Recently the Boston Globe, my local newspaper, ran a 9,000 word, 2 part cover story in its Sunday magazine about a successful family physician who concludes at age 52 that he would be happier as a woman. Regardless of your personal views or politics, it has to be one of the most poignant and riveting pieces of journalism about transsexuals.
But what makes the piece truly winning is that the Globe went the extra mile by shooting 2 short videos (4-5 minutes each) to accompany each part of the story and featured them prominently online, just below the titles. The videos are shot in documentary style and while likely low cost to produce, they more than hit the mark.
What these packages demonstrate is how a traditional newspaper is able to offer a totally different (and I would argue, immeasurably more engaging) user experience with some simple video. This story in particular screams out for more than just words on a page, because it deals with a subject both foreign and somewhat mysterious to many readers. For example, what does the doctor look and sound like after the operations described in the article? Do her/his office colleagues sound convincing when they say they supported his sex change decision? Does s/he seem happy now, after all the traumas her/his family has been through?
These are the kinds of emotional subtleties that video is unrivaled at delivering. The Globe gets huge kudos for treating this story in a manner that marks a distinct break from traditional newspaper journalism. And it is yet another example of how newspapers shouldn't be counted out as dinosaurs yet in the Internet age. Broadband is offering them a whole new lease on life as trusted news and information providers. Shame on them if they don't seize the opportunity.