An open post to newspaper execs and editors about video.

Dear newsaper executive/editor

Video takes a long time to produce compared to print.

Cheaper, more flexible equipment and different styles and presentations will reduce the time it takes to produce, but the relative time cost is still a heavy one to bear in a busy print newsroom.

When you spend money on production kit, expensive or cheap, you are engaging with the need to develop but you are not helping bear that burden. You are helping bear the burden when you recognise that your staff need time to embrace and develop the skills required to produce multimedia content.

When you demand that your staff produce video with no training or no space to experiment, you are not innovating; you are undermining the confidence of your staff. You are helping bear the burden when you match your expectations with the capacity of your newsroom.

When you demand that staff produce video on top of their other duties without extra time, you are not helping bear the burden. You are helping bear the burden when you develop the space and editorial strategy that recognises the importance of producing content based on the idea rather than the deadline.

Quality work comes from pride in the job. Please, recognise the pride that your staff take in their work and the newspaper they work for.

Please, as well as investing in equipment, invest in building the capacity to let them gain the confidence they need to develop new skills.

17 Replies to “An open post to newspaper execs and editors about video.”

  1. Well… shot in the foot, at least. As a pencil-toting reporter, I sometimes had to take (still) photos and marvel at the photojournalists who shoot well and write well at the same time.

    I still have fond memories of the old-pro photographer for a competing newspaper who let me shoot my first picture with the lens cap on. (Without him, I might have gone through the whole roll.)

  2. Thanks for making a perfectly clear issue clear. The same has been going on in TV for years. First we had the camera crew (shooter, sound guy and sometimes light guy). Then it was down to the shooter who did it all. Then we had to run the live trucks AND set up the shot (and were expected to protect both ends of the cable from troublemakers). Now the reporter’s job has been added on. Stress levels are up. Quality takes a hit – both in aesthetics and contect.
    I may send your post to some news directors I know.

  3. Cyndy
    Im hearing a lot of the same issues from the newspaper people Im training that you raise. The idea that the technology is apparently ‘easier’ to use measn that you need less staff and it can be picked up at a moments notice. I think there is a bit of a reality gap on the part of a lot of execs and I don’t know if that is just ignorance or indifference.

    I do believe that some feel that this is an ‘experiment’ destined to fail and the attitude they put forward, and the demands they make, will result in that being a self-fullfiling prophecy.

    It just seems that it’s the journos/snappers , teh people at the hard end who are losing hope in the face of the politics.

  4. Bob

    I agree. There are so many multi-skilled people out there who just arent being allowed to participate and far too many who would let us all leave the lens cap on.

  5. We are going through a period of rapid change, and with that, many people struggling to understand and handle the new technology. There is a new generation coming up who lives in this technology, much like a fish lives in water. They understand the technology intuitively…they just need to be taught the ethics and writing part of journalism. I think all this will be moot in twenty years when us “old timers” are no longer around and the new workforce has taken over.

  6. I think you hit the nail on the head when you mention room to experiment.

    When you put cameras in the hands of anyone who hasn’t shot video before they are going to need –in part — to learn on the job. It’s a whole new form of storytelling. You can sit them down for hours of classroom-style training but they will learn a lot more by grabbing a camera and getting into the fray. And you have to be willing to let them fail — at first.

    Our reporters spent many months figuring out lighting, b roll and all the rest. And they’re still learning and improving.

    I think newspapers need to take advantage of these early days to not only find out what resonates with an audience multimedia-wise but to get as many people on their staffs proficient with video storytelling, both through training and practical experience.

    And even more important I think they need to get their staffs used to taking risks and trying new things. We would be foolish to think that video is the only new form of storytelling we’re going to have to learn.

  7. I agree Davin

    I’m not sure it’s a subtle point thats getting missed or an obvious problem that is ignored but the hearts and minds battle internally is just as important to the long term success of video as the content is.

    I agree with the grabbing a camera and having a go but a bit of classroom can take the edge for those having a ago, especially if those having a go feel the pressure of deadlines.

    Thats what bugs me so much about the TV vs. Newspaper debate. I think people are forgetting that there are real human beings at the center of this stuff. People who are scared that they will mess up and look stupid – on the web in the most public way. Thats challenging stuff and enough to make anyone think twice about just having a go.
    .

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