A Guide For the Perplexed

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Francisco Aliwalas, videojournalist.

There seems to be little question that the ‘VJ’ Revolution is going to happen.

It is, of course, more than VJs. It is the entire move to a digtal platform, video online, on phones and all that these new platforms bring with them.

There is one certainty in all this: the demand for content will only increase.

Yesterday, in the RTNDA session, Joe Vazquez asked me a question about VJ work. I gave him a snide comment asking if he wanted to be a journalist or an actor. It was uncalled for. Talking to him afterwards, I came to understand that his question was driven by a real anxiety about his profession and what was happening to it.

So let me give him and others who have real concerns some real answers.

First, I have no doubt that this is going to happen, but it is not the end of journalism and it is not the end of television. It is, I think, something very different and something much better.

Almost to a person, journalists I have taken through the process have, in the end, told me that they felt like real journalists for the first time. Freed of the emcumberances of cameraman, sound man, truck and so on, you can work a story the way a print reporter works a story – fast, personal and alone. It’s a nice feeling.

How do you get there?

The first thing you have to do is to become comfortable, then literate in the medium in which you have been working for so long. For former camermen or editors the same holds true, but backward. And, like someone who longs to be a writer, the best advice is to start writing.

The low barrier to entry is your key to success.

As I told Joe Vazquez after our session, “go get yourself a camera, get yourself a laptop and just start on your own’. Start making stuff.

If is not so difficult to see that the future belongs to those who can make content – good content, with little or no assistance from anyone else.

For cameramen or editors it is the same. Start shooting and writing. Start making product. Post it.

I am always happy to look at stuff, but so will anyone in the business. And at the end of the day, viewers don’t care if it was made by one person or a team of 20, so long as it holds their attention.

So sorry Joe. Happy to help any time.

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