Some say Daniel Defoe was the father of modern journalism, so it's kind of fitting that I was in the pub that bears his name when the conversation turned to what a busy news year it's been, and not yet May. The pope's resignation, Syria, Nelson Mandela's health scares, the Boston bombings and the death of Margaret Thatcher but to name a few.
And even as we were competitively calling out events - North Korea! The Financial Crisis! - it was images that came to mind: the white smoke signifying a new pontiff, pictures of Nelson Mandela leaving jail a free man all those years ago.
Seems my friends at the Daniel Defoe aren't alone in their thinking. Research the we at the AP commissioned recently from Deloitte took a hard look at the way we're consuming news in 2013 and found that three quarters of people in the UK who watch video news online think it improves their understanding of the story, and even more (85%) said video brings a story to life.
Our study, which we've called "White Smoke, the new era for video news", set out to demonstrate the increasingly pivotal role of video in online news sites. It examines consumer demand for video news content and the implications for broadcasters and publishers.
More than a quarter of people told us that they'd go elsewhere if video wasn't available at their preferred news source. This isn't surprising. Remember how "chimney cam" became compulsive viewing as we waited while the conclave elected a new pontiff? Now imagine it without the chimney. Or the cam.
With the smart device revolution in full swing, the number of people looking for video news on-the-go is only going to escalate: already 89% of tablet owners say they watch news video on the device, and the introduction of 4G and better screens mean Smart phone users will be consuming news video in similar quantities soon.
The survey was eye-opening in other respects, too: online video seems to be attracting a new demographic to the news: young people. While current 16 - 24 year-olds (like generations of 16-24 year-olds before them) appear to be the least interested in keeping up with the news, two thirds say they watch video news online at least once a week - the largest of any demographic. Can we extrapolate that young people need video to engage with the news? Not quite - but the kernel of an idea is there.
This is a shift in news consumption that's undoubtedly still in flux, but the growing ubiquity of smart phones and tablets looks to be impacting the way we view news, both literally and metaphorically. Watching global events unfold before our eyes in real-time is fast becoming the norm and with increased broadband and 4G connectivity, we'll increasingly be doing so wherever we are, whatever we're doing.
Any news publisher with a presence online is already thinking about how they can add video to their journalistic tool box. They understand that a picture paints a thousand words - and a moving picture can paint a thousand more.Suggest a correction