By: Joe Strupp
The now infamous video of a University of Florida student being tasered at a John Kerry event has not only shown the power of Internet video — it has also become a coup for The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun.
That’s because the most viewed video of the event, which has drawn attention nationally for the questionable tactics of police — and the intent of the student — was shot by a Sun freelancer.
“John Kerry spoke here and we staffed it and we did shoot video of it, and we got the incident that has taken on an interest beyond anything we could imagine,” said Executive Editor Jim Osteen. “It is the most-watched video we’ve ever done and it had the entire incident.”
Since the video was posted on the Sun Web site, Osteen said it has drawn more than 20,000 hits, a sharp rise from the usual 1,000 or so hits for most of the paper’s online videos. It also surpassed the paper’s usual video hit leaders, game day videos for University of Florida football, which bring in some 3,500 hits.
But the video’s real fame has come from YouTube.com, where it has drawn more than 840,000 hits, apparently more than any other video of the incident on that site, including the version linked from the Web site of the tasered student, Andrew Meyer.
The video can be found here
“One of our managers sent it to YouTube,” Osteen said. “The thought there is — if it is on YouTube, it brings traffic to your site because it says it is from the Gainesville Sun. There is a certain strategy there.”
Like many other newspapers, the Sun combined its print and online news desks into a continuous operation in recent months, which Osteen said included training reporters in video recording. He said all reporters are now outfitted with video cameras.
“The intent was to come up with a newsroom in which the playing field was level between online and video,” he said. “Our own version of a desk that would deliver news to online and print.”
In this case, the paper used a former intern for the Kerry segment. “He is part of our cadre of students who staff certain things,” Osteen said.