Going solo

VJ, one-man band, sojo, mojo. Is there a distinction? Pete Liebengood, president of the VJ training company OnQCo, says the only real difference is that a one-man band uses more gear than the others. In his opinion, a VJ, sojo or mojo only needs a camera and a laptop to do the job. What, no microphone? Anyway, at last week’s RTNDA convention, Liebengood said the “spiraling” VJ movement has both an upside and a downside:

People like the idea of ownership of the story. It’s a motivational force for them to come to work each day. The other thing is, it’s hard. Some of them don’t have time to eat during the course of a day. I’m concerned about the burnout issue. It’s physically hard, mentally hard, it’s stressful, draining.

In a video presentation, two journalists from all-VJ KOHD-TV in Bend, Ore., offered a similar assessment. “It’s a lot more work than I thought it would be but it’s also rewarding being responsible for all of the elements,” said Lauren Biskind, although she also admitted, “Some days I just want to back away from the computer and go home and go to bed.” Brian MacMillan had experience as a shooter before becoming a VJ.I think you have to love what you do, be excited about news, and it’s tough to get in there every day and do this. If you’re not excited about it you’re going to burn out.”

KOHD (market 192) launched its all-VJ news operation a little over six months ago. If their reporters are already exhausted, how long can they keep it up?

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: There Will Be Blood | News Videographer

  2. I had to laugh when I read that market 192 launched a “all-VJ” news operation as if they were pioneers. One man bands in small markets have existed since I started in the business in the ’80s. Small markets could not afford full crews. Now technology allows one person to have all the tools to properly produce work on their own. I am a one-man band. For most of my 19 years in the business I have been a one-man band and I find it quicker, faster, and give fewer headaches due to prima donnas. It brings us back to the foundations. The story is what matters not the faces who present them.

    Unfortunately the real world and executives have different views. To the viewer, what matters is the reporter. To the executives, the faces on camera are the tools to sell their product. It’s a business, pure and simple. It’s about selling my widget of news against the other widgets of news being hawked at the street corner. Unfortunately, the product is now a shadow of what it once was.

    In the UK, journalists are being trained as mojos to increase the number of crews. In the US, journalists are being trained to cut the costs of newsrooms. Executives have never appreciated the value of a quality photojournalist working with a mediocre reporter. Usually the experienced photojournalist trains the younger journalist about the streetwise methods of conducting interviews, who to speak with candidly and how to duck when facing an angry mob. The photojournalist is more apt to be let go than the reporter because the perceived value is less. Perception is the rule in any business today. Unknown to the executive the value of one quality photojournalist, who can cover three or four stories a day is a much greater return on investment. Three quality photojournalists can interview, shoot, write, and edit creating entire newscasts on their own. The faces and voices presenting the stories could be placed in a stable to trot out when needed. The viewer perceives authorship of stories as the persons presenting the stories. It only takes a few stops to realize stations are identified by the anchors. The integrity of the station is based on the appearance of an anchor.

    As journalists we must not be overwhelmed by viewer’s perceptions. Our integrity lies with the quality of our work. Technology is not going to limit us. Our perceptions of what is possible will limit our ability to adapt. There is an enormous amount of “paradigm repair” taking place. The evidence is in the fear of being labeled a mojo or being identified as one. Newsrooms form circles to protect the habits they have created it. Adaptation is constant in newsrooms. The adaptation is meant to keep the status quo.

    There is a generation who can not comprehend the four man news crew (there once was). There will be a generation will not comprehend the two person news crew of today.

    The best thing we can all do is to talk about the impact and adjust our way of thinking.

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