Bootcamp

Wayne Woolley is a journalist’s journalist.

This Army vet spent years with the AP cutting his teeth as a journalist.

Now he’s a reporter for the Newark Star Ledger.

He’s done three tours in Iraq for the paper. And this isn’t Barbara Walters flying into the Green Zone for the afternoon. Each tour of duty in Iraq lasted 3 months. Now, he’s preparing to head off to Iraq for a fourth tour for the paper. But this one’s going to be different.

This time he’s taking a video camera.

But before he goes, vet Wayne Woolley has to go to bootcamp.

VJ bootcamp.

And he’s doing pretty well.

Of course, Newark isn’t Baghdad. But our 12 hour days and intense field work (not to mention the famous ‘public praise – public humiliation nightly screening sessions’ are as close as we can get. We want to make sure that Wayne is ready for combat. We think he’s getting close. After all, he isn’t going to be shooting some promotional videos for the Hilton Hotel in Florida. That’s not journalism. This is.

31 responses to “Bootcamp

  1. Since The Star-Ledger contracted with Michael Rosenblum I’ve been watching this blog…and the comments.

    Now that I have completed the Rosenblum five-day bootcamp, here are my thoughts:

    If you want your employees to learn videography, put them through this bootcamp.

    Here’s why:

    • Michael Rosenblum is a superb teacher. Whether he’s talking about video shooting, video editing or storytelling, he knows how to reach his audience.
    • His approach to teaching and videography is straightforward and sensible. Videography is a complex discipline, but Michael and his team broke it down into simple building blocks.
    • His team is incredibly knowledgeable, talented and patient.
    • In five days you may learn more than you might in two years of fiddling around on your own.
    • Michael’s critiques are brutal. Brutally honest, and importantly, brutally funny. Despite what the photos on this blog might have led some people to believe, we all had a great time. Other newsroom employees kept asking us what we were doing in the conference room, because we were constantly laughing, and learning.
    • Lisa will give you invaluable insights into videography, the world of storytelling, voiceovers and all things video (and she too will keep you in good humor).
    • Kelly will make Final Cut look easy. Really easy.
    • Steve will get you past the technical hurdles.
    • Alejandro and Graham will save your bacon if you get bogged down.

    The 20 people who attended this boot camp were, to say the least, very enthusiastic about it. One of them called it F***ING MAGIC.

    The majority of the attendees had little or no experience in video. Some had never used a Mac or touched a video camera. Some of the 20 already had as much as two and a half years of experience in videography, and despite this, they also walked away from it with great enthusiasm and loads of newfound knowledge.

    Two days into this bootcamp everybody had produced a short video with little or no assistance from the instructors.

    Four days into the camp they produced their second video. The difference between the first and second videos was, to say the least, dramatic.

    Simply put, if you want to learn video, get re-energized and have a lot of laughs along the way, pray that your company brings in Michael and company .

    As another attendee put it, this was money well spent.

  2. I appreciate someone who has never shot or edited video in their lives believing this is money well spent and they’ve learned how to do something.

    But the real test of value will be the ongoing day to day product put out by these students. And if it is enough to keep the Newark Star Ledger from going out of business.

    The money paid for these people to attend the course did not come out of their own wallets. The company paid for it so I find it difficult to accept the opinion of value from one who didn’t pay the bill or have any previous experience.

    Sort of like so many other students who have taken the bootcamp, started blogs expounding on how well it went and how much they learned, only to quietly disappear and abandon their claims, and blogs.

    A simple search back on this very blog to old posts by those blogging about success will locate more than enough abandoned hopes and claims to prove this point.

    The Newark Star Ledger has a long way to go to catch up to where so many of us already are.

  3. Considering what I see on Fox News, in terms of the quality of the journalism, the Star Ledger would have to go backwards to ‘catch up’.

  4. I appreciate your thoughts on what is and isn’t quality.

    The truth is by your own level of success at trying to run and keep a business open over the long term, you don’t seem to understand the balance needed to achieve quality and long term business health.

    The Star Ledger is like many newspapers. Hoping to skip ahead with a quick fix but a boat anchor called the printing press will cost them more than they can afford to stay alive.

    Television makes money without a printing press. It’s not a boat anchor we have to jettison to stay alive as a business. We already make internet ready content, both visual and print.

    Yes, the internet is the future. Who will be around for that future is the real question.

    Newpapers are trying to train people to do something they have never done before. Shoot video and audio, then edit it for presentation under real world news deadlines.

