Verizon Hyperlocal – 1 year later

We are coming up on the One Year Anniversary of our experimental hyper-local news project with Verizon’s FIOS network.

By any measure, the project has been a massive success and we expect it to continue and expand.

Here’s a look at some of the VJs and some of their work.

The team of 6 produces a half hour of original television a day!

Every day.

And they have for a year.

If you think that quality suffers with the VJ format, just take a look at what these folks are turning out daily….





22 responses to “Verizon Hyperlocal – 1 year later

  1. Michael if you can’t see just how much the quality of these stories suffers then you really are video blind. If any of my camera crew came back with shots as bad as this we would be having words about their future in news and a long period of training… and I’m not talking not a week in a VJ bootcamp.

  2. Dear Pencilgod
    I don’t think I am videoblind.
    But I think you are businessblind.
    These folks make these pieces every day.
    5 days a week, 52 weeks a year.
    It feeds a hyperlocal tv channel – with the advertising economics that go along with that.
    For what they do, I think the do an incredibly good job.

    However… now pay attention!
    I am going to offer you a chance to show that you are not as businessblind as I think you are.

    You see, it’s easy to make comments from the sidelines.

    So here’s your chance to prove your business vision, if you have any.

    Why don’t you pick up that pencil now (as you are Pencilgod). and sit down and crunch out for me a budget for a year’s worth of programming.

    Here is what you have to deliver:

    30 minutes of original content a day, plus advertising, graphics, music, etc. I want it completely assembled and delivered daily.

    There is a deadline because it is going right to air. So I need it cut to clock daily.

    I want all original content from local sources.

    You can crew it any way you want.

    You do all the research, the writing, the shooting, the cutting, the producing and deliver to me a finished, polished final product.

    I want it 5 days a week, for 52 weeks.

    Now you sit down and work out your bid for this project.

    Anyone can deliver this for $10 million a year, but that is not what the market will bear.

    So you tell me what YOU can do it for, at YOUR level of ‘quality’, and if you can match what these guys do it for, I tell you what, I will give you the contract for the next market that we open.

    My guess….you won’t even come close.

    So let’s see how business blind you really are.

    tap…tap….tap… Is that your white pencil I hear?

  3. Michael, those must be far be the worts videos that you have put on your blog yet, those VJ at the Travel Channel are better than those 3 pieces, and if you have selected those as “great” means that those are the best, I can just imagine what the rest look like.

    Don’t confuse business with the content of those videos, it takes just as long to do it right that it takes to do it wrong, all it takes is knowledge. Those guys had no clue of what they were doing, probably because they were trained by an instructor that had no clue either.

    They were there with their cameras and the material was right there in front of them. Forget about lighting or other technical shortcoming, we are talking about the ability to put a program together. They wasted what was front of them. All 3 stories would be a photographer’s dream with all the type of story and the available material.

    I particularly like the last one, I call it “The Ghost Ship” everybody is talking about it but it just can’t be seen.

    Sad that a self proclaimed video instructor would classify this as great work, real sad. God save us if this is the way that you envision the future of television to be.

  4. Hello Nino
    We have missed your comments for a few days.
    Where have you been?
    The same offer I made to Pencilgod, I make to you.
    Please…get in your bid.
    Also.. when are you going to open your own site to comments?
    I keep waiting for progress there but not much movement. Lots of ‘under construction’ now for months. I hope you are not so tardy on your shoots!

    I can’t wait to post my critiques of your work.

    Lemme know when I can start!!!

  5. Congratulations Michael. This is an example of VJ’s working – they come up with their own stories, shoot, edit, write, and crank out 30 minutes of finished stories a week each. There is no question that 5 times the time and 5 times the budget these pieces would benefit, but what wouldn’t. All you have to do is watch a week of Hyperlocal News and you will see that despite some technical flaws and sometimes rough production values, the overall value of having so much local content is great for the community.

  6. Michael, unlike you I work for a living and in spite of all your predictions and with your “successful” VJ revolution, this is by far my busiest year yet. I raised my rates 20% on the average so I could slow down a little, but that did not make any difference. If the work that you displayed is my new competition I can well see why my volume is way up.

    As far as my web site goes, unlike you my work comes from real “working” experience not from reading what somebody else did. And definitely unlike you, people who read my site regularly are actually learning and becoming more marketable because of the newly acquired knowledge.

    If you have anything to say about my work you can post it here or on B-roll or you can write me directly like hundreds of other do.

    I would really like to know what you have to say about my work, probably just as much as I would like to say about your work, but we have yet to see any of your work, and if is just as “great” as those that you posted above, well…..

