'Video journalists': Inevitable revolution or way to cut TV jobs?

Rosenblum’s idea is to bring “video journalists” to TV newsrooms and beyond, one-man bands that can report stories, shoot digital video, edit it on laptops and broadcast it. His client list already includes the BBC, New York Times TV and Oxygen, and he is currently helping to train VJs at local TV stations such as KRON in San Francisco and WKRN in Nashville.

Rosenblum sells his vision to station management by promising to cut the cost of production by 20 percent to 70 percent with no loss in picture quality or storytelling. In fact, he argues that TV news can improve by giving many more people the tools to tell stories rather than the four or five news trucks full of equipment that limit what they can cover.

But critics see him as the ultimate snake-oil salesman… Mark Glaser‘Video journalists’: Inevitable revolution or way to cut TV jobs? (Online Journalism Review)

When I was in Toronto in the early 90s, CityTV would send a reporter out with a big TV camera, and put a camcorder into the hands of whoever was being interviewed. Then they would splice the two tapes together. The footage shot by the reporter’s camera looked great, but the footage shot by the interview subject was shaky and grainy. The interview subject looked like a tourist, holding a tiny camera, while the reporter — one eye blocked by the eyepiece of the shoulder camera — looked powerful and authoritative.

They would also sometimes cue up a video clip on a tiny handheld TV, and play it for the subject to get their response. Of course, the gadgets would always be in full view of the cameras. And the guy who came on during the closing credits to tell you what was coming up next was also a TV news anchor. They are the station I would turn to for street life and city culture, but I wouldn’t go to them for in-depth reporting or serious analysis. Of course, I would never go to any TV station for that (in part because I don’t have cable TV — but of course the reason I didn’t buy cable TV is that I don’t think the product is worth the price, so it’s a feedback loop that started when I was a poor grad student with a modem).

I think Al Gore’s internet-inspired TV station will have to change radically in order to survive, because more and more video bloggers are putting up good content on their own sites. (Current made some buzz a while ago with the idea that it would pay vloggers for their content, but first they asked for 6 months excusive use of contributed footage, then 3 months, then scrapped the idea.) But who wants to sit there and let Al Gore (or anyone else) tell you what order you are going to view things? If I see a promo for a feature on giant spider webs that’s coming up in 20 minutes, why not just spend that time Googling for giant spider webs?