A VJ Story


Foot Patrol by Raul Gallego Abellan. 

On March 3-4 we will conduct what I hope will be the world’s largest global VJ conference, DNA2008 in Brussels.

As part of that conference, we will award our annual VJ Prize of $14,500 (at current exchange rates) for the best VJ piece globally.

Over the past few months, we have received hundrcds of submissions from all over the world.

The results are extremely gratifying.  When we began the award, five years ago, we got just a handful. The number, the range and the sheer quality have increased by leaps and bounds. We know we are on the right path.

As the Chairman of the Awards Committee, I can’t divulge my votes, nor even my preferences.  However, between now and the award presentation, I want to share with you just a few of the entries to show you the quality of what we are getting.  We have come such a long, long distance since the first days of this concept – since we first gave video cameras to pros like PF Bentley, Dirck Halstead of David Kennerly.  I had imagined we might one day get to this point, but I am just delighted to be here.

And as Winston Churchill said (in one of my favorite quotes), it is not the beginning of the end, it is, however, the end of the beginning.

Take a look at the work of Raul Gallego Abellan. Raul is working for The Associated Press Television News as a videojournalist.


39 responses to “A VJ Story

  1. what criteria do you use to decide if a piece is “VJ” ?

  2. shot, reported and cut by the same person.

  3. Honestly I could cry. All that hard work wasted in the poor delivery…

  4. I’m not saying its bad (although I wish he had spent more time on the IV’s, they are about a 1/3rd of the story and are just wasted… but there may have been a reason so…) it’s just with better editing a good story could have been a GREAT story. If I handed in pictures like that and an editor turned out this, there would be blood on the edit room floor.

  5. ?????????????????????????????????????????
    I was trying to figure the purpose of showing this clip, maybe Michael was going to say something about it, like this was before the maker took the VJ video course and now he will show us the after version.

  6. I take it you don’t think its very good.
    PLEASE show us your own reporting from Iraq.
    Can’t wait!
    So far, all I see is some very old lock off shots on a tripod.

  7. Michael, you got to get over this puberty thing of yours of I show you mine if you show me your.

    I guess you never served in the military, well I have. The preparation for walking without getting hurt was extensive and the conditioning was brutal. This was 40 years ago when I served during the Vietnam War, preparation today must be hi-tech. But we’ll never know by looking at your video. And BTW, in the Army we also created training programs (film) on proper foot care for infantrymen; in the Army walking is a science.

    In production, regardless if its commercials, news, documentaries or pornos, they all must tell a story, the more detailed and informative it is the better. You follow a pattern in describing that story; the most basic is that if you tell it and its there then show it, if its important then build a sub-story. Second rule, if you already said it, move on, don’t repeat it unless there’s a good reason for it, the need of filling six minutes worth of video is not a good reason. In that video there are at least 8 sub-stories within the main body that the maker missed and the story keep repeating itself over and over. I’m not even talking about the aesthetic of imaging. It takes just as long to do it right that it takes to do it wrong, all it’s needed is knowledge and proper training.

    Anyway, back top the original question, any particular reason of why you picked this video?

  8. I like the access, I like the characters. I like the feel of being with the troops. There are lots of things I like.

    But you know what I notice? You have been commenting pretty freely here for more than a year. You have yet to find anything praiseworthy…praiseworthy at all…except your own work.
    Why do you think that is?

  9. I’ve been around as a VJ for some years now. I’ve done VJ-work for TV Limburg in Belgium, very familiar to Michael. 🙂
    I love this piece. I’ve never seen a piece on Iraq like this one.
    So why these kind of reactions? Are you behaving like scary cameramen? If you’re doing a good job, you shouldn’t be scared …

  10. Michael, you are a piece of work. You’ve been blasting and making every attempt to downgrade my profession for years, you’ve been using outdated and fictitious information to make yourself look pretty, you’ve been offending, patronizing and attempting to ridicule everyone that doesn’t agree with you and the moment that somebody gives your own medicine back you get all offended and bent out of shape.

    Maybe you didn’t notice it but I just gave your little cult here a couple of pointer on how to improve their work. Granted I’m not exactly Mother Theresa but criticism can either be taken constructively, the intelligent way, meaning take what they need and discard the rest, this however is the only group that I know that take everything destructively, actually I’ve been giving pointers all along but you have created such an hostile environment that everything said by any outsider is interpreted as an offense, that’s your brainwashing at work, make them believe that they don’t need anything else but your teaching, trust me, you and them can use all the help you can get, don’t turn anything away.

    You don’t like what I say, then quit bad mouthing my profession, you can always delete my posts if you don’t like it.