  7. Dear Nino
    You have it backwards.
    I actually work for a living.
    As far as I can tell you just spend a lot of time online.
    Well, not that much time, because if you did, more of your site would work!!
    I don’t know if anyone actually reads your site regularly, (except me of course), because you don’t allow any comments.
    Of course, having seen the work that you show there (most of it is pretty old by the way – not only stylistically but really old), I can see why.
    I would love to post on your site, but you don’t allow that – you say it is because of spam, but we all know spam filters work quite well. Most good websites allow for comments – but not yours. Of course, if I were in your rather precarious position, I would probably do the same.
    Its pretty easy for you to make criticism. Anyone can – trust me. Delivering is another matter, but I am still looking forward to your bid and budget!

  8. Those whose response is based upon a certain world view isn’t applicable to a hyperlocal broadcast model. As Michael pointed out – the economics of how you perceive production should be done isn’t financially feasible at this level. The blech that is the current way of reporting news is a sad joke and although I may not agree with these specific production values, it was better than having to watch the same boring cookie cutter style that pervades news shooters.

    As methodologies are refined, the craft will follow suit – this is a natural evolution of the craft itself.

  9. Michael, I just copied what I posted on B-roll so I don’t have to write it again.

    Not that has any relevance to the subject in question but if you read that much about my blog you would have seen that I also said that I was tired of trolls and spams, like the porno that you found on your blog. Unlike you I work for a living, I have no time to waste with spams. Also many people are embarrassed to openly post question that they think are too dumb, most were writing me directly anyway.

    Me, censoring contents? Funny you of all people to say that, does this looks familiar? “Your comment is awaiting moderation.” This is what I see every time I post on your blog. You made a career from deleting posters that don’t agree with you.

    What could you possibly say about my web site, that you don’t agree with my lighting tutorials? Or you have a better lighting techniques? If you have something to say you can say it here (on b-roll) or on your blog or write me directly. Even thou you might not like what I have to say, I always answered to you.

    If you have anything to say you can say it right here, it’s your turf and you have a friendly audience, what a better place to put me at a disadvantage and make me look like an incompetent. What more do you want, it’s a win-win situation for you.

    Remember that I’m a shooter, my lighting web site is a free access and all I’m doing is sharing a small portion of my knowledge because people can use it. Four million hits in 9 months and over 100,000 regular visitors I would say that people in this business are interested in what I have to share.

    There’s nothing controversial about lighting so what would you be looking to post there is a mystery, also is a mystery of why you were trying to buy commercial space on my site.

    I wonder how you found out that my work is old, maybe be because I said it here a dozen times. At least I have some work to show, where’s yours? You must be confusing both of my sites, one is my personal shooter site and the other is On the lighting site everything is current or not more than 2 years old and just about every month there’s a new tutorial. The latest is about Chromakey lighting.

    My personal shooter site is pretty much just laying there. I can’t remember the last time that I had to send a client to see my demos. I can hardly handle the clients that I have and I’m not at all interested in new ones, so why waste time to upgrade it.

    The point of all this questioning of your is only intended divert the attention that the works of your VJs teaching really sucks. Again you are claiming that the cause is a low budget, so why don’t you explain in details how a bigger budget would have made those videos better.

    I could also tell you that with the same budget, same equipment and less time those clips could have been really good.

  10. yes yes… Like I said, you seem to have a lot of spare time on your hands.. .Well, retirement and Florida and all that, I guess. Why don’t you get me that budget when you can.

  11. What budget are you talking about Michael? For the stuff above, my time for one day with the small camera is $1050 plus ONE tape. Leisurely and with a long lunch included I plan it and shoot it in the morning and post it in the afternoon. What else do you want to know.

    The fact remains that even if you had a big budget neither you or your VJ would not know what to do with it, so don’t blame the budgets, the problem can be clearly seen in the final product, the total absence of proper training.

    If you insist in claiming that that you can do more with less you better learn how yourself before attempting to teach others because if that’s the example of your teaching these kids are in trouble.

  12. Read the second comment above. Then send me your budget. We’ll see how competitive you are in the real world. Oh, I’ll also need a reel. Something a bit more contemporary.

  13. Am I business blind? we I guess I must be a bit. It’s not something I excel at so instead of messing up my business I use and acountant. You know someone who is a specialist in his field. He does my accounts a lot faster and better than I could… I’m a cameraman.