    They are learning an uncomfortable truth. They have a long way to go and are already so far behind others.

    Some newspaper employees will have jobs in the future. It just won’t be with newspapers.

  5. I appreciate this, but television stations have their own boat anchors, and they are bigger and heavier than the printing presses. The building, the transmission towers, the studios, the massively top heavy staffing are all a burden conventional television will have a hard time shedding.

    Newspapers have traditionally run leaner and better than TV as newsgathering operations. They have also had to confront the realities of the web 10 years earlier than TV stations, who are only just now, and begrudgingly, starting to think about this. Their rather anemic websites tell a very telling story about how far behind they in fact are

    Newspapers will, it is true, have to move fast and hard to shift. There is a market for local news gatherers. Part of that product will be video, part will be text. All will be online. If I had to bet as to who would be the better re-inventor, based on my own experience with both, I would put my money on the papers.

  6. The transmission towers still make money and require many fewer people to maintain and run them, unlike printing presses. No huge rolls of paper. No barrels of ink.

    The broadcasting still makes money and the overhead is much lower than that of printing presses. Not to mention when times are bad during natural disasters, the information still gets broadcast. The internet is more fragile. Less reliable with a shorter transmission distance even with WIFI.

    It takes both, broadcast and internet, to make money in the future. The internet still can’t generate revenue to provide a steady supply of news product.

    Newspapers are bleeding red ink. The press is killing them fast and the internet doesn’t supply enough revenue to keep up with the financial leak.

    The only option newspapers will have to make money is online. No other source to deliver the news. They can’t afford it and still claim to maintain all that high priced talent which has so much to learn just to keep up with today’s business realities.

    It’s just a matter of time before they fail. And all the VJ schools in the world aren’t going to help them make it over the long haul.

    Take a look at any tv web site. Local or network. What you see is a business that meets the never ending need for content. Not once a day like newspapers. We already are used to several shows a day with constantly updated information.

    Newspapers are not. Their web site employees are still unwanted step children within newspaper cultures.

    The old dogs can’t keep up with the need for content. Nor pay for the printing press and all those employees at the same time.

    Death is coming quickly and, even if they avoid it in the short term. Have limited possibilities to re-purpose whatever slow, and amateurish product they may produce as far as audio and video news coverage are concerned.

  7. It’s an interesting conflict and one without an easy solution on either side. Both institutions are going to have to undergo massive overhauls if they are going to survive.

    The New York Times, (who has a pretty good website, I think, and pretty popular as well), fields about 900 reporters a day to fill the newshole. WABC, by contrast, fields, 11 crews and reporters. Most local TV stations, as you know, get the bulk of their stories from the local papers, who generally got there first.

    The printed paper still turns a profit, but not so much as it used. In the meantime, newspapers don’t have ‘anchors’ that they pay $14 million a year to, (or a million for locals), which comes right off the top of the news budget. As long as TV news believes it needs a crew, a van, an editor and a ‘team’ to produce 1:20 of video, they’re going to find themselves unable to compete.

    In the end, there is surely a market for local news, but as both newspapers and local news head for the web, ‘this town aint big enough for both of us’. Will papers be able to divest themselves of their ‘printing press’ costs faster than local news can get rid of their ‘crews’ and vastly overpaid anchors? Not in my experience.

    But who knows how this will shake down.

  8. Let’s see. You say the New York Times has 900 reporters a day. Then you compare it to WABC and post a total of “11 crews and reporters”.

    HMMMM. Let me try out some basic math.

    How many salaries is that at the paper compared to WABC?

    Seems to me the TV side is still way ahead and better prepared for leaner times than that employee heavy newspaper.

    Not to mention, again, the existing video/audio skills and meeting the need for constant content compared to “dailies” from a newspaper.

    How about coming up with a real employee number to compare.

    How many employees are needed to run, maintain and supply a printing press?

    How many employees are needed to run and maintain a broadcast tower and transmitter?

    Again, the TV total comes in much lower than that of newspapers.

    Nope, in the future broadcast TV stands alone making money from more than one revenue source while newspapers disappear. Along with all those 900 reporters who used to work for a once a day newspaper.

  9. You want to pick and choose the expenses that the past has inflicted upon both media. You seem to sidestep the multi-million dollar anchors, the wasteful vans and crews, the paucity of coverage in every city compared to newspapers. In San Diego, (where I worked with KGTV), the Union-Times, the local paper, put 75 reporters on the street every day. No local station can afford to do that because of the way they ‘architect’ their video working.

