NBC News says ‘hello” to the VJ


This was in this morning’s NY Times.

A half-page ad on page E4.

Looks like NBC News is dipping their toe in VJ training. Maybe more than it’s dipping. It offers a full year program ($34,000 tuition).

I am not The New York Film Academy. But it sure speaks volumes about where the business is going.


16 responses to “NBC News says ‘hello” to the VJ

  1. They seem to have plenty of people who actually know what journalism is in order to teach something too!

    Unlike other schools.

  2. Ironoically, it is The NY Film Academy that is doing the teaching. I know those guys. They make my travel channel academy look like Harvard!

    Funny that nbc would farm this out…but there you are.

  3. Those who said the VJ model would never work… were wrong. They can continue to bury their heads in the sand, but they had better wake up. The reality is… video journalism – one man operations – shooting with small cameras and editing on laptops – then transmitting via wireless – is here, and it will continue to grow.

    On the other hand – those who spelled the end of crews using large high end cameras, with reporters/producers, also were a bit over the top.

    Both methods will continue to be used. Both should be used, for different types of newsgathering.

    However, it is crystal clear that the VJ model is growing rapidly. With internet video publishing…there is no limit to the growth potential. That doesn’t mean all will make a decent living. It does mean they can try. Or they can do it as a side job, or as a hobby. Journalism has no barriers to entry.

    On the other hand….trustworthy, accurate and fair journalism is truly needed, and valued. That professional, ethical approach will be something people (hopefully) will seek out and support with money and views.

    Quality craftsmanship, creativity, content and commitment…I think…will be the things a person needs to provide… in order to be a full time video journalist.

  4. “On the other hand”?

    How many hands do you have?

  5. Those “talkies” will never catch on either.

    The sound quality is so much worse than the pianoforte in the front of the theater – heck, it even comes up on a platform automatically before the movie. How cool is that.

    Dan Rather gets my vote for accurate and fair. So does O´Riely (plus he has a certain way to treat a lady). That exploding car thing a few years ago is proof that the Pros are accurate, and people are lining up to hear what Couric has to say, and generally think she is more academically minded than Bush.

    I think 2 hands has been proven to be enough.

    What was the name of the newspaper guy who plagiarized several stories? I forget which paper.

    Our beloved Sandy Berger had no problems stuffing classified documents into his socks, and St. Scooter had a few issues.

    Yeah, 2 hands is plenty.

  6. If you are trying to compare accuracy between what lone VJ produce compared to others with an actual system in place to assure accuracy, then I think you are treading on very thin ice.

    For every example you give of traditional media being wrong there are hundreds to be seen on Youtube every day of down right lies.

    I think I know what your two hands are up to.

    Some would claim that you are proving the myth that overdoing that will make you blind.

  7. You know what they say. For every one you see….

    I thought I’d go look for a few more instances of Evening News hoaxes, misrepresentations, and complete failures of accurate reporting.

    There were so many web pages devoted to this that it would be silly for me to post them.

    I especially liked this piece from a Dan Rather New Years Eve 2000 broadcast….

    Eric Shapiro, director of CBS Evening News
    [It read] and CBS News Special Events, agreed that this technology has not interfered with the integrity of the news. Discussing the fake billboards placed in Dan Rather’s live New Year’s broadcast, Shapiro told the Times (1/12/00) that Rather did not know in advance about the insertion of virtual logos, though when he learned of it he did not protest. “These are not things he needs to worry about. He spends most of his time worrying about the content of the broadcast,” Shapiro said.

    We all saw how that worked out. They put the fake backgrounds in their news magazine 48 hours as well.

    With countless websites devoted to exposing serious news problems combined with the countless websites devoted to policing journalism of all types, I’d say that the VJ has a fair chance.

    If the big networks are pulling this stuff, then what do we think the guys in the local newsrooms are willing to pull off. They have to fill all the minutes they promised.

    By the way, the fox in fox.com (the website given by $) admits to being slanted in a conservative way. Oddly, a study of PBS stories that I read showed that they gave more airtime to conservatives – at least when that story was done.

    Very classy last two sentences – you manage to be snide and crass at the same time.

  8. Creative writing.

    You stretch for examples to prove your point and ignore the lack of credibility and respect for web based only product. There’s a reason for that lack of respect as well as for the lack of business models based on a product which has no value.

    If it had credibility it would make money.

    It doesn’t.

    I have to ask. So what new career is your wife now involved in? Has she moved forward with her VJ skills after 5-Takes? Or has her career path in the field reached it’s expected and predictable dead end after helping someone else make money off of her low paid efforts?

  9. Dear Foxy
    Just so you have it right:
    Mary (Jim’s wife) was never a VJ. She was a participant in a reality show – like being on Survivor. The intent in giving her a camera and a few days of basic instruction was so that she could vlog on the shows website. This was never meant as a career. Everyone who participated went back to their regular jobs. That was what they were supposed to do.

  10. She was never a VJ?!?!?!

    Come now sir. Are you telling me there is a difference between what you label a VJ and a TJ?!?!?!?

    You made loud claims about her and the other four “TJ”s on your own blog. Quite clearly extolling her new abilities with a small camera and laptop.