    As to your business model could it be done better and cheaper? I filled in for two months at a production company that made a hour long daily news show for a corporate client.
    It ran in-house, only to be seen by the employees but the breif was “we have to be better than the BBC.” We had some good toys to play with and had a lot of fun… the days were full on
    So thats five hours of top quality show every week for less than $800,000US a year… I know because they were very proud of that.
    Cheap does not always = crap if it’s done right.

  14. btw Today I started at 5am to do a half day Steadicam shoot. At the moment I’m covering a plain old news shift, I’ve shot 4 stories and while I await the bloody P2 cards to be in jested I’ve got plenty of time to verbally spar with you before I head out tonight for a day… well night sports shoot, Steadicam again.

  15. I applaud the VJ’s. They are trying their level best to crank out a good story. Those are at best boring and most are just not watchable. Sorry. Those VJ’s would benefit from some training at a reputable shop. Right now Fairfax County Cable puts out MUCH more compelling and better produced stuff. Those VJ’s have a future in TV, but it is not in this capacity. And BTW Michael, don’t EVER critique those of us in TV news if this is what you consider good TV. I’d encourage people to send you a tape but I’m not sure you could handle what you’d see. The quicker these VJ’s find a good station with a good chief to help them with their craft, the quicker they will be the photojournalists they can be.

  16. OK Stephen
    Now I know you are a cameraman and not a businessman, so I want to make sure you understand what you are committing to.

    You say you can produce 5 hours of top quality (BBC Quality) television every week for a year for $800,000 US. That’s not a studio show. That’s field work – and BBC quality.

    That’s 260 hours a year, for $800,000.

    That means you can deliver an hour documentary – research, shot, script, track, graphics, music, narration, insurance, legal, edit and conform for $3000. All in – travel, meals, equipment rental, stock, everything.

    Is this what you are offering?

    Just want to make sure.

  17. I’m not committing to anything. I’m saying that’s what they say they did it for.
    Of course as an established production house they have other clients so some of the expenses are sheared. Maybe this was a lose leader? I don’t know. Some of it was studio but the bulk was field. They owned the equipment we used was that factored in? Again I don’t know. I was just a temp who worked my ass off… But their product was a heck of a lot better than yours all for an in-house video and to be honest Michael looking at the stuff you posted crap is still crap no matter how much you paid for it.

  18. P2 is done got to go but if you are talking real doco’s we budget on average $120,000 NZ per commercial hour, that real value for money when you consider that no one would play or pay for anything you showed us .

  19. Dear Stephen
    I very much appreciate your honesty, but I think you should stick to the camerawork.

    At $120,000 an hour, you are coming it at $600,000 a week and just over $30million a year for our small once a day show.

    $30 million (even in NZ dollars) is not only outside the ballpark, it is outside the state, the country and a bit off the planet.

    To help put this in perspective for you, when we started NY1 some 17 years ago, the operating budget for the year, (and that is for 24 hours a day – not one hour a day), was only $10 million. So you are off by a factor of almost 100x for that, and that was a very well funded project.

    Anyone can produce great television if you throw enough money at it. The new economics of digital cable and certainly online video place your costs way beyond consideration.

    However, have a good time on your shoot today.

  20. Hang on you are talking several different things. You asked for how much to do a half hour hyper-local news style show, that’s not my kind of thing but I gave you an answer of what I know a production house could do it for by shearing the expense of its operation over several clients by having staff work on different projects at the same time… something your VJ’s can’t do.

    Then suddenly you were talking about documentaries. That’s a different beast. I’ve yet to see you do anything that could be called a documentary let alone be paid for by a real TV station. It doesn’t matter how much it cost to make if you can’t sell it anywhere.
    Not everyone out there is as good salesman as you Michael. And that is what your VJ model relies on. You. Your ability to sell ice to an Eskimo. Why do you think it all falls over like a stack of cards as soon as you move on? You are an awesome salesman, I mean that, but your product is rubbish and without you everyone can see that. Everyone but you.

    In a way it’s not about the money, it’s about the vision.
    ITN was able to do C5 news for under $10mill a year, That’s a full growenup news show, ask Adrian how much better it looked than your VJ’s, I see he post’s here, that’s a network news show with two bureaus hourly updates a two hour breakfast show and a half-hour news show at night.

    Why do you keep insisting we settle for crap?

  21. Dear Jason (Foxphotog)
    For most of the people working on FIOS1, this is their first job. It is hyperlocal. It is a great opportunity for them and they have done a great job. As my ‘not being able to handle seeing local TV news’, trust me, I have spent my life watching local TV news – of all spectra. So please, by all means, send me your reel. I would be delighted to give you my unvarnished comments – as you have done so here.

  22. very interesting, but I don’t agree with you

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