    Both will have to undergo massive and traumatic changes. Who is willing to bite the bullet hardest?

    I can only say that based on my own experience, newspapers and magazines run to embrace this thing with open arms while at every TV station its meant dragging the staff kicking and screaming and objecting all the way.

  10. TV anchors make big bucks. So do big name newspaper columnists.

    So do newspaper editors and all of their assistants/secretaries.

    Add them all up! TV still comes in way under in both number of employees, equipment costs and salary costs.

    Then you add in the future survivability potential. One having to lay off a major portion of it’s labor force and retool/mothball it’s equipment. Along with retooling ALL of it’s employees with new skills based on a much lesser economic model.

    Compared to broadcast television. With existing skills and and existing business model which repurposes it’s existing higher level content.

    Sorry, newspapers still lose.

    You have no experience working with newspapers. You have little or no experience working in a local television newsroom.

    Newspapers and magazines have no choice. And it’s an ugly one for them that leaves lots of unhappy people without jobs.

  11. I need to be clear and politely said.

    You have no experience working in newspapers producing content as they have for years. You’ve only worked with video and audio.

    You have no experience working in local tv newsrooms other than coming in to teach your course and then leaving.

    That is not the same as doing the job day after day to meet the needs of running a successful long term business.

    I must add I am not trying to be insulting this morning. Just in the mood for discussion.

  12. Sorry, no newspaper reporter earns anywhere near what an ‘anchor’ at a network or even local news earn. There are no ‘producers’ at newspapers, or associate producers, or assistant producers. The infrastructure in TV news is fat. It could afford it because for years it was a cash machine. Those days are drawing to a close. 250 employees to put 8 cameras on the street? That is hardly cost productive. Newspapers and TV stations will both have to make massive changes. Can they do it? We’ll see. By the way, I have pretty good experience with both TV news and newspapers. I was the president of New York Times TV for 2 years. I got some pretty good exposure to a pretty good newspaper.

    I am finding this much more interesting than the usual banality of exchanged insults, and a lot more productive.

  13. I guess we can debate salaries and who does what where. I see lots more layers, and higher salaries at newspapers.

    But that’s from my limited broadcast point of view developed from brief stops in big city newspapers to shoot interviews and have handfuls of editors wanting to watch and hear what their employees say or do.

    Average newspaper reporter salaries aren’t that high. But they do buy homes and raise families on their paycheck. Something the majority of local tv news employees can not do. I’m not talking anchors with that comment. I”m talking reporters, producers etc.

    I thought I was specific about high salaries for popular newspaper columnists approaching, if not exceeding, those of TV anchors.

    Again debatable when it comes down to numbers. Add in the variable of network to local broadcasting.

    Which one are we focusing on. I thought it was local to local. Newspaper to local television news. If you compare network television to individual local newspapers, no matter how big, the comparison to me is the proverbial apples and oranges budget numbers.

  14. Newspapers and TV news have come from two very different starting points, although it increasingly looks like they are going to become head-to-head competitors in the not too distant future.

    I think it is fair to compare The New York Times, for example, to CBS Network news; while it is equally fair, I think, to compare KGTV to The San Diego Union-Times. Local to local.

    As both migrate to the web, and both compete for the same local advertisers and eyeballs, they are going to become head to head competitors: same stories, same beat, same community, same advertisers and ironically, same medium. Because while newspapers will have to add video to their websites, local TV stations will have to add text. And while newspapers are just beginning to grapple with the video part, I don’t think there is a local TV news station that has yet really dealt with the print reporting aspect – and a the occasional blog by a reporter is not going to cut it.

    As I said, we are in for a period of massive overhaul on both sides. What emerges in the end remains to be seen.

  15. bbc.com – the biggest news site in the world by a huge margin – 95% text/photo. The majority of stories have no video.

    daily.mail.uk – fastest growing newspaper site in the world – no video.

    another VJ goes to Iraq with a handicam – yippee! thinking inside the box 2.0

  16. Don’t you think it’s a bit surprising that the BBC website has so little video, I mean, considering what they do for a living? I do.
    I far prefer The Guardian, both as a newspaper and a website. While the Guardian does not give me the updates on Posh’s adventures in LA (something that no US Media seems to care at all about), or Cherie’s latest angst over contraceptives (strangely missing from both The Guardian and The New York Times), neither is anything I particularly want to see in video.

