Category Archives: VJ

Welcome to the Video Revolution


call now. operators are standing by…

The Travel Channel Academy is a great course, but its also expensive.

$2000 is a lot to commit for a novice, (not that we don’t have our share of novices in the course).

But what we do have is a lot of folks who would like to get a sense of what this ‘video revolution’ is all about without having to spend four days in intensive bootcamp-like training.

So we’re going to do just that.

In partnership with the City University Graduate School of Journalism, Jeff Jarvis and I are going to offer a 1-day course on the basics of the video revolution.

Learn and see what it’s all about.

First class:

Date: Saturday, March 28
Time: 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: CUNY Graduate School of Journalism
219 W. 40th St., New York, NY
Cost: $195 (10% discount for CUNY J-School alumni)

Back To You, Joe


Ace VJ Joe Little

Well, naturally, the day after I post on TVspy that one of the prime differentiators between VJ and OMB is that we don’t do stand-ups, KGTV/10 VJ Joe Little sends me a link to a Youtube posting that proves me wrong.


For the most part, I don’t like stand-ups. For Joe, I am willing to make an exception.

When We Come Back….


Now this…

Usually, when we teach a class at CUNY’s Graduate School of Journalism you get a fairly wide range of students.

Yesterday, however, we got two students who were also on the faculty.

One of them, Barbara Raab, took a year’s sabbatical from her full-time job as Senior News Writer and Web Editor for NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.

Now, NBC is a pretty progressive place to allow one of their Senior Writers on Nightly to take off for a year to teach at CUNY. But Raab took advantage of the space in her career to not only teach, but also to learn new skills – thus was she in our class.

We are great believers in get your hands on the tools and go. We have people shoot on their very first day and cut on their second. By the end of the second day, everyone in the class has shot and cut, scripted, tracked and produced a one-minute story.

All on their own.

As the VJ movement gains traction, many stations will be filling their ranks with 22 year olds who grew up with the technology.

That’s great, for the 22 year olds, but not so great for the viewers.

You can teach anyone the requisite skills to shoot and cut broadcast quality work in about a week. (Below you can see what Raab did on the very first day she ever touched a camera and a laptop edit.  It’s a little rough, but for first day, first time, not bad.  She will get better).

What you can’t teach is years of experience as a journalist.

The trick is to find the people with both the journalistic skills and experience, but also the desire to embrace a new way of working.

It’s a killer combination.  And it shows a pretty clear path to where the future lies.

Take a look at this. It’s a little raggedy, and it’s not exactly a breaking-news subject, but it also has many of the hallmarks of NBC Nightly News.  The potential is there.  And this is only after two days.

Pretty good.

Not yet good enough, but pretty good.

The Prize


We’re giving it away…

Six years ago, I met Philip Hilven for a drink at the Heathrow Hilton.

Philip was working for Concentra, one of the larger publishing companies in Belgium.

Concentra was in the newspaper business, but they were dabbbling in local cable TV. Philip had heard my speak in Barcelona a few years before, and had grown enamored with the VJ concept.  After the drink and dinner he invited me to come to Belgium and to work with Concentra.

The stations (there are now four), built entirely on the VJ model, are today the most profitable part of the Concentra Media Group.

The company was so taken with the concept, that the following year, they started offering a prize for the best VJ work – first in Europe, but starting last year, anywhere in the world.

Today, with the dollar where it is, and the Euro where it is, the prize for 2009 is currently worth $15,000 (plus an all expense paid trip to Brussels for the awards ceremony, March 5th).

I invite anyone in the VJ business to submit their work.

Here’s the info

Looking forward to seeing your submissions.  And maybe seeing you  in Brussels in March as well.

The Repository of All Human Knowledge


what would you like to know….


It’s one of those late night Science Fiction movies in which a time traveller goes into the future and discovers that the whole world has become a land in which learning and reading and knowledge are forgotten.

Then, our hero discovers a secret cult, buried far away, which has committed to memory all of human knowledge and struggles to keep the flame burning.

You have seen this plot a thousand times, in a thousand different iterations, from Matrix to The Time Machine or Fahrenheit 451.

It resonates so well with us because it is based on history experience.  During the Dark Ages, the vast reservoir of human knowledge was indeed reduced to a few monestaries across Europe where monks kept the flame of learning and reading and writing alive while the rest of the world was plunged into darkness and ignorance.