  11. I would never delete you nino. You speak far too elegantly for yourself.

  12. See, you finally found something that we have in common.

  13. One of the biggest problems with the VJ thing is that you are only as good as your weakest skill. Shooting, writing and editing. If one is sub par all suffer.

    To me the 5min story is one of the hardest when it comes to editing. Pacing becomes vital. This story isn’t paced well and it affects the rest of it negatively.

    Also the IV’s are just awful. In a 1:50 story they would have been less annoying but 5min? Just doesn’t work.

    When you train these guys do you tell them to buy a portable DVD player with video in? About $120, with a self contained battery and they plug into the output of any camera so the VJ can stand on the right side of the camera, get a left to right eye line to mix in with all the right to left ones and do a nicely framed IV from there and still keep an eye on the shot. It’s not hard to do with a bit of thought.

    BTW I’ll see if I can get permission to put up one of the Afghanistan stories I’ve shot for the NZ military.

  14. LOL – Nino you really are full of yourself…

    The all knowing all seeing Nino freely imparted some of his great wisdom – without asking whether we actually wanted it or not.

    Did you ask if anyone wanted your input? Nope – but then what else is news.

    You’re one to speak about disparaging the profession or speaking about adolescent comments.

    Michael’s right

    You have yet to find anything praiseworthy…praiseworthy at all…except your own work. Why do you think that is?

    Yes Nino – Why does it seem that you can rip on those who freely post their work, but you seem unwilling to do the same?

    Put up or shut up. I’ve posted – others have as well. We may not be experts, but at least we’re trying.

    It appears that you or any of the other detractors aren’t so confident in your skills to actually put your work out in to the open for others to see. What are you afraid of?

    That speaks volumes in and of itself.

    Let’s see what other lame adolescent comments can be said about those who don’t share the detractors narrow world view.

  15. I just stumbled across this blog and it looked kind of interesting, then checked some of the comments for this post. It made me laugh, I thought the marketing forums were full of flamers and very opinionated people but I see they are everywhere.

    I guess everyone is passionate about their own business/industry. Some also like to impose their own opinions on others and do not take criticisms well, but that is another way we learn and as long as it is not perceived as conceited all opinions can be useful.

  16. Please Cliff, don’t try to get into a shouting match with me because I can make you look even more stupid that you really are, which BTW is not a very difficult thing to do.

    When I was saying that idiots are those who take everything destructively and could not see a good thing if it bites it in the ass I was referring mainly to you. You are the poster child of hopelessly bad work and chronic unemployment.

    Just go back and look at your posts: “Right Michael” Well Said Michael”. You are the king of ass kissing, you haven’t said anything yet in your boring endless posts to indicate that you have any clue of what to do in this business. Michael is married already, move on to some other guy.

    Now if you want to see my work, for the hundredth time see if you can understand it this time, write it down. Is nino-g.com. and this also goes to you Michael considering that you consider my work antiquated, another lesson for those of you here who wish to one day actually make money, right Cliff? When you display your work you don’t do it for your own ego, don’t do it for you colleagues or to prove to VJs that you are superior, none of these things will make your checkbook happy, you do it for your clients, you display what you clients need and want to see and that’s based on the market that you want to pursue or the market’s demand in you area. Also those demos should be based on the average budget, don’t show jobs that had extravagant budgets just because those came out the best. Don’t show something that that you will never be able to duplicate on an average budget, in few words keep your client’s expectation average, don’t overdue it or it might backfire on you.

    Of course Cliff, you will never have have to worry about all this.

  17. All those supposed entries and this is what Rosenblum posts as VJ work for others to see?!?!?!

    That is a sad admission on his part and shows, once again, how little he knows about the realities of broadcast work. Now if one is looking for a life of Youtube, Rosenblum is your man!

  18. Actually, it was not selected by me, but as a finalist by the judging panel at dna2008. Among those on the panel the head of Reuters News, the head of BBC News, the editor of the biggest newspaper in Germany (what do they know compared to you?). I mean, they’re Europeans! You are FOX NEWS! BBC News? ARD in Germany? (Oh yeah, also Turner Media). Well, you can see the full list at http://www.dna2008.com.
    Why don’t you come? There is more to the world of Journalism than Bill O”Reilly.

  19. Hey Nino
    Just a small piece of advice (not that you listen to anyone). On your website, all your videos are loaded as wmv files. This is a real pain to screen them. Have to first download and then put through Fetch. Takes forever. You should tell your kid to redo the site so that it embeds a player and you can see stuff right away.

