“Fast” is becoming just as important as “facts” in media industry

By Martha Ortiz

Medellin, Colombia


Just the facts.” These words are printed on a magnet with a dark blue background from the Newseum in Washington, DC, that is in my office. “Facts, facts, facts” or “facts, numbers, data” were common quotes I shared — and requests I used — with my journalists when I was a chief editor. They brought discipline to our reporting tasks that always requested we get as close as possible to the truth.

I was recently in Buenos Aires for an event by AFP, and I stopped at Breve, an event by Meta about the short video trend. “Breve” is a beautiful word that means brief or short in Spanish. The host of the event was the interesting Julian Gayo.

Though news outlets must rely on factual reporting, it is more important than ever that they also deliver with speed.
Though news outlets must rely on factual reporting, it is more important than ever that they also deliver with speed.

Three seconds

Data suggests you have three seconds to capture the attention of your audience when you play a reel. That is it; nothing more. One thing is clear: In this case, the audience is asking you to inform or entertain them fast, fast, fast. These are the three new keywords.

In the media industry, we are used to working quickly to deliver quality journalism, especially breaking news, on any platform in minutes. However, the audience should experience a serene product or service.

That is not the case for this day-to-day, more popular format for news, brands, and influencers. Viewers want speed despite the fact authors have to invest time creating the idea, writing the script, producing and recording, editing with design tools, publishing on social channels, promoting, and cultivating relationships with their community.

Speed is an important player

Aren’t we all familiar with acceleration now? It is that great tool that helps us be more efficient managing that limited source called time just by allowing us to listen and view productions one-and-a-half or two times faster than regular speed. We are not talking about distortion here but rather perfectly understandable messages.

I am a big fan of listening to audio messages sent on WhatsApp at 1.5x speed (at least), and I confess that sometimes if feels strange to listen to them on normal speed. Meanwhile, I am selective about using this for podcasts. It depends of the author and the subject. However, right now, I don’t see myself using this feature with movies since part of the talent of the artist to me includes how they use their voice to transmit the message, emotions, and personality of the character.

But, what about comprehension? When it is too slow, it becomes difficult to understand the message because you fill in the blank spaces, and it is natural to fill the holes either with your own ideas or by getting distracted. However, when it is too fast, it is hard for the brain to keep track of everything, and you start missing important details.

Back to short video, Gayo noted four key elements for this multi-media narrative: community, focus, acceleration, and simplicity. I agree, but I would also include and start with purpose because that unique imprint of the protagonist also works as a guiding element in the long run in a very competitive environment.

The media industry is everything but boring

As leaders, we have to adapt ourselves and our teams. Reels are certainly an interesting option to explore in our companies to create engagement with the news, increase conversation, and create communities. And, we can also offer them to our clients for content marketing.

I guess we are now adapting to environment with this mantra: “Facts, numbers, data, and speed.”

About Martha Ortiz

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