Stop bitchin’ and just train yourself

The number of newspaper video journalists is growing amongst the dwindling ranks in newsrooms. The Newark Star-Ledger in New Jersey recently converted 20 reporters and photographers. In my own newsroom at The Spokesman-Review, three more reporters are being outfitting with Macbooks, Final Cut Express and video cameras. But just because someone dumps at bunch of gear on you doesn’t make you video journalist. It takes training and a lot of hard work to master the fundamentals of video and audio production.

If your newspaper provides you with video training, realize it is just the beginning. For you to be successful, you’ll need to take ownership of your evolving career. I’m always surprised at how many journalists in newsrooms demand training, but when their newspaper fails to deliver, they refuse to invest any of their own time in reinventing themselves. This is not a time for complacency. Sometimes I feel journalists at newspapers are like the proverbial frog that fails to jump out of the water as it is slowly heated to boiling.

As newspapers accelerate their move to online, it is more important than ever for journalists to have new media skills. The problem is that many smaller newspapers in these lean times do not have the money or staff knowledge to provide training to their employees. Why invest your own time in training yourself? If you want to stay relevant in the journalism world you’d better have new media skills. This latest round of personnel shedding by newspapers will not be the last. When all the volunteers and those near retirement are gone, where do you think the next round of people targeted is going to be? If I am a publisher or senior editor and I have already cut to the bone, I’m going to probably start icing employees with the least amount of online skills.

We are now in a period of accelerated learning. No longer will the skills we learned in college be enough to sustain a career. Journalism has changed. The people who went into the profession to just write or just take photos will soon be considered dinosaurs. Many talented journalists have left newspapers or now live in fear of being laid off. For those that remain, I say take control of your destiny. Reinvent yourself. I did. Look at this transition as if the glass is half full. Understand that the potential for doing great journalism is platform agnostic. The storytelling tools are changing, but not the need for great storytellers. Here are some of the places I go for inspiration and training each day. For less than a dollar a day, you can have access to a vast software training library. The training is done by watching video demonstrations and is very effective way to learn. My newsroom has a yearly subscription to

Can’t afford Lynda? Then go to YouTube and search for tutorials. There’s a ton of stuff related to video editing and audio production. You just have to wade through the crap to find it.

Blogs are a great way to find inspiration and tips. My favorites that I read everyday are: Video producer Angela Grant has created a destination where you can find a mix to tools, advice and community related to newspaper video production.

Teaching Online Journalism. Online journalism instructor and Adobe Flash wizard Mindy McAdam’s blog has been on the online front lines for the last several years. Her thoughtful posts delve deeply into the nuances of doing affective online journalism.

RosenblumTV Michael Rosenblum helped start the video journalism movement some 20 years ago. Now all his hard work is paying off. He runs the Travel Channel Academy, which trains legions of VJ’s for TV and newspaper video production. The best part of his blog is when he connects history to the fall of TV news. He put a lot of what is happening at newspaper into perspective.

Journerdism. Will Sullivan, interactive director at the St. Louis Dispatch trolls the web and posts a daily mix of industry news. If something is happening in the online journalism world, Sullivan knows about it.

12 thoughts on “Stop bitchin’ and just train yourself

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  10. Now that’s a headline for the ages! Reminds me of the large serving bowl I have filled-up, 2X by now, with DV tape… most of which turned out blue or with really sucky audio issues. However, mixed in the piles are some righteous interviews and some gorgeous photography. Some. But the good stuff is beginning to overcome the bad. It’s a steep learning curve for some; not so much for others. But if ever there was a case of teaching yourself to fish for life, then multimedia would be it.

    That said, I am constantly astonished by those who never do it off the leash. If a good reporter gets laid-off, seems the first thing they do is go look for a paycheck and a boss man to tell ’em what to do – at a freakin’ PR agency. I’m sorry, “real” journo or not, that’s just pathetic.

    Train, train, then train thyself more.

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