The Digital Journalist
Special Report:
NAB 2007
May 2007

by Dirck Halstead

The National Association of Broadcasters' annual show in Las Vegas is considered the largest electronic media show in the world. With over 108,000 attendees it is the ultimate toy factory. Everything from satellite dishes to an actual tank from Iraq was on display.

From the standpoint of photojournalists, whose profession is increasingly crossing over into the realm previously only occupied by the broadcast industry, it is a look into the future of our acquisition tools.

PF Bentley and I trudged for miles through the four huge convention halls. PF's report on what he saw is in this section of The Digital Journalist. As he says, the show is simply WOW!

The show kicked off with Apple's look at the new Final Cut Studio 2. PF reports on it.

The NAB panel on the future of the Internet. From left: Miles O'Brien of CNN, Terry Heaton, Zadi Diaz, Elizabeth Osder, Michael Rosenblum and Amanda Congdon.
Of interest to visual journalists was the first opening-day panel on how the Web is changing journalism. Our own Terry Heaton; Michael Rosenblum, "the father of video journalism"; Zadi Diaz, host and producer of "The Jetset" video blog; Elizabeth Osder, formerly of Yahoo News, and ABC News blogger Amanda Congden were on the panel. Hosted by CNN's Miles O'Brien, it addressed the changes that are coming fast and furiously. Terry Heaton launched the discussion by saying, "I think we have entered a whole new age of the consumer being in charge. This thing that we're going through is not about technology. It's about people using technology."

"This is the end of the old world," added Rosenblum. "The arrival of cheap cameras and easy-to-use editing systems has taken away the exclusive hold TV stations once had on producing high-quality video." He pointed to media blogger Jeff Jarvis in the audience who was shooting with a small video camera, and said traditional TV networks would be better off by hiring hundreds of video bloggers like Jarvis instead of paying anchors like Katie Couric "millions of dollars to read the news for 13 minutes a night."

Rosenblum painted a bleak picture for broadcasting, comparing it to Kodak's struggle to transform its film-based business strategy to the world of digital imaging. "They are going out of business," he said of broadcasters who don't adapt. By contrast, he said, newspapers have been threatened by the Web for long enough, so they are beginning to figure out how to react to a "platform-agnostic" world.

Heaton said local stations need to find a way to partner with "the local Web." He pointed to news aggregator sites like Yahoo! News and Google News. "They have changed viewers' expatiations of conventional TV news – especially the 'film at 11' tradition of news teases," he said. "People don't want to be teased; they can go to the Web and get what they want."

Heaton pointed to one local blogger in Nashville who's taken an obsessive interest in his local county government. "He's so far beyond what any newspaper is doing," he said, urging newsrooms to consider hiring more people with local roots, rather than reporters constantly moving to ever-larger markets.


The buzzword is TAPELESS. Virtually every manufacturer is positioning itself for a tapeless world.

Under glass, a look at the forthcoming Sony XD CAM.
Sony showed its newest entry in the video journalism field under glass, with its new XD Cam. When it is put on the market next year, it will be able to record to either a double-layered optical disc, which will hold 23 gigs, or about 2 hours of media or flash cards. The camera will hold two flash cards, each containing 8 gigs or about one hour of recording time. It has a 20X zoom with a 4:2:2 color pull-down.

Canon's small-sized HV 20 camcorder
With the release of its XH AI and XH G1 camcorders last year [Camera Corner], Canon showed its tiny HV20. Just slightly bigger than palm-sized, it is aimed squarely at the video journalism market. It has a CMOS chip and features professional audio controls and a HD 24 FPS frame rate, perfect for frame capture for newspapers. Accessories include a tiny shotgun mic, wide-angle lens adaptor, and minilite. Tbe whole kit comes in at less than $1,500. It means every still photographer can carry it in their Domke.

The tiny Panasonic AVCHD, developed in partnership with Sony.
Panasonic goes even smaller with its AVCHD, a camera they developed in partnership with Sony. It is no longer than a pen, and uses MPEG 4. This is the first time Panasonic has abandoned their P2 format. The tiny camera records 40 minutes on a 4-gig card. It is also the first camera in its price range to feature 5.1-surround sound. Rather than the standard Firewire connection it uses a USB output. This would have been a big problem in bringing it in to Final Cut Pro, but Apple's new Final Cut Studio 2 should be able to handle it. It will sell for $2,099.

JVC's new GYHD250U
JVC showed their new GYHD250U, a souped-up version of their GHYD200U, which among other things is the camera used to record each episode of "24." This camera is getting longer with each new model. It uses a 720/24p capture. For those who are interested, it has a built-in broadcast-level encoder to allow input into microwave and satellite transmitters. It is still a tape camera.

Each year we include an outrageous item, in case you come into an unexpected inheritance. Our pick from this show is RF Central's turbine-engined mini helicopter. It will carry a 40-pound payload, so you can put any cameras you want on it. It has an HD transmitter, which will send the signal from the camera for up to two miles. It can hit 100 mph. It is perfect for covering sports events (or wars). However, you need to either be a certified pilot or hire one. It is not a toy. You can snap one up for a mere $80,000.

Pilot Garry Travis poses with the RF CENTRAL helicopter.

Please read P.F. Bentley's report on more goodies from NAB.

© Dirck Halstead
Editor and Publisher of The Digital Journalist

Dirck Halstead was Time magazine's Senior White House Photographer for 29 years. He now is the Publisher and Editor of The Digital Journalist, the monthly online magazine for visual journalism, and a Senior Fellow at the Center For American History at the University of Texas in Austin. His new book, MOMENTS IN TIME, published by Harry N. Abrams, is in bookstores, and available from