Newspaper video: Expensive kit is an ethical issue(apparently)

A couple of articles that I wanted to get on the blog – and off my chest – both from the Digital Journalist.

First , in a column piece PF Bentley asks that we “ Just Say…..Wait a Second”

So now you need to make the switch to video and the bosses are asking if you can do “that video stuff” on some ultra-mini DV camera and edit in iMovie. Ask them if you could shoot the big game with a digital point-and-shoot. Hey, cut costs more by only using Photoshop Elements. Finally, tell them you could further cut costs if they’d move out of their plush offices and sit in the newsroom with a plain, unfinished pine desk with a rotary phone with dial-up Internet.

Big Game!!! Not in the middle of Lancashire mate…

To be fair Bentley makes a good point

I got some news for you all: In the next few years we will be moving out of broadband and into fiber optic or powerline Web delivery which will enable full HD Web video and network broadcast online. This means that you are going to have to compete for viewers with 5,000 or more “stations” online. You better have some really good stuff to show ’cause you are not the only game in town for ADVERTISING DOLLARS

And his point is that you need good kit to do that.

I got some news. No you don’t.

I thought we had this discussion already. It would be nice to have all the greatest kit in the world but you do not need it.

When you are getting started paying 1400 dollars minimum just for a camera just on the off chance that you will be competing with “5,000 or more “stations” online” is false economy.

Ive said a number of times before that people have to invest in this stuff. Newspapers are proffesionals and want to produce proffesional content . An expensive video camera or edit suite doesnt do that. By that argument I could be a millionaire just by putting some fancy pants on.

You need to start with confidence. You have to start with training staff and getting them on board so you can get some of that ‘good stuff’.

Otherwise you are left with a bunch of gear heads shooting big game.
And the second post?

James Colburn has (perhaps) an ethical dilemma. ‘Great ,‘I think, ‘The ethics of all this online stuff area real challenge’.

Reading through the post I discover that most of it is a pixel-by-pixel breakdown of the relative resolutions of film, hdv etc. etc. You need to skip to the conclusion to see get his ethical point.

Some day. Somewhere. Someone is going to look at that picture splashed big across the front page of a newspaper and, knowing that it’s a frame grab from an HDV camera, will say, “Where did the extra data come from?” “It’s not what the camera recorded!” “How can these people (the newspaper) lie to us (the reader) like that?”

That’s when the tempest will start and the tears will follow

It’s Friday, and I’m tired, so excuse the language but holy shit! Is this serious.

By that logic newpapers lie to the reader every day.

When you publish a colour photograph is B+W or push a film by a stop to lighten it. When you crop an image or use a graded filter on your lens. It’s all manipulation. And let’s not get started on your editorialising when you frame the shot or where you stand or the angle you shoot from.

I’m getting to grips with the differences in the doco, honest-eye style of photo-journalism in the US compared to the UK. I know there are differences but this just smacks so much of an internal academic argument.

The worry is that if you put the two posts together you get a pretty convincing argument for buying really expensive equipment with good resolution because it’s more honest and ethical.