He’s a columnist, he’s an actor, he’s Pogue

20 10 2009

New York Times technology columnist David Pogue provides an entertaining example of how traditional media outlets can deliver video.

Most great columnists have a pronounced tone of voice and identifiable writing styles in their articles. Pogue is no exception, and he manages to translate these qualities into his videos. Each week, he contributes a print column, an e-mail column and an online video, and in my opinion his videos are his most compelling product.

His videos usually weave humor and concrete analysis. He shoots himself in singular locations but with several different angles, limited soundtracks and frequent sound effects (crack, boom, bang). While the quality of his videos is usually low by industry standards, they are wildly popular because of their humor and Pogue’s ability to create engaging stories within the format. The amateurish qualities of the shots actually help the videos as they create a contrast between the professional columnist and his chosen delivery method – akin to a famous chef like Mario Batali filming food tips at a McDonald’s.

Take, for example, his video “The Great Netbook Compromise.” The video features limited locations off a highway, cheesy acting and great comedy. None of this could be accomplished in his written work, and he still manages to educate viewers about the good and bad of laptop form factors. When the iPhone came out, his review of the revolutionary device stepped apart from others’ reviews and even their unboxing videos because he created a larger narrative around the review. In his video, “The iPhone Challenge: Keep It Quiet,” he poked fun at Apple’s secrecy, posturing its PR team like Secret Service agency protecting a device that threatened national security if it was discovered. Viewers enjoyed a short, funny narrative combined with an important device review.

As mainstream media increasingly looks to video to deliver stories, Pogue provides a great example of how to take advantage of the medium. Rather than just retell his written stories, he optimizes what video offers him and actually acts to embellish the story and make it what it’s often not in print – entertaining.




2 responses

20 10 2009
Toni DelRio

Never hurt of this guy, he is awesome!!!! I love the review about new digital cameras. I think I’ll become a fan.

Your post just confirms the importance of humor to communicate, I think this is universal and works pretty well if content is valuable for the audience.

Great post Paolo!

21 10 2009

Yes, David is quite entertaining is his videos! And should you ever have a chance to see him do a presentation in person, you must do so! I did this summer on Cape Cod and laughed more than I have with a couple of comedians that I’ve seen. He’s also seemed very fan-friendly and that was much appreciated by folks attending the lecture.

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