A Question from the newspaper folks

“That is so true. I just had a reporter say to me: “I used to know what I was doing when I left the newsroom. I had a pen behind my ear and a notebook in my pocket. But now you want me to carry a video, use a tripod and a wireless mic and somehow still come back with a meaningful story. I can’t do it, unless you want me to dumb everything down.”

Management likes to say, oh he’ll get used to it. But will he? For those who say you should take management out of the newsroom to shoot a video, I would add: yeah, and make them shoot stills or report a story at the same time. And don’t make any errors, or come back with a still photograph that is any less than the usual standard for the paper.

I think for reporter video to work, they have to take the camera somewhere interesting. And be prepared to use it at a time when they most want to be writing stuff down. Otherwise, all we get are these soundbites from the town council chairman after the meeting, the crime scene when nothing is happening. Maybe some of you are getting enough hits on those videos to prove me wrong. Maybe that is what our web users want. I don’t claim to have the answers….”

– Carolyn Moreau

The comment above comes to me via the newspaper video newsgroup NewspaperVideo@yahoogroups.com

It is a meetingplace for the hundreds, if not thousands of newspaper people who are now suddenly being taken into the VJ world.

Some of this is happening with proper training (we are doing a few of these oursevles), but a great deal of it is happening on an ad hoc basis.

This is an inevitable consequence of cheap cameras, easy edits and a web that demands more and more video. And as newspapers migrate to the web, they inevitably also migrate to video.

The problem is that newspapers are confusing video with television. All too many of them expect their print reporters (or photogs) to snatch up a video camera and make a tv like spot. Some even have on-air reporters doing stand-ups.

TV was great for TV and print was great for print, but video for online, particularly for news, is a new animal, and a new grammar is needed.

What we have to develop here (and stand by, some samples are coming in the next few days), is a whole new appraoch – a kind of tapestry that blends video and still and text online.  Television, of course, must do video.  A few tried TeleText when cable first came out and it was a real no go.  Newspapers of course must do print.  But the web and seamlessly move between the two, or better yet, blend them.

What I would suggest for reporters being handed video cameras, of course, is to call me up!  Beyond that, they should use the video camera as a kind of digital notebook.  Good print journalists have been using tape recorders for years. Now they can record both sound and images as a kind of notebook of impressions and sound bites.

When they get back to the newsroom (or the laptop) to write their stories they can ingest their video notebook and scrub through it to job their memories as they write.  When they get to something that is much better told in video than text, they can shift media online.  From text to video and back to text.

It works.

When shooting the video, the key word here if focus. Not just focus the camera, but focus on what you want to shoot and what you need to shoot.  Minimalism is best.  Look at  any 1 minute piece on air.  One you really like. How many edits are in it? 20? Probably.

It does not take that many great shots to make a great piece.  So calm down.  Take your time. Think.  And then record.

This will all shake out in the long term, but getting there.. particularly without training, is not going to be easy.. or pretty.


7 responses to “A Question from the newspaper folks

  1. Pingback:   Doing video, doing down designers and ducks. by andydickinson.net

  2. The problem is that newspapers are confusing video with television.

    This is where I think the b-rollers become vehement about what they do. They are confusing what they do with what print and former print journo’s (like myself) are moving towards. Even then, they become so focused that they equate all of it as being one and the same.

    I myself am willing to learn, as opposed to those who are so entrenched in their traditional ways of shooting. I’ll be at the VizEd’s Advanced Web Video Journalism Workshop in May being taught my David Dunkley-Gyimah and Robb Montgomery to understand better the process of shooting video specifically for the web. Whether is it text, Slideshows with audio, or video, the new way of delivering visual informational content has changed.

    For what I’m moving towards, Internet Broadcasting, no matter if it’s for newspaper or long form niche content sites, is the new form of visual content distribution.

    The detractors continued denial isn’t going to change that fact.

  3. Sorry Cliff. There is no “Internet broadcasting”.

    That is the whole point of the Internet and a key component of Mr. R’s claims.

    You of all people are aware of the little or no money available to those who produce for the Internet alone.

    It just doesn’t pay all by itself.

    The Internet is one small component which can enhance an already existing, and profitable, business model.

    Even Mr. R knows he has to team up with real broadcasters to make a living and get the biggest audience possible. Which, in his case, is still very small.

  4. I’m with $. What did change ever do for us?

    If change doesn’t support us – we shouldn’t support change.

  5. Pingback: Web Video Journalism versus TV Broadcast | bluprojekt/Cliff Etzel - Solo Video Journalist

  6. Detractors, et al – I’m giving a blanket “if you say so” (sarcasm mine) since your responses are a rehash of the same diatribe – different day.

    What I find oddly humorous is the fact that you find the time to refute what we believe with regards to the new Solo VJ paradigm, yet the detractors hide behind false names, website links, etc.

    As I have said already – no credibility on your parts. Those of us who participate in civil discourse are open books about who we are and what we do – we acknowledge our weak and strong points without condescending remarks – the detractors hide behind their aliases without ever showing their so called professional work and use ridicule as a false sense of superiority – what are you so afraid of?

  7. Cliff, I even have my pictures on my sites, (and my resume too, I don’t tell clients to call me about my accomplishments, education and training.)

    You are the one wearing a mask.

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