benefit, allowing publishers like him to show more ads across more content—something that is important when running a news organization in the year 2020 when the industry faces so many financial challenges. He said that without being able to lean on this technology, an organization of their size would not be able to cover the campaign in such a meaningful way for their audience.