Today, these nodes of knowledge are not monestaries, but newspaper newsrooms.

There, compressed within a few thousand square feet you have the combined residual knowledge of an entire community. People who have, quite literally, spent their lives learning about and studying the arcania of the city council meetings, the local schools, the local public services, the local water works, the bond issues, even the local restaurants or high school football teams.  It’s pretty amazing when you think about it, and a resource of unimaginable value.

Unimaginable value if you know how to mine it.

Taking their knowledge and printing it on paper with ink is probably not the best way to exploit this asset in a digital age.

We are facing a curious reversal of valuations, and it is a relatively new phenomenon.

Not so long ago, the machinery to print and distribute this information was the rare and expensive part of the news business.  AJ Liebling said, “freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one”.

Liebling, who wrote for The New Yorker, and who died in 1963 lived in an era in which presses were notoriously expensive.  The Sulzbergers could afford one. The rest of us could not. And this had been the case since Gutenberg first put paper to inked letters five hundred years ago.

Ironically, at the same time, information was considered to have marginal value, at best.

The basis of the newspaper’s economy was founded in the value of the presses.  Again, Leibling:

“People everywhere confuse what they read in newspapers with news.”

Now we are suddenly in an era in which anyone can publish globally any time (like this blog), for free.

The value of the press is next to nothing. But the value of the information?  Priceless. What, after all, is Google, but a residual font of information?  Information that people want.

The newspaper newsroom is a goldmine of local information, and it is information that people want and are willing to pay for.  But it has to be organized.  The way it is organized now, on paper and ink, and sold once a day on the streetcorner does not work. It is archaic in a web world.  But that does not mean that the information that is there, and the knowledge that is there has no value.

On the contrary.

It is not the staff in the newsroom that needs to be chopped away.

It is the press and the paper.

Hello Bolly


She’s the little old lady from Utta Pradesh now…

James MacPherson is the publisher of an online website called Pasadena Now. is causing a lot of buzz in the journalism community. Not because it’s hyperlocal news. that’s old stuff.  But because MacPherson has announced he is going to outsource the reporting jobs to India.


MacPherson believes that since City Council meetings are streamed on the web already, there is no need for a reporter’s physical presence in the room, and the goings on can be covered just as easily from Bangalore.

Well, maybe

His move has caused such as stir that New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has already picked up on the story.

MacPherson’s idea may or may not work, but it gave me a moment to think about the whole notion of outsourcing video production in general.

I am on the board of a wonderful organization called Video Volunteers.

It was founded a few years ago by a graduate of one of my seminars, Jessica Mayberry, and today it is a world leader in empowering people in India with video cameras, laptop edits and the skill sets to tell their own stories in video.

Some of our trainees have now been making video for several years, and are quite good at it. So good, in fact that I think perhaps it is time for them to break out onto the world stage.

It is fine to give out video cameras and teach people to ‘tell their own stories’, but after a while, perhaps it is time for them to start and tell other people’s stories as well. After all, that’s what happens when a crew from Atlanta or New York flies half way around the world to shoot stories in Thailand or Rwanda for ITN or CBS or the BBC.

Well, maybe it is time for our Indian camera crews to get into that business as well.

Of course, in India the median income is an astonishing $115 a month.  That’s one hundred fifteen dollars a month (just in case you thought that was a typo).  So my guess is that our Indian camera crews will be pretty competitive… and quite happy to work long and hard hours and produce a superior product.

At those rates it might just be worth it to fly the crews into the US for work here, in fact.

Bollywood indeed.

The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You

First, many thanks to Buck over at for finding this.  Nice research!

Austin likes to think of itself as ‘different’ from the rest of Texas.

And now, The Austin American-Statesman takes a giant step in moving from a paper to a digital information center.   They not only reprint articles from The New York Times and The Washington Post on a regular basis (hey, this is TEXAS!), but their websites, both the paper’s and their entertainment website, Austin360 are clean and heavy on blogging, video and citizen journalism.

As for their point about local TV news vs. newspapers…..

In my experience most local TV newsrooms start their day by scanning the paper for stories to cover.  I have never seen a newspaper scan local TV news for what to cover that day.