Newspapers to Video

Live from the newspaper

This week The Washington Post announced that they were going to train 300 people in their newsroom to be video literate. Across the country, newspapers are rapidly embracing video.

As newspapers and video migrate to the web, the transition of newspapers from purely print to a mix of print and video is inevitable. As inevitable is that they will soon become head to head competitors with local TV news stations, as they ultimately undergo the same migration.

If papers can get their act together soon enough, and produce a good enough product, they will drive local TV news out of business. Theres is probably not enough room here for both, and a newsgathering company that puts 300 cameras on the street will clobber a newsgathering company that puts 8 ‘crews’ on the street.

The bottom line issue is quality, because in the end viewers could not care less ‘how’ the story was produced- by VJ with laptop or conventional crew.

At The Newark Star Ledger, we’re gearing up for a late summer launch.

The first group of VJs has been trained, and now they’re out producing video. Yesterday, we screened the work of the first two weeks. Two weeks from training, and the results are pretty remarkable,

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by Scott Lituchy


24 responses to “Newspapers to Video

  1. Oh come on. Clean the @#% lens before you go out and shoot. Also is the ground on a 30 degree slope? Look at the verticals… it’s amateur night and if I never hear is boring emotionless voice again it would be a good thing.
    How can you even put this stuff up Michael? Is it the best they can do? If so that’s sad.

  2. Come on Stephen
    They’re 2 weeks in, and if you noticed last week, they kicked local TV news’ ass.
    It’s just the very beginning, so like they say, watch this space. Also, as you saw above, the Washington Post is now going to train and field 300 VJs.
    I think the handwriting is already on the wall.

  3. Pencilgod,

    As a long time reader of this blog I hesitate to post a reply because I don’t want to engage in a meaningless name-calling match.

    But why do you think that experienced newspaper photographers and reporters can’t learn how to shoot a decent video?
    The Detroit Free Press just won 5 local Emmys to go with last year’s national Emmy.
    We have Pulitzer Prize winning reporters and photographers at the Star-Ledger.
    Are the reporting and photography skills they have fine-tuned over the years now meaningless because they have picked up a video camera?

    Many of us have completely immersed ourselves in learning a new method of storytelling.
    We have taken the Rosenblum bootcamp, gone to the NPPA video workshop, watched and read everything Larry Jordan has to teach about Final Cut, scoured the Creative Cow and LA Final Cut User group websites, etc…

    With a little experience don’t you think we can pick this up?

    Today I saw a radio reporter friend using a cell phone camera to shoot storm damage. I’m not going to post a note on the radio station’s web site about the crooked horizon of his photo. When I got back to my car the radio station was already mentioning his web photos on the air. More people will probably see his cell phone photos than my “professional” photos. In a few months he’ll probably be shooting with a high end Canon camera and taking great stills.

    I have huge respect for my many good friends at the New York area tv stations. They have been very kind in sharing their knowledge with me (after a little ribbing about my “baby” camera).

    Maybe all of us in the news industry would be better off is we shared more meaningful insight rather than some of the comments that are often offered here.


  4. Look John I’m not saying you can’t learn shoot good video. I just have issues with some of the rhetoric and ‘training’ that Michael offers. I mean do you really need to do his $2500 course to learn to shoot like this?

    It took me three years of work and training to get to the point where I was a good shooter.
    For someone to say you can do it in two weeks is like a Kung Fu school offering to make you a Black Belt in two weeks. In a real fight you are going to get your ass kicked.

    Last week I was working with a guy who started in TV journalism this month. He doesn’t know how to shoot. He doesn’t know how to edit. He doesn’t need to. He is already turning out top quality work, better than anything Michael can show you, because he is working with professional shooters and editors. We will hold his hand and carry him until he learns how everything works.
    If your paper was really serious about video they would do it properly, not hire a consultant who can’t even move away from an overhead light.

