TV Shooters Posting on Web…

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.

28 thoughts on “TV Shooters Posting on Web…

  1. It seems like they’d be more interested than I perceive that they are in the possibilities opening up with Web video. With their skills, and the freedom in this development stage of online video, think about what they could do! If I were a TV photog, I’d quit and try to work for a newspaper site.

  2. So would I, were I still in the business. I’ve talked and most TV folks have their heads firmly buried in the sand. They know what they know and refuse to acknowledge it might change. And there is a certain fear factor of the unknown.

    My main point here was to point out the differences between print and broadcast – they seemingly do the same job, but the perception of who they are is vastly different.

  3. Thanks for the link.

    I think you make a good point about TV video shooters being an invisible class. I probably didn’t have sufficient appreciation for the true talent of some of these shooters until I became familiar with your work and Lenslinger.

    That said, the point of my original challenge — how come when I go to WAAA.com or KBBB.com I don’t find original video for the web? There is a class of TV shooter on the web who like to beat us newspaper folk over the head about how great they are, but I don’t see them producing original content for the web. The proof is in the pudding. Taking your TV stuff and shovelwaring it onto the web doesn’t count as producing content for the web.

    That said, there have been plenty of print reporters over the years who have started private blogs. Some of them got in trouble, but many did not.

    Why can’t a TV shooter start a blog and produce video on his or her own time with his or her own equipment? Why can’t a TV shooter make some video and upload it to YouTube?

    I think what you’re doing is great. I think newspaper video producers can learn a lot from the content you’ve made for the web. I’m sure we could learn a lot from other TV shooters if they would put forth the effort to learn what it is that makes web content different, and then used web content tools to produce web video.

  4. The problem goes back to the no-compete contract all broadcast folks sign. They can’t do anything that their company might consider competition – which means any story in their market that the company might conceivably do. So I’ve seen TV folk shoot freelance sports, their own movies, and weddings, but never news. They can’t do it on their own.

    I do think you will start seeing original web content produced for station websites and as part of cooperative eforts for newspaper sites over the next year. Here in my market KXTV is buddied up with the Sacramento Bee and KTVU announced an opening for a videojournalist to work on original web stories just for their website. But you’re right in that too much is the same ole same ole that is shared with broadcast programs.

  5. I am a Video Journalist (we call it Digital Correspondent) at 10News in San Diego. No problem with the invisible class now because I run my tail off doing it solo (and wouldn’t change back).

    The question was where are TV Video Journalist’s web sites? My personal blog can be found at http://www.digitalcorrespondent.com with video from 10News.com embedded. Station is OK with it as long as I link back to site.

    Some is Git-R-Done daily turn and some tries to rise above the chaff (I’m proud of “cancer benefit” and “spelling bee” http://digitalcorrespondent.com/?cat=6).

    Stations are slow to change but there some like KGTV (10News.com) and WKRN that are trying to break the rules. TV doesn’t do a lot of web-only content because tv product does transfer to the web (although maybe not as well) and TV stations’ staffs are a lot smaller. Everything I shoot makes air because my station can’t afford to take me out of the mix for any length of time.

    Newspapers have been smart to take to the web early and put resources toward video but everything involving video that a newspaper does is “original web content.” I would love to produce a five minute web-only piece but I have to produce four to five completely original packages every week to feed the television monster. For example, the two stories mention above we’re done in a single day for a 4:30 pm newscasts. It’s not better or worse, it’s just the reality of the situation.

    Howard, the TV photogs that “beat (you) newspaper folk over the head” are threatened by the change our business it going through. I bet they are not much different than certain people at the newspapers who think newspapers shouldn’t be doing video.

    Angela, I agree that TV people should go an work for newspaper web sites and television stations should hire print web people. See cross-pollination at http://digitalcorrespondent.com/?p=72. Only when we stop seeing our business as TV or newspaper and start realizing that we are all journalists will we really see convergence.

    Great comments, Thanks.

  6. Kyle
    I did some VJ stuff towards the end of my career…but the news directors always wanted the reporter’s face and (asides from the fact mine cracks lenses) I felt the story flowed better with narration – that was enough “voice.” You have some good stuff there and I’m glad to see you’re leading the charge.
    And thanks for the very logical explanation about the difference between broadcast video and print video. You are so right – anything you do is for your station’s airwaves. That is your job. Whenever print folks shoot video it has to go on the web cause there is no way they can post it onto a sheet of paper. (Duh moment)
    Frankly I think one talented person working alone can outdo a team many times. There are no communication issues. There should be no wasted steps because the VJ/DC knows exactly what is needed. The only thing I really like about the two person (or more) team is the safeguard of a second pair of ears/eyes to confirm information/facts and to make sure the story stays objective. Plus (and you’ve been there) having someone at your back when the situatioin warrants it.

  7. I’m learning a lot from these comments – and in visiting Howard Owen’s blog and reading the comments from Lenslinger, realize there is more happening w/web on TV in other areas than in my own (tiny) market. And who knows if my market/Sacramento or others are typical or atypical.
    Sometimes I think we examine our navels way too much. Those in the trenches are too busy working. Those of us who are out of the biz think too much. Yes, we should look to the future and anticipate and prepare…but it is all sheer conjecture on our parts as to what will happen – until it happens.

    Sunday evening, sipping pomegranate wine…watching the Delta winds blow……

  8. From lenslinger.com

    …Wow, I feel like I should go shower off or something. Derision aside though, these print people do have a few good points. We TV News shooters do appear slovenly compared to our on-air partners. I mean, have you seen the size of the amount of hairspray those people travel with? I once saw a consumer guy take out an entire family of woodchucks with a single can of Aqua-Net….

    (peace)

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