The VJ Debate

I’ve read some of the posts on TV Spy and MediaLine regarding the new concept in television journalism called “vjs”. Most of the discussion is from veteran tv reporters who hate the idea of picking up a camera themselves and doing the job of two people: reporting and shooting/editing.

Media Channel has a new article on the vj concept now in use at KRON in San Francisco.

Now, let me say I think the vj concept is a good idea. For some stations, it’s a great idea. It’s what I’ll be doing in Nashville at WKRN.

I admit, I didn’t see myself picking up a camera and going it alone like I did back in the days of WOWL, WJSU and in college for LCNC. I hated it back then and couldn’t wait until I earned my stripes enough to find employment at a station with bonafide news photographers.

Of course, back in those days one-man-bands had to lug around a 75 pound record deck along with the 50 pound 3/4″ camera. Standups were almost impossible since you couldn’t look through the viewfinder at yourself standing 10 feet in front of the camera.

Technology though, makes a one-man-band not only possible, but easy. The camera I’ll be using, Sony’s new HD cam weighs about 10 pounds. It has a flip screen which can be rotated to frame yourself up standing 10 or more feet away from the camera. It has an auto focus feature so you don’t have to zoom in and focus on a light stand and then try to stand where you placed the stand.

Editing though, is the real key to the vj concept. Instead of fighting for one of the 5 edit bays back in the newsroom, vjs have their own Dell laptop loaded with the editing software. You can edit back in the newsroom or in your car, a library or even a Starbucks. You can feed the story back from there too via a broadband connection.

Now I undertand that some reporters are resistant to this concept. I understand why some reporters are leaving stations that make the change. I’m suited for this and have been a one-man-band for the past year and a half working for my own company.

But I’d love to open this vj concept up for debate and discussion. I know some reporters and photographers check this blog from time to time. What do you think? Now, what do you think as a viewer?

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2 Comments

Filed under Misc.

2 responses to “The VJ Debate

  1. mike

    As a viewer, I realise that this is going to become a cost-cutting measure in the long run. Stations that spend the money now to “flood the zone” and give me lots of stories will discover they can still fill air time with “press release” and “police blotter” stories but with fewer vjs and then send more money to the bottom line.

    Sooner or later, more regular folks will learn how to have a camera handy and how to shoot some news-worthy event. Then some station will figure out how to find, upload and make good use of viewer-shot video. (It’s sort of happening now with viewers’ weather shots.) Then you’ll see a level of community reporting not yet available.

    In the short run? I welcome our new VJ overlords.

  2. Brian Daniel

    I just read “The World is Flat”, on the bestseller list, cannot right now remember the author… the same guy that wrote “The Olive and the Lexus Tree”.. or vice versa (that was a joke).. Anyway.. the world changed forever when we countries had a global platform. Not long ago, you only had to be a company to have a global platform.. Now, with items like the technology you discuss that makes VJ’s work, you only need to be an individual to have a global platform, and in fact you have an advantage over anything bigger than an individual, because they have layers of red tape that disrupt the process. Allows for a much more widely represented viewpoint and with it honesty at some level. Folks in Iraq get hold of real news instead of what comes from the government, etc..

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