Video misconceptions

In a post entitled “How not to do newspaper video,” the folks over at Digital Journalist say newspaper managers don’t understand what it takes to do video well. Rule number one, according to the DJ editorial: “You are not in the television business.”

Can’t argue with that. In fact, TV newsrooms need to learn the same lesson when it comes to online video. You can’t just shovel your TV product online and think you’ve used the Web to best advantage. But I would argue with some of the distinctions the DJ column makes between the way TV and newspapers handle video.

A TV cameraperson can “turn” three or four stories a day, because he or she hands off the raw tape to a producer who takes it to an editor to complete. Newspaper photographers on the average have a much less strenuous schedule. On the average, they will do one or two stories a day. Now, they are being asked to do multitasking, shooting both stills and video. The good news is they can. But it is going to take much more time.

First off, most TV photojournalists I know edit their own stories. They might hand off a VO/SOT here and there for someone else to edit, but certainly not everything they shoot. In my experience, the producer-editor system only exists at the networks.

Secondly, photographers do need more time to produce both stills and video but not as much time as the column suggests. “Most successful video storytellers will spend weeks working on a piece,” it says. Some, perhaps. Certainly not most. Sure, TV photojournalists would love to have more time to craft their stories, but lots of them do amazing work in a day or two.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing that the “crank it out” approach of “do more with less” TV newsrooms is the way to go. But I do think it’s important to recognize both the pros and cons of that system while we all try to figure out what works best in online video.

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