Chris Essig

Walkthroughs, tips and tricks from a data journalist in eastern Iowa

Video of tax rally approaching 400 views…

with one comment

– It didn’t receive an astronomical amount of views, but my video of last week’s tax rally got some attention from our viewers. I think it’s safe to say that video is becoming an increasingly popular medium for newspapers big and small because they do get a lot of attention. It’s no surprise that most editors who are hiring nowadays basically require aspiring journalists to have some sort of video knowledge. And YouTube is popular as it is, so why not jump on board.

– But just because newspapers are becoming more and more familiar with video, doesn’t necessarily mean the quality of video is increasing as well. Case in point: the National Press Photographers Association this year refused to give out a first, second or third place award in the News Video category because no entry met their standards. The judge’s comments are a startling wake up call for an industry clearly struggling to keep up with the times:

One of the judges stated that this was the Best of Photojournalism contest and unfortunately the work entered in this category did not hold up to the standards that we as an industry should be trying to achieve. It was clear from viewing this category that we all need to work harder in educating and training our staffs in both shooting and editing video for the web.

The judges did hand out an honorable mention to Colin Mulvany, a journalist at The Spokesman-Review who produced a video on a candlelight vigil. Mulvany has an excellent blog post, “Video at newspapers need to improve,” in response to the judge’s comments. Go ahead and read it all.

My favorite line comes at the end:

When I started this blog, I wrote a post called “What we can learn from TV news shooters.” The crux of that post : TV news shooters have done video storytelling decades longer than us newbie’s in the newspaper biz, and we can learn a lot from their successes. If you are lucky enough to go to a TV video workshop, you’ll get the fundamentals drilled into your head–Shoot wide, medium tight, super tight. Shoot action, then reaction. Get that camera on sticks! Use a wireless mic. Gather natural sound. What’s your opener? Closer? And, for Christ sake, white balance your video!

Exactly. I feel some journalists shoot video for the sake of shooting video, not realizing there are basic guidelines for newspaper videography. Mix shots, get good interviews, make sure shots aren’t shaky and audio is clear, and most importantly, make sure it tells a captivating story.

– Practice is also very important. And, quite frankly, most newspapers don’t have the money to hire a full-time videographer. This, I think, is my biggest fault because I just don’t get the opportunity to shoot video all that much. But journalists should try and get as many chances as they can. It doesn’t hurt to ask your editor if it’s alright to shoot video. Who knows, maybe they’ll say yes.

– Certainly, my videography skills aren’t all that great either. And I’m sure a lot of journalists are in the same situation. One site I always come back to for videography advice is this simple training video from BBC on the five shot rule. It’s worth a bookmark. It’s a great rundown on how to mix shots and sequence them together.

– That’s all for my rant. Hopefully some of this lights a fire under aspiring videographers. I know I want to shoot more video now…

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One Response

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  1. Great, great, GREAT post, Chris. I also am guilty of not making time for video but have started requesting it more frequently lately.

    Marco Santana

    May 16, 2010 at 10:43 pm


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