The Digital Journalist
Just Say.....Wait a Second
May 2007

by PF Bentley

There's been a lot of talk lately on the NewspaperVideo list about video gear. What to buy, what to use, etc. This is good.

There's also talk concerning budgets by publishers and editors that determines what gear photographers making the switch to video can buy. This is bad and here's why.

Finally, publishers are understanding that the Web is the future of newspapers and advertising money and the actual paper is just an appendage of the online edition. This is a major paradigm shift from some years ago when nothing could go online until it was in the paper and even then, the Web got the scraps.

So now you need to make the switch to video and the bosses are asking if you can do "that video stuff" on some ultra-mini DV camera and edit in iMovie. Ask them if you could shoot the big game with a digital point-and-shoot. Hey, cut costs more by only using Photoshop Elements. Finally, tell them you could further cut costs if they'd move out of their plush offices and sit in the newsroom with a plain, unfinished pine desk with a rotary phone with dial-up Internet.

Yes, we could shoot the big game with a point-and-shoot.

Yes, we could use an ultra-mini DV to shoot video stories.

Yes, we could use iMovie to edit.

And yes, you publishers and editors can get your cheap butts out of your plush offices and sit in the newsroom at a plain, unfinished pine desk with a rotary phone with dial-up Internet.

You could run a paper like that. But the quality and workflow would suck.

So why are some papers skimping on the leap to video when that's where the money is?

I got some news for you all: In the next few years we will be moving out of broadband and into fiber optic or powerline Web delivery which will enable full HD Web video and network broadcast online. This means that you are going to have to compete for viewers with 5,000 or more "stations" online. You better have some really good stuff to show 'cause you are not the only game in town for ADVERTISING DOLLARS.

Memo to Publishers and Editors:

Your staff are professionals, not wannabes on Ted Mack's Amateur Hour.

Treat them well, and with gear they say they need to get the job done.

That's not the gear that IT says to get – IT is not shooting or editing. IT has no business in any decision-making concerning the tools needed for your videographers. Did IT have a say in the still cameras too? Did IT choose what type of big chair you sit in?

Maybe now that this different path involves the Web you think IT folks know about video gear, type of computers needed to edit and software – guess what? You're wrong.

The videographers are your future income and the only hope you have to save the "paper." I'd take very good care of them.

Got questions?

Disclaimer: I know that there are many papers who are doing this the right way and in a first-class manner. I applaud your efforts in this brave new world and keep up the good work.

© PF Bentley