    Now you want to play word games and avoid admitting she was a VJ, oops sorry, TJ. As if there is any difference between the two when you teach your classes.

    Maybe she and her husband would be interested to hear how you now disavow her as being a VJ with VJ abilities. But somehow being a “TJ” is different? I think not and you know it.

  11. Maybe I am not explaining this clearly enough to you.

    The people who participated in all of the 5takes shows – there were four seasons, were quite clearly participants in a reality show. They auditioned for the parts. They were paid for their work. They were put through a very short bootcamp so that they could blog and vlog. The work they did with the video cameras was not part of the broadcast and was never intended to be. They were never trained as VJs.

    The show was shot, edited and produced by a team of 6 VJs who accompanied them on their various trips. These people were all trained professionals who shot and cut and produced video for air. The video was of the adventures of the TJs – people like Mary.

    Everyone who participated in the show had a very clear understanding of what their role was.

    The success of the online part of the show and the online videos – (far more successful than the show itself), promoted the Travel Channel to engage with us to created the Travel Channel Academy. The intent here is to create 1,000 Travel Journalists (tJs) in the next year.

    It is unfortunate, perhaps, that they use the same term TJ for both, although the concept of the Academy and the Travel Journalists we are now making did have its roots in the 5Takes experience, the expectations, and indeed the whole approach is radically different.

    Mary and her associates in all the shows were paid to participate, They applied and were cast for the positions. Their training was quite limited. When the show as over, the Travel Channel (and our) relationship with them ended. In one case, one of the TJs from 5Takes was actually hired by the Travel Channel on a one year contract to continue travelling around the world making videos. Tiffany Burnett, from 5Takes Pacific Rim. That event, in a way, became the model for what the TCA is trying to create.

    Is this clearer now?

  12. >Maybe she and her husband would be interested to hear how you now disavow her as being a VJ with VJ abilities. But somehow being a “TJ” is different? I think not and you know it.<

    Actually, as Mr. Rosenblum says above, we were fully aware of the job details when she *auditioned* for the show. Also, as Mr. Rosenblum says above, her travel writing on the web site was very well received (and the writing was what she really cared about). Her exposure as a travel writer was increased by a factor of 10 (or more) whether she ever chooses to publish or not, something that was certainly never promised or hinted at.

    She did get trained to make vlogs, at which she did just fine. The “log” part of vlog is the daily recording of events or opinions, also known as journalism. Some people make journalism a career, some do it for love or other reasons – Anne Frank created one of the most important journals of our time but she never got a paycheck. Indeed, she received a tattoo on her arm and a place in a mass grave. Who could deny that her writing provided an important view of Nazi occupation? Who would deny that her writing was more important than *any* story about a car crash, J Lo and Brad Pitt, or who won the World Series?

    All of the TJ’s on Mary’s show went right back to their normal lives. They were never promised jobs as VJ’s nor were they ever trained to be. They did meet Travel Channel execs (which was not promised), have their names in IMDB and Wikipedia (which is certainly a resumé enhancer) and something probably neither of us can say, got paid the equivalent of about twice what B-Roll lists as the average ENG salary for our area, and all while getting to travel all across Latin America which *is* her passion (with zero expenses).

    It is disappointing that the description of a J seems to be so often limited to comparing VJ’s to local news DP’s, though Rosenblum never limited the definition. I am willing to bet that the majority of people with journalism degrees would bristle at being placed in such a small pigeonhole.

    If you take away nothing else from this comment, please acknowledge the fact that Mary is fully satisfied with what she got with 5 Takes. Mary was and is a stay-at-home mom. She is also a traveller. She writes about traveling, which makes her a journalist, because she is creating writing using the 5 W’s. I love reading and commenting on this blog because it is something that is a fun part of my life. Mary doesn’t read it because her contract was fulfilled and she is busy writing about travel.

    With 500 channels, Fox and CNN seem to cover the breaking news stuff just fine. What will be on the other 498?

  13. WHAT?!?!?!?

    Now you claim you never said 5-Takes participants might have a career from their efforts?!?!?!



    “And if you’re good on 5Takes, it can lead to a career.”

    Your very words, sir, on your own blog.

    Now you backtrack from them, which to many of us, is no surprise.

    More claims from your own mouth which you then renounce. Too bad for you it’s too easy to look back and see the truth.

  14. I don’t think this was wrong. Tiffany Burnett, who was on 5Takes Pacific Rim was signed to a one year contract with The Travel Channel to travel the world and shoot videos and vlog. It is awfully good exposure (as anyone who has been on a network reality show will attest), but I don’t recommend it as a career path, per se, yes, it can certainly lead to a career if you are good. Why not?

  15. The point being, you claimed you never said it, then showed you did.

    Now you want to shrug your shoulders.

    You make claims then deny making them.


  16. I think I have explained it about as clearly as I can. Even Mary Sturges, who was on 5Takes did not think this was career training. None of them did. They all understood what they were doing (and unlike those who pay for the TCA courses, they were all paid for their participation on the show). I don’t know how to make the distinction any clearer. I might add that many of the people who pay to take the TCA course ask if they can be on the show. (maybe we can get it renewed). Being on TV is always good exposure.

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