    In so far as the Iraq story is concerned, while there are many VJs in Iraq (the runner up in the Concentra Award this year was an AP VJ who had covered Iraq), I think it will be interesting to see what this veteran print reporter will do with a camera.

    As for thinking outside the box, perhaps after Iraq he can get video of Liz Hurleys’ cellulite (so far only covered in photos at Dailymail.co.uk)

  17. yes dailymail is completely outrageous – can a woman ever be the right size for the daily mail?

    but it’s now what – 5th most popular newspaper website in the US?

    The guardian – good call. The largest newspaper website in the world.

    No video on the front page. They tried it for a short time – a very short time.
    No news video: they do run the occasional news clip & they will even put their bumper on the front – but look down bottom left an inch or so below the video – “Reuters” – every time.
    The grauniad favor Multi-part video series on “learning to play the guitar”, “making your own videos”, “life in an african village”etc.
    Viewing figures so low that they won’t share them with anybody. Ask your friend how many views his clips got in the Guardian. shtum!

    I’ve researched the online video viewing figures for the 3 largest newspapers here in Colorado (all multimedia award winners) and for some of the smaller glitzier resort areas – they are bad. Unbelievably bad. The figures I mean – some of the videos are pretty good.

    Niche video works – no doubt about that. But locations aren’t niches.

    Do you know of any newspaper websites that have got respectable figures for online video viewing? I mean reliable metrics – not the “MBs downloaded” nonsense that Brightcove etc. use.

    Since the BBC switched to their new site/player they have far more reliable metrics and they are putting out way less video.

    But here’s the rub – way less video is translating into way more video views. They are building back public trust by essentially saying (and proving) that they will not publish video that wastes viewers’ time.

    If you want to see what a veteran print journalist can do in Iraq with a pencil – read “Imperial Life in the Emerald City”.

    By the by Michael – you are obviously a reader of the Daily Mail. I grew up with a grandmother and a mother who would have no other paper in the house, so I read it as much as anything for the nostalgia. What’s your excuse?

  18. I spent 5 years in the UK on the BBC project and got addicted to both The Daily Mail and The Guardian. Now I start each day with both. Thank god for their online website, because when I buy the hard copies down the street, it sets me back about $7!

    I think The Guardian (imho the best paper in the world), has done a great job with their video so far. I am particularly enamored with Gary Younge’s work, both video and his commentary. Take a look if you get a sec at his coverage of the primaries in the south. Some fantastic stuff that really speaks to the as yet largely untapped potential for the newspaper/video future.

    I don’t think we’re anywhere near where this will end up. Probably we’ll see a kind of print/video amalgam – a new grammar; a kind of blending of text, video and stills. I think there is a long, long way to go, but then again, if you had listened to radio in 1920, you would not have thought it had much of a future as a journalistic tool either,

    I agree with you that at the moment, most of the online journalism video is appalling. But that does not mean that the medium does not have potential, or that it will not get there.

    I have great hope for the future of this.

  19. Well, I am happy to see that my comment spawned an actual discussion, rather than the venom that is all too often spewed here in some of the comments.

    I would like to comment on $ first response.

    It is true that the money spent was not mine. However, I have managed millions of dollars a year for the newspaper for close to 10 years and I can tell you that we got bang for our buck.

    Yes, I am sure we have a lot of catching up to do with professionals like Lenslinger, who is a great shooter and a great writer I might add (Sorry $, but I have no clue who you are). But we did not expect to learn to shoot Emmys in one week. But one has to start somewhere, no? And most of us started in the basement on Monday and got out of the basement by Friday. We still have many floors to go, but at least we now know where we need to go.

    We could either choose to sit on our hands and do nothing, or we could at least attempt to get a share of the ad market by expanding our video capability and learning how to do it better.

    No video? No video ad sales.

    Will this save the newspaper? I have no idea. Did we learn a lot in one week? There is no doubt. We learned tons.

    Would I have spent my own money to learn what I learned? (And yes I know how much it cost)

    Absolutely.

    I will leave the rest of the discussion to others. I just wanted to make sure I was clear on the money vs. value issue, which is completely separate from the “will this save the newspaper industry” discussion.

  20. the best English language newspaper in the world – yes I think that is pretty much indisputable.

    At last a fact that we can all agree on.

