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Old March 15th, 2011, 10:02 PM   #1
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Journalist as a director/producer

I did a shoot today for a National Health information organization. The "director" flew in last night from the other side of the country. during the three hour drive to the shoot, she told me that she is a journalist by profession, however her job function has changed and she is now shooting a number videos across the country.

My thought was" O.K.....who knows? it could work....
I spent the day trying to explain why depth of field was important in this shot or that one....sometimes you can't do a tight zoom and have all the body parts you want included...you have to recompose the shot...
Nice lady...I'm sure a good print journalist but so far out of her comfort zone, expertise and training.

A good customer to have...but a very aggravating day...
All I could think of on the drive back was " I should have quoted more"
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Old March 15th, 2011, 11:50 PM   #2
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Re: Journalist as a director/producer

There's a lot of this transition to multimedia going on in the print world...I worked for 43 years for a major newspaper as a photographer and then photo editor, and the last three was caught up in the on-line video craze, which, in this rapidly-changing industry, was seen at the time as the great savior of newspapers.

Some of the bloom is off that rose, as the revenue stream isn't what the publishers anticipated, overall. But -- speaking of newspapers in the US generally --- print journalism is under great stress and people (like myself) have had to learn a whole new set of skills very quickly as owners search for survival stratagies.

Fortunately my colleagues and I -- with the help of Platypus Workshop, NPPA and others --- got a lot of help in getting up to speed and made a decent show of it. (Past tense, as I recently retired). But a lot of people we were then expected to train had the same deer-in-the-headlights reaction as your client.

This is a challenge to achieve, which management often does not understand, as I suspect in the case of your client's situation. The skill sets, mindsets, time requirements and a host of creative and technical skills don't appear in your staff by waving a hand and telling everyone, as our management did, that "you are all now multimedia people."
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Old March 16th, 2011, 03:01 AM   #3
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Re: Journalist as a director/producer

As long as the journalist know the story they're trying to tell, I don't mind suggesting the best way of achieving the end result. Some directors aren't into the techy camera stuff, others want to learn more, others think they know it, but are quite limited and others are just impressive.

Good directors do know when you're doing a good job for them. If they're a nice person, willing to listen that's a positive, that's fine, because there are others who are not so easy to work with.
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Old March 16th, 2011, 04:27 AM   #4
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Re: Journalist as a director/producer

Excellent points, both. Thank you. I think this gal had been one of those deer- in -the -headlights situations who had no formal training; the problem was since she had taken a mandatory bradcasting class 17 years agp at unifersity, she was an "expert".

She knew the story; she'd written it. the aggravation was setting up a shot the way she wanted it, expalning to her why it wouldn't work and the having to debate with her, and ulitmately flip the field monitor around so she could SEE that it didn't work.

Once or two to demonstrate i knew what I was doing should of put an end to this; instead intesified...It was almost like she was pushing to see if I would say her shot could be improved.

When we got to the stills of the shoot, she calmed down. Still I have 40 years in; she told me the tome she was looking for and i shot them. Nothing got reshot.
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Old March 16th, 2011, 05:58 AM   #5
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Re: Journalist as a director/producer

I did a day on local news last year, my first in over 20 years, the journalist that I was with went to great lengths to tell me how proud she was to have done her one day camera training course on the Z5 and was looking forward to getting out there and doing it herself.

I asked several times what she wanted in terms of shots and the classic reply was well just shoot everything and I will sort it out in the edit!

I wish her well is her career!

Generally I've found that due to their training journalist's tend to be very focused on the story but struggle to visualise things in TV terms as most of them tend to be trained in print media, there are exceptions but even the experienced ones seem to struggle to think of things in terms of moving pictures or basic storytelling.
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Old March 16th, 2011, 09:18 AM   #6
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Re: Journalist as a director/producer

100% on the money Gary! Mine was "get B-roll" constantly. I think I shot about 90 minutes of B-roll to 20 minutes of interviews. All will render down to a 3 1/2 min piece.
This lady was mature enough to recognize that her focus was not in video, but it still made for an unduly stressful shoot.
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Old March 16th, 2011, 02:11 PM   #7
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Re: Journalist as a director/producer

Battle,

It sounds as though you have seen some interesting times. We recently stopped subscribing to the paper for a couple of reasons. 1. The size of the paper and print was getting so small it was comical. 2. They no longer seemed to have a mind of their own. They seemed to side with money and government. For instance, A paper that had been here for 80 years in the county began to follow an ever expanding retirement community and nearly forgot the rest of us. They also start the articles with "The city administrator today" and never even say what city. They also tend to side with anything the local government says and leave public comments out.