  5. John,

    My experience with the detractors is that they’re willing to pick apart everyone else, but when asked to show how well they purport to shoot and edit video, not a single one (literally) has been willing to step up to the plate to support their position. That would place them under the same amount of scrutinization that they use on those whom they scrutinize. Not a strong position to be in if what you profess is not up to what you actually produce.

    Wonder why that is… 😉

    Of course the detractors are more than willing to give their unsolicited so called “Professional” perspective on how things should be done – within the confines of their narrow world view. They prefer to incite an ongoing flamefest to feed some need for drama in their lives instead of interacting in a constructive, professional dialog about how the profession is changing and how those entering the field can learn from those who are more experienced.

    I’ve determined if Michael brings this kind of vehement negativity out of those who should feel secure in their position – which includes personal attacks in public, he must be getting close to the mark on the issues surrounding this changing profession and why the solovj paradigm is taking hold so quickly – and jeopardizing what was perceived to be a secure profession by those in corporate broadcast news media.

    I take more stock in what Michael has to say than the detractors who say they shoot for a living, yet never display their real names and links to their work.

    And John is right

    Maybe all of us in the news industry would be better off if we shared more meaningful insight rather than some of the (negative) comments that are often offered here.

  6. As an addendum – there is context by which to base any sort of commentary – either positive or negative – regarding images both here and on the b-roll website.

    You guys really need to grow up.

  7. Cliff,

    I have really have no dog in this fight, but since you crawled out of your parent’s basement to lambast my ilk, let me weigh in.

    On second thought, I won’t waste my time. Let me just correct one of your many inaccurate assertions, that being the claim we in TV news never post our real names or work. (Sigh…)

    My name is Stewart Pittman. I work for WGHP TV. My station website posts my work and I often link to it at my blog ( Though I know it cannot compare to the self-appointed hobby masterwork you so indulge in, know that I proudly lay myself bare to any and all critiques, regularly collect a paycheck for my efforts and will still be doing so long after you give up video and embrace ham radio.

    Could we ‘detractors’ better handle the derision heaped on us by you neophytes? Certainly. Would it change the fact you’re an armchair wannabe without a SHRED of credibility?


  8. Cliff this year alone I’ve posted over 10 stories for you to look at… you haven’t commented on one of them. Why?

  9. Boring story.

    Shoots the whole game and uses three plays in his story.

    Two sacks of the focus woman quarterback and a dropped pass she through.


    Missed story focus on a quarterback who took her team to a 28 to 0 loss in a championship game.

    Dull, dull, dull.

    But another example of guaranteed job security for me.

    Love the big wheeled tripod in the newsroom pic above. It gave me a good laugh.

  10. Glad to be able to provide you with amusement,
    Please send us a photo of your own newsroom, complete with studio cameras.. oh yeah, and the cost of producing your ‘show’. We all need to be amused.

  11. One $80 soft light from a hardware store Michael. Thats all you would need to make that newsroom shot 100% better… well that and a little knowledge.

  12. Dear Stephen
    Actually, we are installing a complete Kino-Flo system in the newsroom next week, which will probably look somewhat better than the one light bulb you recommend. However, many thanks for your input never the less

  13. Michael I know that you and Stalin believe quantity has a quality all of its own but personally, I’ll take quality over quantity any time 😉

  14. Mao for quantity.
    Stalin for sense of humor.

  15. The cost for producing a show where I work is very different from what the above example costs you.

    Do you know why?

    The answer is more people watch what we produce than what you produce.

    That means more money to do better work.

    Having the goal of cheap always leads to failure.

    It doesn’t matter what yours costs.

    It doesn’t draw an audience so you, like any other business, has to live with what revenue you make.

    In your case it’s obviously a very small number.

  16. Having the goal of cheap always leads to failure.

    Oh really?

    Hello…Ray Kroc?

  17. Ray Kroc did not have the goal of cheap.

    He had the goal of a consistent level of quality for his product no matter where the consumer decided to purchase it.

