Exploding TV: one-man bands

Exploding TV: one-man bands

: Lost Remote reports that KRON-TV in San Francisco is the first major market news operation to switch to one-person TV crews (following some local cable news operations). The Remoters then wonder about what the audience will think of less-than-perfect video. A few observations:

: As audiences shrink, the way to maintain profitability — for now — will be to cut costs. Expect to see a lot more of this.

: I believe the audience cares more about a good story than a rock-steady camera. I’ve told the story already how I tried to convince a FoxNews exec that webcams would come to cable news and he got all huffy about backhaul quality and all that… and then I started broadcasting via webcam on MSNBC and they love it. It’s real, they said, it’s immediate. Rougher video will turn from being an economic move to a news fad.

: At one of the Harvard confabs, podcasters said that NPR gets obsessive about audio quality and that’s a way to keep the people off the airwaves. The same is true of TV — and, for that matter, print journalism: It’s overcomplicated to keep the club closed and exclusive. But we all know how easy it is to write and publish if you have something to say. It’s getting just as easy to broadcast and distribute.

: I’ll be we’ll quickly see local TV news — and radio and newspapers — follow the leads of Current.TV, blogcasts on MSNBC, YOURadio, and the podcast show on Sirius: You’ll see just folks recording and reporting in any medium.

  • hey

    city tv and the rest of the chum stations and networks in canada have been doing 1 man bands for a very very long time. bee nice to see the unions get screwed on this… any time unions take it is a good thing in my books, plus it makes for alot better tv. more immediate, more relevant, and faster.

  • http://ari.typepad.com Steve Rhodes

    I’m afraid this is more about the sad decline of KRON than any attempt at innovation.
    KRON used to be one of the best local news stations in the country. Then it was sold for by the family which owned the Chronicle for a record $850 million to Young Broadcasting. NBC had wanted the station, was pissed and moved their affiliation to a station in San Jose (which eventually bought for about $250 million).
    Greg Lyon at a panel on Journalism in a Bean Counter Culture about why he left KRON in January after almost 28 years.
    This is a pretty good summary of what he said though there was a lot more.

  • http://ari.typepad.com Steve Rhodes

    I’m afraid this is more about the sad decline of KRON than any attempt at innovation.
    KRON used to be one of the best local news stations in the country. Then it was sold for by the family which owned the Chronicle for a record $850 million to Young Broadcasting. NBC had wanted the station, was pissed and moved their affiliation to a station in San Jose (which eventually bought for about $250 million).
    Greg Lyon at a panel on Journalism in a Bean Counter Culture about why he left KRON in January after almost 28 years.
    This is a pretty good summary of what he said though there was a lot more.

  • Skate

    One man CNN stringers have done some great reporting as do a lot of small market reporters. But, doing interviews by yourself is a pain in the butt, and doing live stand ups? I assume they’ll keep a shooter on the crew for that. Of course, most of those live stand ups (“I’m here, live on the scene where something happened hours ago and nothing is happening now…”) are pointless anyways and the news would be better off if the reporter went out and did some reporting instead of waiting for a live stand up.
    I’d be sadder for the loss of reporter/cameraman crews if KRON TV news was digging deeper than the headline, but it is the same reactionary reporting as most TV news.
    We need more proactive reporting, and reporters who fact check the news, even when they are just reporting what the President said at a news conference.

  • http://www.15grant.com/mrsizer/blog/ mrsizer

    If TV news ever showed anything video worthy, quality might make a difference. Most local TV news reporting here (in Denver) is just talking heads “on location” with perhaps a quick pan across the location, which doesn’t work very well at night (10:00 news) regardless of camera quality.
    Who cares if the talking head is grainy? It has zero added value anyway.
    As a side note: I wonder if we’ll start seeing those vans stuffed full of equipment, whatever it is, showing up on eBay?

  • The Kid

    Can you say “Max Headroom”?
    How about live feeds – think Edson Carter – from camera-equipped reporters roaming the cityscape in search of whatever. Newsworthy events – live or stored for later retrieval – are accessed by viewers on the Internet. Bloggers get their own cameras for non-real-time (who can afford the cost of a broadband remote link) videos of what’s happening locally, along with their commentary.

  • Johnny L

    Note to Local News:
    Stop the useless live broadcasts at 10pm from in front of City Hall when all you’re reporting on is a mayoral statement. Stop the reporter on the street corner during the snowstorm live remote. We don’t need to see a reporter..just put a cam out there.
    In fact I think they have already started doing this or close to it. During a storm in NYC this past February they did the usual reporter on the street corner shot. However, I swear I could see the shadow of the reporters arm on the backdrop so I think they just filmed her in the studio and projected an outdoor street corner scene behind her.

  • http://democracyinmedia.typepad.com Alex Rowland

    The bleeding of citizen’s media efforts into closed network environments is an interesting phenomenon. It strikes me as a rather desperate attempt by the “dinosaurs” (as you put it Jeff) to keep pace with emerging trends. But once itís broadcast on a closed network (TV, radio, or newspaper) it no longer becomes citizenís media, itís just MSM (and grainy MSM at that).
    The fundamental problem with these efforts will always be that they are taking an inherently closed distribution mechanism and trying to push open content through it (CurrentTV, YOURradio, Adamís Sirius show are all guilty of this.). Itís like trying to take the vocal opinions of a thousand people and cramming it into a few short sentences. Unless the crowd is as homogenous as a Bush town hall meeting, youíve probably missed a lot of what was said. You still wind up with a very small number of people publishing through the channel. The only real difference to the audience is that a different guy is speaking. But there is still no sense of community, no sense of group participation, no sense of conversation. It’s still a small group of people deciding what gets aired and what doesnít; it’s just different people making the decision.
    I thought the point of citizenís media was not to put the most popular citizens up on a pedestal to represent us all, but rather to invite everyone to the conversation to let them express their own POV. The distinction between citizen journalists and MSM is not found in the individual (even MSM journalists can be citizen journalists, right Jeff?); itís found in how groups of individuals participate in the discussion. The point is that everyone is free to publish what they want and everyone is free to consume what they want.
    The real story in exploding TV journalism will be when news is comprised of content produced by everybody, filtered by everybody, and consumed by anyone. But maybe Iím missing the point.

  • Old Grouch

    If you’ve got the story– and nobody else does– the quality of the video doesn’t matter. Look at the number of spot news reports that use “amateur video” taken with some bystander’s camcorder.

  • Skate

    “If you’ve got the story– and nobody else does– the quality of the video doesn’t matter. Look at the number of spot news reports that use “amateur video” taken with some bystander’s camcorder.’
    That only covers spot news, not reporting. You may be able to make “America’s Most Amazing Home Videos” with random footage but not a whole news program. You are just talking about sensational footage rather than real news, like, say, the allegation that Bush asked via Cofer Black for Osama Bin Laden’s head in a box–literally. Where is the press on that one? Busy filing for unemployment, it would seem.
    It takes more than camcorders to be a “news” department of any worth.

  • http://www.mountebank.org/blog joe

    “First major market?” Is NYC not a major market? NY1 (cable, granted, but certainly a major market station) has been doing this for years.