  20. scotyken, let me explain to you something, Michael is a smart puppy, the hostility and controversial environment that he created wasn’t accidental. Hear me out, everybody complains that there is no good news on TV and they only reports bad news, the reality is that nobody will ever watch good news, people love dirt. Michael knew well that the only way to generate traffic, lot of publicity and exposure was to make whatever he was doing controversial, and he succeeded. You see, he could delete all my posts but he is too smart to do that, just look at the responses, when we don’t get into any shouting matches nobody reply to his posts, but when we do he generate traffic, just look at the number of responses with any controversial posts, believe me, he loves it.

  21. Thanks Michael, it’s being redone, I’m waiting for client’s written permission to post new material. When that site was done it was the latest thing. Truthfully I haven’t given that site out in years as I no longer pursue new clients, but I know I should keep up with the latest.

  22. Michael wrote:
    “Just a small piece of advice (not that you listen to anyone)”

    Trust me Michael, don’t let what I write fool you, I got where I am by listening.
    “criticism can either be taken constructively, the intelligent way, meaning take what they need and discard the rest”.

  23. “Actually, it was not selected by me, but as a finalist by the judging panel at dna2008. Among those on the panel the head of Reuters News, the head of BBC News, the editor of the biggest newspaper in Germany”


    I think we went over this long time ago. European television evidently has a lower standard than the TV here in the US, hence your VJ success there and not here. None of those clips that you have displayed on your CitizenNews or on your web site would make it on TV here. The problem is the same as it was indicated above, it takes VJs six minutes of video to create a 90 seconds story and TV time is too valuable to waste on wasted footage, they will have to learn to condense their stories to make it marketing viable in order to keep viewers interested. That video above gets boring after the first minute, I kept waiting for something to happen but it didn’t and that’s what turns viewers away, if you have to make it six minutes long make it informative and it will be marketable, if not chop it down.

  24. Dear Nino
    Did you ever hear the phrase “de gustibus non disputandum est?”
    It is latin for, roughly, there is no accounting for taste.
    First, the VJ movement is global, not American. In fact, America it turns out, is a latecomer here and still lagging. So we don’t apply American standards to our awards. (If we did, no doubt, video of Britney Spears throwing up would win).
    Second, when it comes to standards of journalism and news and quality, I will take The BBC and Reuters over Fox. Wouldn’t you?

  25. Michael, I would and I do it everyday, I love watching the BBC, I also pay extra and get RAI as well as some Spanish language stations form Europe on my cable. European news is honest and unpolitical, they say it like it is. The fact remains that BBC videos are boring and long and that’s fine because Europeans take it a little slower that we do, don’t forget that I was born and educated there. Regardless, we don’t dictate what the market should do, I don’t consider myself that powerful or important that my believes will change a billion dollars industry, I’m nothing more than spec of dust so I can’t afford to be an idealist, idealism will not put my kids thru college. I have to go with the flow. As repugnant as it is to you of us actually taking assignments, this is what we have to do to feed our families, and trust me it is much more difficult and it takes much more skills to please others than to please yourself. This market do not take the VJ style that European TV or the rest of the world takes, so I’m not about to move, I shift my skills to what pays, if one day they’ll tell me to give them a six minute videos, be assured that it will be very informative and not repetitive or boring.

  26. Nino
    I understand having to go to work. But…
    Fortunately when we give awards we don’t use market share as a metric. Otherwise 101 Ways To Lose 50 Pounds would win the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.

  27. I understand what you say about market share and no reasonable person could disagree with what you say about Europeans being so smart.

    But in the 4 months that series has been posted on YouTube less than 1500 people have watched the whole thing.

    Is that not a concern?

  28. Yeah
    I think its too bad. The #1 view on Youtube, of course is that guy who does the dance routine. 72 million and growing. Well, that’s our culture for you. Pornography also vastly outsells Hollywood, but we don’t give Academy Awards to porno films… I mean, not yet.

  29. Yeah
    I think its too bad. The #1 view on Youtube, of course is that guy who does the dance routine. 72 million and growing. Well, that’s our culture for you. Pornography also vastly outsells Hollywood, but we don’t give Academy Awards to porno films… I mean, not yet.

  30. Then Michael, European standard are even lower that I thought they were. When I look at a video, mine particularly, I don’t look it for what it is, I look for what it could have been given the available time and resources. I look for my mistakes and learn, be sure that it will not happen next time.

    Being repetitious usually means that the maker run out of ideas, also meaning that he had plenty of time to do it differently, but it didn’t, he just did not know what to do, why should he, his teacher told him that this is very good, where’s the incentive. “Hey look, I’m up for an award, I must be good”.

    That’s no Video Journalism, that’s point and shoot journalism.

