5 Tips To Unlock Your Inner Sherlock Holmes On YouTube

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This week, YouTube announced another original channel dedicated to news — this time focusing on investigative journalism. The I Files channel, curated by the Center for Investigative Reporting with Knight Foundation funding, will cover “reporting that digs deep into stories, gives background to complex issues, and reveals details that help us make better sense of our world.”

You too can make a video that provokes thought and asks questions. If you have a problem that needs an answer or are curious about an issue that a YouTube audience wants to know about, here are five things to consider when creating your investigative journalism video:

Do Your Research

Nothing is more sacred to any form of journalism than finding facts. Make sure that what you’re doing has facts that back up your arguments and remember to highlight the most important things you’ve found in your investigation.

Make It Compelling

Even with all the facts you’ve found in your research, you have to give compelling reasons for your audience to watch your video. Current issues of the day are always interesting but other issues that fulfill an audience who have curious questions are great topics for consideration, like “Why is sugar more expensive than corn syrup?”

You’re Telling a Story

Remember that with a medium like YouTube, you aren’t just spewing out facts, you are keeping your viewers informed (and if possible, entertained) in a way that excites them and leaves them asking for more. Extra points if you can tell a story in a short format. Look at each investigative piece as a narrative and how you or other people are finding solutions. If you have a knack for entertaining people, then you can translate that into a compelling piece.

Make It Visually Appealing

What makes your investigative video stand out besides telling a story and getting your facts right is eye-catching visuals. If you want a good example of a visually appealing investigative piece, check this video from the Center of Investigative Reporting on “The Hidden Costs of Hamburgers.” While not a documentary per-se, it uses animated infographics and visuals to point out the overall environmental costs of producing meat and consuming meat.

Don’t Hold Back

If you’re out trying to find answers or hold people accountable for their actions in your video, remember one thing: never hold back. When I say never hold back, I don’t mean attack them constantly but rather asking them the tough questions whether they will respond to them or not. Don’t produce content just to gloss over problems; get out there and explore. In the end, you will make your video informative, provoking and (if possible) entertaining.