I was just wondering if you think newspapers are going to survive, with print cost and time sensitive news it seems like a dying business. And it seems television journalism (not the locals) has turned to dramalism. I feel as though this has cost the local people their voice. Combine that with Law enforcement operating on encrypted channels and we just seem to be isolated. I am very interested in your view, would you elaborate ?

Last edited by Don Parrish; March 17th, 2011 at 09:10 AM.
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Old March 17th, 2011, 12:32 AM   #8
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Re: Journalist as a director/producer

Don, I wish I knew! My gut feeling is, bottom line, newspapers are a business. They will survive in some form as long as they are an effective advertising medium, which is what pays the bills. The current enfeebled state of most daily newspapers reflects the competition in the advertising world by other and newer media, as well as the economic situation, together a "perfect storm" of adverse conditions.

Newspapers are hampered by their traditional 24-hour news cycle. Today news -- or what passes for it --- is instantly available from a number of newer and more technologically advanced sources. Doing the math, my vision is that newspapers slowly devolve to a hyper-local ad medium, for which read: your local shopper, all ads and no real content. Hate to see it. But as one of the late founders of my paper once said "we have to be economically strong to be journalistically strong," and the economic strength is fading fast. But there are probably two generations of people now who do not feel that a newspaper is an essential part of their daily life. Our time, like, say VHS video and vinyl records, is fading fast.

When I was little, my family fell on hard times. I knew it because they cancelled the afternoon paper. No chance of cancelling the morning paper even if they turned off the electricity....! Now .... well, someone recently asked how I knew some item we were discussing, and I said I had read it in the paper that morning. I was rewarded with a blank look....

Time and technology march on, and printed news must evolve to something more immediate and efficient.

The newspaper web sites, web video, cell phone apps, all that, are a desparate attempt by the publishers to move into the new world. They cannot bring in the revenue that column-inch ad rates did. For example, Craig's List has devastated classified advertising, traditionally a cash cow (one paper I know lost (iirc) 29% of its classified the first month Craig's List came to their area). The resources to do the job are diminishing. The staff at one large local paper is about half of what it was two years ago. Twenty years ago we would have had a team in Japan by now. Chartering planes, doing it better than anyone, damn -the -cost has become "what do the wires have on this?" and "do we have news space to run the story anyway?"

Where the ethical, in-depth, solid reporting is going to come from when newspapers no longer can afford to do that vital job, I don't know. If cable tv and bloggers are the replacement, heaven help democracy and an informed electorate. My (too lengthy) two cents. Thanks for asking! I realize this is somewhat off-topic for DV Info, but I suspect a number of us here are here because video suddenly became a large part of what we do,and I hope the moderators will indulge me on my comments. Won't happen again.
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Old March 17th, 2011, 04:40 AM   #9
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Re: Journalist as a director/producer

I had 24 years in the newspaper business as a photographer, 10 of which were as the chief photographer.

The webmaster and I pushed hard for online video stories, BUT I already had strong interest in video production and was doing it for a few years by then. Here are a couple of examples of what I did back then. The read sounds really stilted! But I didn't know any better back then.

Explosion at Pearl Harbor
YouTube - Pearl Harbor explosion

Carrier Fuel
YouTube - Carrier Fuel

We pushed to do more of these. Then the paper was bought by a company from Canada and the publisher wanted us to do tourist-oriented video clips for free. We said "forget it!" and dropped the whole thing. Too bad. We were paving the way for better ideas. In fact, the webmaster won the "Best of the West" award for an online story/video package right before we were sold off.

I have a BA in journalism and was a reporter and copy editor right after I was graduated from college. I'm one of those odd ones who know the entire process from notes to press, having worked as a reporter, edited stories, done paste-up layouts, worked with graphics camera guys and developing the digital color prepress procedures when it was still a black art. I even did the newspaper's morning report for public radio for a few years.

Having said all that, writers are probably the best at developing story ideas and finding a way to tell the story. However, they will rely upon cameramen and editors to help them make that all work, and they'll need help in understanding how that medium works. What many don't understand is how pacing and content must work together, and how involved it all is.

In 2004 I finally left the news business to go into business for myself. It's very challenging. But very, very satisfying. What I'm doing now is turning out to be fairly successful. Well, it's avoided bankruptcy so far!

Regarding the newspaper business, I don't think there are many who would argue that changes are happening. But there aren't too many to will agree on what needs to be done about that change. And there are a lot that don't truly understand the magnitude of evolution that has to take place to survive in the long run.

Like watching someone juggle bowling pins, it all looks so easy until you try it yourself. Then you realize how long it took to attain a certain level of skill. The people who go through these platypus courses have to understand that they're like a neophyte who has been handed a pan and spatula, and just learned to fry eggs.

It's a long way from there to becoming a truly competent chef.
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Old March 17th, 2011, 04:47 AM   #10
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Re: Journalist as a director/producer

By the way, a fellow journalist, Steph Castillo, did a documentary about Father Damien of Kalaupapa.

