By Tim Bajkiewicz, Virginia Commonwealth University
Doral Chenoweth III, a photographer with The Columbus Dispatch, made Ted Williams an overnight Internet sensation when his video of the homeless man with the great voice went viral. (See the newspaper’s special report page.)
The pertinent details shouldn’t be lost on media professionals: Chenoweth is a newspaper photographer who produced a short video with a Flip cam and posted it to his paper’s website and YouTube. What was once the sole domain of TV news–shooting, editing, and distributing video–is now very democratized and being used by TV’s traditional competitors.
As of this writing, the 1:37-long video on YouTube has 7.5 million hits–up from 5.5 million this afternoon. According to USA Today, Williams is to appear on NBC’s Today Show tomorrow morning. Job offers are pouring in.
Viral videos are nothing new, but too many are cats doing funny things instead of being tied to news. This story has several elements making it media- and public-friendly: A down-on-his-luck guy who has a natural talent and is ready to get back into the game after drugs and alcohol (Williams said in the video that he’s been clean for two years).
News professionals should take heart. Even in this media-saturated world, compelling stories can still break through, even with a guy and a Flip. It’s great that all this happened because Chenoweth was doing his job–reporting about his community and the people in it.