    That is something very different than cheap.

    His burgers were not cheaper than many of his local competitors. What made him a success was marketing and delivering a product his consumers could count on every time they paid for it.

    Me thinks you continually can’t see the forest for the trees.

  18. I think that what we are talking about here is cost effective.

    The way conventional television news is made is not cost effective, in light of what is possible. It is a manufacturing process and for the most part a commodity.

    Yet it is still made in a piece-work basis, little changed in the past 50 years. I know that the technology has shifted – film to tape, linear to avid, but the fundamental architecture remains basically the same. This is the thing that must now be dealt with.

  19. That’s not true of everyone. I work at one network that for every dollar they spend making news they get one hundred dollars back. They are not the best or most exciting news program I worked for but they are solid in both journalism and craft. Sure maybe they can do it cheaper or flashier but what would it cost them in lost revenue if the public react badly to El Ceapo News?
    Lets face it Michael you track record of success is not good. Then again maybe a model rejected by TV will be good enough for newspapers. Maybe VJ’s are better than nothing?
    I have to admit it will be interesting to watch… I’m just glade it isn’t my money.

  20. Well, you keep watching, but overall I don’t think my track record is so bad. It is not easy to be on the cutting edge of a new trend, and you can get beat up and bloody out there, but after all is said and done… when I started this thing, not one person even knew what a VJ was. Now it has entered the vernacular. When I did my first station in Norway in 1992(!) it was an off the wall concept. Now, VJs are springing up everywhere like mushrooms after the first rain. The full VJ station is out there, but like all new stuff, its gonna take time to develop. I have had my share of failures – no one hits a home run the first time at bat, but overall, looking at the progress in the past 20 years, I think I did pretty well.

    As for the future, the technology just gets better and cheaper and easier to use, and the platforms and demand for content just keep expanding and so does the concurrant financial pressure.

    Nah. Overall I think I bet right on this one, over the long haul.

  21. I still don’t understand how you can claim you came up with VJ since one man bands have been in local television news for decades.

    I was a VJ if you will who shot wrote and edited my own news stories at my first paying job back in the ’70s!

    It’s nothing new and it’s nothing you invented.

  22. Many many many years ago, I had an old girlfriend named Debbie who you can today see on CNN. She’s a correspondent. I knew her before she got into TV, but she wanted to be a reporter, so we shot her into a small package, she made 100 VHS tapes and flew to Miami where she rented a car and started driving. When she got to Tallahassee, the local ABC affiliate needed a reporter, so they hired her for $17,000 a year and gave her a u-Matic camera, tripod, U-matic deck, light kit and a bunch of 3/4″ tapes and sent her out to report on her own, dragging all that crap. When she came back to the studio, she had to cut it all on an RM450. That was OMB.

    When I built the very first VJ station in Norway in 1990-1, I did it with Hi8 cameras. Small, light weight. No one had ever done that. I also made an entire station out of 30 VJs. No editors. no ‘on air reporters’, no nothing but 30 VJs.

    I don’t think anyone ever did that before, (but I could be wrong). Since then, I have done lots more in this same realm with the same motive – smaller, lighter, faster. I don’t believe in stand ups. I don’t incorporate them into the places that I do.

    Were there OMBs before I started this? You bet. Did I invent something different? I think so. So do a lot of other people.

  23. So VJ is defined by the size of the camera.

    Not by the job that a person is being hired to do?

    The person being hired is doing the same thing.

    Shooting, interviewing, writing, editing, voicing.

    No difference between then and now.

    Except you want to stake a claim to coming up with “VJ” and split hairs about how it’s not really one man band.

  24. Yes, that is essentially correct.
    Bill Gates did not invent software. He did not even invent MSDOS, but he sure knew how to market it. Steve Jobs did not invent the GUI at Apple or the mouse. Those came from Xerox PARC. But he learned how to market and standardize them. Same thing here.

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