  21. Didn’t have time to read all of the back and forth. Just a suggestion that some might want to visit: http://www.quantcast.com/top-sites-1

    It lists a few thousand of the top internet sites and gives quite a bit of info regarding who the visitors are. Just a selection:

    29. Cnn
    65. Newsweek
    66. Comcast
    69. Drudge report
    83. New York Times
    102. NBC.com
    110. USA Today
    133. CBS
    141. BBC
    145. Huffington Post
    146. Time
    160. Washington Post
    173. PBS
    174. CBSNews
    255. FoxNews
    308. Dallas Morning News
    335. Fox
    475. San Francisco Chronicle
    606. pcmag
    709. npr
    839. Newsday
    943. NY Daily News
    968. NYPost
    1,586. Houston Chronicle
    4,160. WCBS New York
    10.804. WNBC New York
    24,799. MyFox NY
    259,912. Fox 5 NY

    You can’t tell everything from these. The networks rank higher than the affiliates. 24-hour news channels like CNN rank highest of all. Figures from the NY ABC affiliate aren’t evan available since the only way to reach the site is through the national ABC site, which gets a numbers boost from having every one of its locals directed through the network site.

    However, this does make it clear that national TV sites are not much better off (audience-wise) than national newspapers and news magazines. However, local TV affiliates are running far behind their newspaper competition. Virtually every daily above 50,000 circulation in the New York metro area ranks ahead of WCBS (number one website in the market).

    Like I said, I didn’t read all of the comments. But the contention that TV is sitting pretty while newspapers swirl down the drain just doesn’t hold up. In the online world audience equals dollars. The major broadcasters are having just as hard a time holding on to their broadcast audience as newspapers are hanging onto print subscribers. Evidence is the local affiliates don’t have anymore clue on how to build an online audience than does newspapers. That puts both in the same sinking ship.

    Will video save newspapers? I doubt it. Unless video walks on water it can’t do it alone. Creating video content could help newspapers regain some audience at a critical time. But most newspapers are going to have to figure out more than how to use a camera and Final Cut to change the tide. What do TV stations have up their sleeves?

  22. The difference being the television sites don’t have to plan on having all their financial eggs in the internet basket like newspapers do.

  23. Murdoch finances the purchase of WSJ by selling off local TV stations.

    The WSJ has a niche audience, local TV stations/newspapers do not. This isn’t TV vs newspapers this is niches vs. geographic monopolies.

  24. I think you are right, and also, in the world of the web, I think it is as much about creating ‘communities’ as it is about the content… and then migrating them to the web.

    Murdoch probably feels that the WSJ community is very tight already and will follow him wherever he goes. I think (purely my opinion), that the readership of local newspapers is far more a bonded community than local TV stations, where I think viewers are more likely to migrate to a competitor faster.

  25. ‘television sites don’t have to plan on having all their financial eggs in the internet basket’

    Funny, that’s what newspapers were saying 5-10 years ago. That isn’t thinking ahead, that’s burying your head. All of our eggs are now in the internet basket, it hust feels more like a vise at the moment for those in the newspaper world. But reality is that everyone providing content – news or otherwise – has to compete on the internet playing field. It is the paradigm-changing distribution system.

    And let’s differentiate between networks and local broadcasters. How much content do locals produce? With cable and sat and internet as distribution, why do networks need local affiliates? If advertisers want targeted display – all evidence is they really, really do – how can broadcasting (one signal fits all) meet that expectation?

    Maybe TV isn’t feeling their eggs squeezed just yet. But that isn’t what I’m hearing. Maybe TV is insulated from the game-changing effects of the internet. But that isn’t what I’m seeing. Maybe TV has nothing to worry about. But if they cling to those old beliefs, I doubt it. My advice: Wake up and figure out how to use that basket, cause that will soon be the only thing that matters for holding all our eggs.

  26. perhaps Michael

    but the reason that the US newspaper .coms are being made to look like a bunch of muppets by the Brits is very simple.

    The brit newspapers have been building niches amongst their readership for years. The US papers have by and large been monopolies.

    Here’s how it works in the UK – according to Maggie Thatcher’s favorite sitcom:

    50 second clip – hilarious and true

  27. One of the things that makes the British papers great is that they are not afraid to take a position… and neither are their TV shows.

  28. Brit papers play to constituents – they are afraid NOT to take a position.

  29. Hi,
    Can anyone tell me what kind of camera they’re using in those pictures?

    Thanks,
    Dan

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