VJs: villains or victims?

Makes you wonder…when an industry pins its hopes on the very people it is perceived as victimizing.

Yeah…I’m talking VJs here. Videojournalists. Video. Journalists.

Envisioned originally as stellar members of an elite cadre, they were meant to be the ultimate in visual journalists – one person, a camera, computer and the ability to see and tell a story on their own.

The concept threatened the traditional shooters in broadcast and challenged many in the print industry to take on a new role.

And then there were the haters. One person can’t do it all. They’re taking jobs away from (you name it).

Management saw dollar signs…one station, KRON in San Francisco…even going so far as to completely switch the the VJ model, claiming its reporters and even some anchors would learn how to perform as VJs.

Well now the final tally is in – and guess what? KRON is embroiled in the Chapter 11 filings of its parent company and VJs are taking part of the heat – at least in KRON’s case – for the fall.

In an article posted on the NPPA website…

“The station became mired in debt, was impotent in the market after losing its network affiliation, and the VJ newscasts lost in the ratings against stations with traditional news crews.”

So Superhero VJ was not able to save the day. They’re just plain folks, you know. Kinda like you or me. Pinning hopes on a single model…which I saw newspapers scrambling to do a few years back as they shifted to video…is not THE answer, but possibly only part of the answer. At the SFBAPPA Digital Day this pas December, Sacramento Bee photographer Manny Cisneros said that he hopped on the VJ bandwagon, but something happened along the way and he is no longer shooting video fulltime.

VJs are one of many options…and news should provide as many of these options to the audience as it can so it will appeal to all possible readers/viewers.

Supermen we ain’t.

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