    It just happens that I’ve been there before (Army) in a different era, however if I didn’t know anything about the subject I would do what you find so unnecessary, “research”. If the maker would have done some research he would had discovered that in the army foot hygiene is of paramount importance. You can be a soldier with genital herpes if that’s the case and still be useful but if you can’t walk you are useless, in fact when I was in the army poor foot hygiene was a court martial offense. They get a lot of training on how to take care of their feet. Second, was that an exercise or a combat patrol? Soldiers do not just walk; they follow a specific formation with a point-man in the lead that sets the pace and they are all spaced far enough apart not to make an easy target. Those guys did not look like they had much of a formation, looks more like they were doing it for the camera. Pacing is important because if one of them is exhausted and starts slowing down the entire unit behind will slow down and the point-man and forward unit will be all alone, not a good thing if they are engaged in combat; and in combat you don’t scream “slow down” you walk very silently. Also one guy doesn’t just stop, if you are exhausted you signal and the entire unit comes to a stop.

    Does that cheap $200 editing software that you mention in your video also have graphics or text? Who are all those mystery people that spoke in the video? Can they say their name, rank and what their job is? And where’s the officer in charge? He is not only in charge; he is also responsible for the welfare of his troops. What does he do to make sure that none of them gets exhausted to the point that he would jeopardize the safety of the rest of his unit. Also they have one or more medics assigned to each company; their job is to give first aid but also to make sure that everyone stays healthy and foot care for infantrymen tops the list. And how did they get to be so conditioned, what type of training did they receive to arrive to that point, and what would happen if one of them gets hurt and can’t continue, do they leave him behind? I’m sure they have some emergency provision. From looking at that video you get the impression that they just grab a bunch of soldiers and told them to take a walk, not very military.

    I just scratched the surface, I could go on and on about what was missing from that clip to be a decent piece of journalism, like everything else on that video, we’ll never know, six minutes is a long time in television. Just think, the only difference is knowledge and skills. You as a teacher should know better.

  31. Michael is this you? Are you being held captive? Did Nino force you to say that?

    I wanted to speak to the other Rosenblum – the one who makes America’s Funniest Travel Movies.


  32. This week, a man eats a living giant tarantula and a woman sets herself on fire! Tune it!

  33. A quick critique….. since you asked.

    CONTENT: A bit weak. There was no context. Where were they? What were they walking for? Why? Adding a bit of where and why would have made me a bit more interested in the story. Context was needed. Stronger Content needed. It needed to be focused. Find the story within the story. Too many times…(I have watched thousands of stories) and too many times…is a story not focused. These types of “broad view” stories do not not compel viewers, nor teach them. These broad view stories are not really newsworthy. There is no real focus. They needed to focus on perhaps one man… and find something more compelling to hook this piece of “journalism” on. It does not matter that this was Iraq. A story is a story, no matter where it is shot. Unless the video presents compelling images (this did not) the story must be strong.

    CRAFT: Going outside, then inside and then outside was distracting. Perhaps that was the only option. Then….cover more bites. Have fewer characters (perhaps even one.) Other than that, the interviews were steady, the shooting was fine…for climbing a mountain. I really liked the natural sounds of them breathing hard. That was the best nats sound.

    CREATIVITY: Obviously, some stories (war coverage) does not need creativity. Yet, this story did attempt to be creative. Music was used. It was not needed. That added a syrupy, artificial flavor. Look for natural sounds…natural music perhaps…to convey truth. Canned music works…on light features, and documentaries…but is many times used as a crutch. It is an immature way of producing video journalism. I know. I can dig out dozens of music videos. (good ones too 😉 Until I was told it was a crutch and never to use music… I relied on music a lot. Now, I rarely use it in features. There was also some editing to the music. Some of the creative edits…to compress time passing… did work. But the music was not needed.

    COMMITMENT: Any time someone works in a war zone… that is a strong committment. Good job. And hiking a mountain….takes commitment. Good job. This person is committed…. now they just need to mature, focus, find a story within the story, tighten up the storyline… and they will do better.

    That’s my 2 cents.

  34. is the woman naked?


    I got a better one – girl has her pubes shaved on camera while reading the weather.

  35. “This week, a man eats a living giant tarantula”

    That would be Andrew Zimmern for the TC

  36. Naah…
    That would be “What’s Your Trip” with Andrew Zimmern, airing this spring

  37. Michael, who came up with this one? The only connection to showbiz that Zimmern is known for is dealing with disgusting and revolting things, and now he is hosting “What’s Your Trip”? I can just imagine viewer’s expectation on this one.

  38. Ah….that would be the network.

  39. Hi! I m Raul Gallego Abellan de VJ that did the story taht people is discussing here.
    Its good to see all the coments, the goods and the bads.
    I must say but that this is just one part of a 34 minutes story. Lots of the down or negative critics are that there is not enought information about whats going on… so its normal because this is just a little part of a big story.
    Please have a look here and then you can judge better!

    all the best!!

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