BBC News and its uncut interviews

There’s something very interesting happening with online video at the BBC News website. I’ve found two examples today of long, unedited interviews being posted as supporting material to the day’s biggest stories.
How long? Well, a typical ‘packaged’ TV news report is somewhere between 90 and 120 seconds. The typical live interview with a guest is roughly four minutes. But today on the website, there’s an interview with education secretary Ruth Kelly on school reform, clocking in at a big 5 minutes; and a chat with senior Liberal Democrat politician Vince Cable about Charles Kennedy’s future, a whopping 7 minutes (and 3 seconds! woo!).
This is a brilliant development for news video – I’m only surprised it’s taken so long. (Particularly since I talked about something similar when I worked at Sky News a good few years ago.)
The biggest difference between online and broadcast news is that online is driven by the user’s choice, not an editor’s. If I go to a news website, I click on the stories I want to read. If I watch a TV bulletin, I see the stories which an editor thinks I would or should be interested in.
Let’s extrapolate for a moment. I go to the BBC News website, and I see a headline. If I click on it, that’s a deliberate signal that I’m more than casually interested in the subject. If I then click on a ‘video’ link, and wait while it buffers etc, and watch the considerably less-than-HD quality pictures, I’m saying that I’m very interested in the subject. In which case, why not give me everything you’ve got?
This is a win-win situation. The interviewees can talk naturally, without worrying about placing ‘soundbites’. The viewers get all the depth they could want. The journalists get to show off their interviewing technique.
And of course, the BBC doesn’t have to worry about editing the footage afterwards. In these two examples, there’s no attempt to make a ‘properly produced’ interview: no cut-away shots to the interviewer, no ‘nodding dog’ cuts to cover up an edit. There’s actually something quite underground about pointing a static camera at an interviewee, and pressing ‘record’.