A wee story if I may - a post in response to There will be blood on News Videographer
Video journalism as a tag is something of a misnomer. A blessing to some and achilles heel to others. In essence it's digital film making [with a news bent], though news organisations might tell you to try the big auditorium at the end of the road, if you approached them as a film maker.
For as long technology has helped resize film and audio equipment we've worked together, alone, and together with new permutations. And the ethical and social debate about our working practice has never gone away, as it shouldn't.
I was reading over some of the press reports in the UK from 1994 when me and 29 others jumped in head first to become VJs and the comments were hard core from all sides.
There was already a huge bun-fight going on in the networks about becoming bi-media savvy( TV and Radio). Becoming a VJ was asking for it.
The BBC didn't much like it at the time, though six years on it would take the plunge, whilst some three decades earlier it was brandishing its own form of "man with a movie camera" with its current affairs progs.
Back then the Bolex ruled. In radio, the suitcase-sized Nagra, downsized to the UHER and handheld Sony followed.
In effect, the VJ has come to mirror the RJ, radio journalist. From the townships of Soweto and Katlehong circa 1992-94 me and indeed many others, stringers and freelancers, worked solo before filing our packages to outfits such as the BBC World Service.
The editor trusted you and you repaid them with the integrity of the highest level of journalism: tell the story and tell the truth.
At about the same time, I also had a Hi-8, though I didn't call myself a VJ and DP/AP'ed for a number of indies and the odd big boy e.g. ABC News.
At at a prior job at BBC Network in London, Reportage, the Hi-8 was used as an aesthetic film camera for dramatic motion graphic shots (we loved the graininess :)).
And even though in 1993 I never shot whole films, that would come a year later, it was the glue that helped working with camera and editors. Now, for once, I could speak their language and appreciate their craft better without saying: "Can we do that thingy?/*%$@ - You know that thing!!!!".
It was this that enabled the swift turn around of a the pilot series of "Through the Eyes of a Child", which I'm still drawn to today.
Back in London and as Channel One took off Messr. Burn Out was waiting at every corner. Worse for us, we used Vinten tripods and Beta cams BVWs/UVWs. Here's a pic of Rachel Ellison, now knighted an MBE [Order of the British Empire] whom at a little over 5 feet and slight build must have exhibited herculean powers to carry one of these.
Not really solo reporting gear, but you did get your head around things like back focus, white balance to using interchangeable lens. At the end of the year many of us averaged between 400-500 stories; two a day.
The station had its own osteopath and management in an attempt to stem the tide of discontent and give the VJs some freedom came up with shooting rotas called 'The gang of four".
Four Vjs would leave the news desk and work a 7 day fortnight and were required to produce three films. A luxury.
From C1 have come some of the UK industry's talented broadcasters whom will probably say that regime and other programme making skills set them up.
Nick Pollard who would later become head of Sky News had made it worth our while.
I can't think of many other managers with his track record from ITN whom during our three months training, would go out and shoot a piece.
He returned with admiration for us, which was reciprocated.
There's a sense of deja vu at what's going on now. Equally intriguing, you might think, that the first VJ outfit in the UK was owned by a newspaper outfit, Associated Newspapers publishers of the Evening Standard and Daily Mail.
Our intrigue, wonderment, pessimism, fears will never go away; extracts from another profession altogether Modernist Painters ( a 100 years ago) moving away from a tradition (500 years) painting style, could transfer to today's VJ-TV debate.
But I guess in the end it's all about telling stories; stories that you know of that I may never come across until its made.
Benjamin Franklin said: "I haven't failed, I've had 10,000 ideas that didn't work" We can't get better at this by not making mistakes and by making mistakes and pushing on, we build upon these news skills. That much the indie film makers have shown us.
And to the "solo" VJ paradigm, we (at our university) discovered "swarming", VJs working together during Nato War exercises was more beneficial for the reportage. What is going on?