Although she was a reporter by trade, she knew how to tell a story with film and worked with some very talented people.

She won an Emmy for her documentary, Simple Courage.
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Old March 17th, 2011, 07:37 AM   #11
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Re: Journalist as a director/producer

Battle, your recollections of youth mirror mine in many ways. I too remember the cancellation of the newspaper meant that a lot more bad news was on the way.

Having spent my career in a technology-rich environment ( aviation) the entire industry was very quick to adopt any new method or technology that would deliver more information, faster. I think many other industries function similarily, and that increased demand for "information" and the acceptance of online acqusition by society in general ( remember the days when "everyone" knew that reading stuff off a computer monitor was bad for your eyes?)

I saw, in my own life, the slow evolution away from printed page. Much of that evolution for me was driven by the electronic methods I employed daily to collect information, and the way I learned about news...via a newspaper.

My subscriptions to five newspapers a day, dropped to four, then to two, with the last subsription falling by the wayside with the introduction of the ipad. Looking back over the last few years, I realized I'd given up paper books for e-reader a few years ago, and the loss of the newspaper and it's tactile delivery is something I miss in ways, but not as much as I'd have expected.

I suspect you're right; the local newspaper in my community is already begun evolving towards the model you describe. For me, my news comes to me via a new aggregator on the ipad...quite a transition in the past ten years.

I can certainly empathize with the lady I was working with; I'm sure there are tens of thousands of journalists in the same general demographic, searching desparately for a place to "fit"
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Old March 17th, 2011, 08:27 AM   #12
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Re: Journalist as a director/producer

Wayne, forgive me for interupting your thread. Battle, Wayne and Dean thank you for your reply.

Out of work for 2 years now, I started bugging the folks at DV Info again last year as I plotted my way back to being a freelance stringer (and everything else that the camera can do). News in my area comes from Orlando, an adjacent county with 5 TV staitions, the major paper the Orlando Sentinel, plus gobs of radio stations. We have one newspaper and zero FM radio stations here in Lake county (307,000 people). We have always been served by Orange County media. With the local law enforcement encrypting their communcations, the hard news has just collapsed and the newspapers are now "happy papers".

Some where there has yet to be born, the new method of delivery. I do not know what it is, maybe a couple of people with an internet radio station and a website for video, photo, and article delivery ? There just seems to be this gap waiting to be filled in our county. In a way, the voice of the poeple seems to be missing.

Last edited by Don Parrish; March 17th, 2011 at 11:47 AM.
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Old March 17th, 2011, 11:40 AM   #13
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Re: Journalist as a director/producer

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne Reimer View Post
For me, my news comes to me via a new aggregator on the ipad...quite a transition in the past ten years.
"
I am wondering where the aggregators will get their copy when the people who create the content can no longer afford to create it.....the parasitic model does not work unless someone can make a living or a profit by doing the work that others "aggregate."
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Old March 17th, 2011, 11:41 AM   #14
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Re: Journalist as a director/producer

The big problem with our regional TV news and print media is that people can now get their on-line news for nothing so any business model for doing it on-line or in an enhanced manner does not stack up.

Even that day I did last year saw me getting paid the same daily rate with my kit as I get elsewhere without any equipment, most of the journalists that have been redundant are now making their own corporate or wedding video's so the whole media industry at a local level has been de-valued.

On a personal level I can get all my national and local news from the BBC so in time I think there will be no need for commercial run news at a regional level.

However there are great opportunities in the field of local documentary and infomercial production that highlights companies and areas of tourist interest in the region and I have been working in on a test site for this over the past four years: iNorthEast.tv

The problem is though that finding the business model for it is very hard but several of the stories that have been done as test content involve journalists working with me as their technical resources.
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Old March 20th, 2011, 12:32 AM   #15
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Re: Journalist as a director/producer

Wayne,

I sort of have the same situation, although, my 'reporter' has been working in broadcast TV for 15+ years. However, this person is a lot like your 'director' in that she does not understand how the 'process' works from getting the best look to getting the best edit. I work with this person 1-2 days a week so she has warmed up to me and begun to 'trust' my judgment; however, I am technically still the director in addition to being the DoP, editor and motion graphics artist while she is the on-air talent and producer. Well, you could probably call her assistant director as well.

Also, she is stuck on the boring, flat look of news. This has probably been my biggest hurdle so far.

On a side note, is it common for interviewers to use this phrase, "Tell me a little bit about..." ?
It bugs the hell out of me every time I hear it, especially when it is used multiple times in every interview. It might be me, but I never hear it on national TV programs. I only hear it on local programs and in some work I have done with talking heads. Tell me if I'm wrong, but it sounds amateurish.
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