the digital journalist?

26 08 2009

i left the teevee biz about 2 years ago and jumped into the news paper biz. the GM at my station threw me the ol “you know news papers are dying every day..” spiel. but there was just something about the biz that attracted me. i was tired of doing the same ‘ol 10, 15, 30 second promo spots. i was more into trying to tell a story.

so here I am, a news paper videographer. yeah, i get lots of questions about that one…

but since i’ve been here i’ve been caught up in an ever changing industry. there’s been the idea that every reporter should know how to shoot video, record audio, take photos, blah blah blah… no, they don’t. it would be nice if they knew how to do all that stuff, but i don’t think its necessary.

what every reporter should know how to do is:

•record audio, with a mic. be it an interview, nat sounds or voice over. audio is a strong building block of creating great multimedia.

•write a script. bring out those awesome moments from the audio, then tie it together with a bangin’ script

•read a voice over of that bangin’ script you just wrote.

•edit audio. its not that hard, especially if you recorded it right. and editing audio makes you realize quicker what you did wrong and how to improve it.

•carry shit.  yes my gear is heavy and i don’t like carrying my camera bag, tripod, light stands and lighting kit all by my self. we are a team.

•be completely silent during recording. let the subject keep going, shake your head in agreement, don’t talk. taking notes is fine, but keep it as silent as possible, that means no page turns while the subject is talking. you should refer to time code. if working with a videographer, have them put their camera to day run time code. then refer to your watch for time code.

•understand all aspects of production. go take an intro to film production course at a community college. it’ll help you a lot more than taking that 5 day multimedia workshop.

if a reporter could do all of that, they would be a force to be reckoned with! one of the reporters i work with quite a bit doesn’t know how to record audio, but they can write a script, read VO and they are becoming very understanding of how production works(location scouting, time management, sound issues, lighting, etc..). basically, they are becoming a producer, which should be half the role of a reporter. and i love working with that reporter because of that.

an awesome toolset for any reporter would be this:

zoom h4n recorder ($350)

rode ntg2 shotgun mic w/fuzzy windsock ($300)

point and shoot digital camera w/hd video such as panasonic lx3($500)

tripod, cables, headphones, bag, memory card, etc.. ($150)

total- $1300

yeah, thats a lot of money. trust me i know. my camera bag is valued around $10k. but its money well spent. if you have a good accountant it can probably be a tax right off too. but you know what. its yours. not the company you work for, yours. and you can do whatever you want with it. and in most cases, if you spend your hard earned money on something, you’re going to put it to use and respect it more.

and while you’re at it. please have a cell phone. preferably a blackberry or iphone.

here’s a multimedia piece a co-worker did all with an iphone. nothing other than his phone. i think this is his 3rd multimedia production with his 3g iphone. if he had the 3gs i’m sure he’d be doing some video along with it. but he recorded audio, took photos, edited his audio and put a collage of photos to go with it.

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