Rabble-rousing at its finest

You gotta love Michael Rosemblum over at The man knows how to make the media cogs squirm in their seats. 

The web offers not just another platform for distribution of product, but rather an entirely new calculus for how an online media company can be run. By its very nature, it changes the construct of most media businesses. Migrate your newspaper to the web completely and you suddenly lose the cost of ink, paper, presses, pressmen, delivery trucks, distribution and paperboys. Tell your writers to work from home and you can lose the building, the desks, the lights, the cleaning services and most of the management as well. Cut all those costs, and suddenly your ad based web revenue can look pretty good in comparison. Its the overhead that is killing you. Lose it. You don’t need it.

Heavy words, but alas, I think this is what will eventually befall our industry. Thankfully we’re not there yet. But if traditional newspaper advertising continues its year-after-year declines, you have to wonder when that line will be crossed–that it becomes more economically viable for publishers to cut the overhead and just publish on the web.

For this transition to happen though, a lot of blood has to be let. It will be gut wrenching for the truck drivers, paperboys, pressmen and others who will lose their jobs. But after this transition, what happens next? Will a journalism renaissance take place or will the brand names of newspaper mastheads fade into the noise of the web? 

If you haven’t perused Rosenblum’s blog you should. He pulls a lot of weight in the media industry. Rosenblum and his VNI (Video News International) colleagues of the mid-nineties were the first to push the idea of using the video journalist concept. Small digital video cameras in lieu of big broadcast betacams, One man bands. Produce from the field not from an edit suite. This new workflow has encountered a wall of resistance from traditional TV news shooters, who for some reason, are uncomfortable with losing all that weight they lug around.

The interesting thing here, is that the VJ model has been embraced by us newspaper video shooters who know nothing of lugging twenty pound tripod around or editing tape to tape. Rosenblum is a rabble-rouser, a square peg trying to change an industry one TV news station at a time. He loves to pick on Katie Couric and the whole TV news anchor paradigm:

Perhaps the last gasp of a defunct and completely out of touch management was Katie Couric’s pornographic $15 million a year salary – to work 22 minutes a night reading what someone else had written. The sheer stupidity of this, the sheer short-sightedness of it now becomes obvious to everyone. For Couric’s reported $15 million, CBS could have (could have) hired and fielded an astonishing 150 Videojournalists worldwide, paying them a quite honorable $100,000 a year to report for CBS News. CBS News could have (could have) placed itself on the cutting edge of the digital news revolution. Instead they opted to become the dinosaur poster child of the end of old media. Goodbye Tiffany Network. You blew it.

Rosenblum is moving forward with his vision. His ongoing Travel Channel Academy video workshops are full of people wanting to learn to produce video for TV and the web. He is helping newspapers integrate video storytelling into their websites. The momentum is in his favor. As the hinges on the foundations of traditional media start to break away, those of us that have embraced the VJ model will hopefully be left standing long after Ivory towers have come crumbling down.


Taking me to task

In my last post, “Sequencing Video” I was taken to task from TV photojournalists for letting my camera run instead of starting and stopping when I was shooting a sequence for a story. Oreo writes:

“I encourage you to work however is most comfortable for you, but when I shoot, I (usually) start and stop recording when changing shots. This leads to less wasted media, and less time in editing looking for the shot you want. It is also referred to as “editing in the camera.” I can’t give you any hard and fast rules that I have on when I roll constantly, but it’s usually when the action is happening rapidly or the record button is not easy to reach due to the way I’m holding the camera.”

And from Lisa Parisot:

“I think your technique might work however I teach students in my classes to turn the camera off between shots unless they are recording for sound, or if it is a breaking news event where every second counts. I learned to shoot news when the amount of film stock was limited so we had to sequence in the camera. I teach this method to my journalism students for two reasons – so they learn to edit in the camera which saves time in the edit room and so they learn to anticipate what shots they will need to tell their story.”

I defended myself by saying I don’t do that very often, which is true to my style. I got to thinking though—What do TV news shooters really do when they say they edit in camera? I realize that many of you still edit tape-to-tape instead of the modern method of non-linear–ala Final Cut Pro. Does that change how you shoot?

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