The exploding newsroom

The exploding newsroom

: The Lenslinger contemplates the future — in a week or two — when everyone in a newsroom has a camera and a pencil: Specialties merge, egos deflate.

Now, Young Broadcasting, KRONís owner, is announcing that another of their stations, WKRN of Nashville, is jumping aboard the solo train. Not only that, WKRN is doing it NOW. Having already purchased 30 Sony Z1 cameras (at a mere 3 pounds apiece) along with 16 Dell laptop editors, KRN management announced an eight week training course that will transform 13 traditional news crews into 30 video journalists….

Jill Reporter-Bunny might shoot her own stuff, but chances are Chet Graytemples wonít pack his own lens when he saunters off the set long enough for a series shoot.

If he does, then that would be a revolution, one in which the star-making nature of your local news factory might indeed crumble. Imagine a TV newsroom where even the top anchor schleps gear, thus tarnishing the artifice of suave superiority inherent in the dapper newsreader model. While thatís not likely to happen, one aspect of the changing times does excite me: the gradual transformation of local correspondents from overdressed poseurs to blue-collar news gatherers.

  • mike

    Jeff-WKRN’s Chief Photographer will be teaching a “Video 101 for Bloggers” class in early July and we anticipate this will be the first in many such classes. As you know the station held Nashville’s first blogger meet-up this past February. In May we hired local blogger, Brittney Gilbert, and launched a portal for the local blogosphere. Michael Rosenblum, the godfather of the VJ movement, is in the newsroom today beginning the process of turning thirteen traditional news crews into thirty VJ’s. A lot of this is being met with skepticism by our competitors and the “traditionalists” who think the barbarians are at the gate and we’ve just given them a key. But it is exhilarating to be doing something rather than sitting around bitching about how irrelevant we are becoming in this Brave New World. Progress reports to follow.

  • I think the biggest objection from traditional reporters will be this: If I’m the one holding the camera, how can I appear on the resulting video?

  • Steven, if you had wallowed in the small TV markets, as I did for years, you’d know the answer to that is a tripod. Set it up, attach the camera, focus on a couple of landmarks, then make sure you’re standing between the landmarks.
    Seriously, small market television station have had “one man bands”, as they’re called, for years and years and years. 20-years ago, the equipment probably weighted 75-80 pounds. In fact, I can remember one-man crews even when they were shooting on 8mm film.
    The big problem is some cheap managers are making folks do one man band live shots. Now a live shot requires driving a truck, raising a tall mast, operating a microwave transmitter, operating a camera, and reporting. I don’t see how all of that can be done safely by one person. When we see more masts raised into electric power lines because the reporter has had little training in the engineering aspects of a live shot, we’ll see lawsuits aplenty.

  • Maybe this is a “new” concept in the big markets, but I can still remember lugging around 3/4″ U-matic gear (that was a camera AND a tape deck… and oh yeah, lights) at my college station. We usually did the buddy system: two reporters would go out together and shoot each other’s stories. This way you could still get all the standups and two-shots you wanted. The downside was that you had to schedule interviews around each other. Now that cameras are a lot smaller and computerized editing software is a lot better, it ALMOST sounds fun.
    Why “almost?” What’s going to be the system for doing live shots? No way in heck would I do one of those alone. You need somebody watching your back ESPECIALLY seeing the recent wave of people running through live shots shilling for a pair of radio airheads.

  • mike

    There will still be two man crews for live shots and breaking news. We realize going in that some stories because of safety issues or difficulty will dictate two man crews. The idea here is content. No downsizing of staff, just more people on the street doing stories the viewer just might be interested in.

  • whodat

    “…beginning the process of turning thirteen traditional news crews into thirty VJ’s.”
    Let’s see how long you guys keep a staff of 30. The ‘progress’ is going into the pockets of the suits. And Rosenblum. Call me a cynic, but the “Brave New World” to me sounds like a way for stations to make more money with cheaper equipment/crews and also have a built-in reason to lay people off. “Sorry, you’re just not cutting it as a VJ…” Cha-ching.

  • “This is Edison Carter, coming to you live and direct on Network 23.”
    20 minutes into the future indeed!