I’m just your ordinary meat and potatos videojournalist. I love my craft and I know how to tell a story. But Howard Owens was wondering a while back why none of the the great broadcast videojournalists aren’t posting on the web…apparently the only video he could find was one of mine on this blog. Easily answered: they can’t. Broadcast companies are very protective of their property – especially their video.
Print photographers don’t own their images either – their photos belong to the company. But I see work done by still photogs posted on websites (take a look at SFBAPPA and other professional organizations) – and never see video done by TV folks on any but the company website.
What gives? Why the difference?
Personally I think it may be because of perception – by the employer, the employee, and the public – about the role of the visual journalist as part of the news operation. Just as the print media has always had a better reputation for their ability to cover a story in depth and have larger staffs to cover more community news…their photographers seem to have better reps too. Print photogs are seen as visual artists and have a history of being part of the journalistic tradition. They are seen as independent individuals with their own identity and vision. Video/TV photogs do not seem to have the same polished reputation – even though they provide pretty much the same commodity to their medium and have equal aesthetic and creative abilities. This may be because (opinion again) they work with a reporter who is seen (first) as a TV star and (second) as a reporter. The amount of equipment traditionally carried by TV photogs turns them into living breathing pack mules. They set up live shots and run microwave trucks. So there they are: the perception is subservient, technician, pack mule.
Unlike still photogs who shoot the story along-side, but independently from the reporter, the TV photog’s visuals are driven by the style of their reporter and interwoven with the words written and narrated by the reporter. The identity of the photographer is lost in the shadow of the on-camera person, who is recognized every day for their efforts. Rarely is a TV photog given recognition…while their print counterparts get a byline whenever work appears.
This lack of identiy has made television photographers an almost invisible class. While they are what sets television news apart from print and radio, they are not given recognition as individuals or even allowed to post their images to the web so they can earn some individual recognition – because somebody else might profit from their work besides the company that owns them and their images. The no-competition contracts most photogs sign even preclude them from doing much video on their own that might compete with their own stations.
So there you have it Howard. Until a television photographer becomes an independent, they just can’t post to the web.