Friday, September 19, 2008

hard nosed video journalism reporting

Dave Lee - extraordinary blogger posted this below - a great conversation piece for the heart of coal-face video journalism.

I have posted a response below which I hope opens up the debate about video journalism-on-the ground.

Dave Lees Blog

The best reporting at the US elections, from an unlikely source

Back in January of this year I wrote a review of Gnooze, a quirky news site featuring the wonderful Marta Costello.

I remember thinking “she’s really on to something” back then. In a typical late-night surfing session, I decided to check in on Marta. See what she was up to. I wondered what she made of the elections.

I found this incredible report. Watch it. To the end. The final few scenes really are gripping stuff.

My response:

Strong story.

What makes it work?

A few things:

  • Getting dirty ie huddling into the story, something photo jos do time and time again, and it may seem odd, but the stanza of video journalism, “getting down and dirty” is closer to photojoing than news broadcasting.
  • Staying with the story - Many broadcasters will be working to a deadline show so will only be able to parachute in and out.
  • A good VJ team would stay with the story, they do; a good VJ swarm team would “swarm and tag” the story from many quarters.
  • Being fearless and discreet, where possible - smaller cameras give you greater cover.
  • Intending to go off the beaten track of the news agenda - though you prob wouldn’t know the majors weren’t covering this till you got down there or enquired from the organiser.

Broadcasters WILL miss stories. VJims strongest asset is a combination of covering “Non news agenda” but also how the film is produced ie the exposition.

VJS strength

One aspect of the shoot is what we call “open wide”. It requires a fearless quality, good picture/location judgment and a steady hand from the shooter because the action’s unfolding before your very eyes.

Then the construct kicks in. e.g. some of the VJs I work with would have been trying to track the flight of the gas canisters. It’s the “verb” - the action thing that has a profound effect. Requires good whip pan tracking.

Also the presenter here conveys a good sense of what’s going on. She’s not afraid to brave it; something forcs ( foreign correspondents) , and yes some domestic reporters do more often in troubled spots.

Interestingly and lets not take away from the fact it’s strong “theatre”, but Dave you said it yourself ” The final few scenes really are gripping stuff”.

But how do you get to those scenes, the chronological way or strongest pics ( agency approach)

The options for the team was a slow build up in which case the cue could have hinted at later. Or to reveal a slice of what happens and then build backwards to reveal the dénouement .

I’ll go have a look at their site, because having done this, there’s some great follow ups to get.

Great stuff


p.s latest addition to the post, the wonderful Marta Costello should learn the basics of shooting. She's talented plenty enough from what we see. However, the conventional route of reporter/ camera person is an achilles here, at least a major part at the end.

There were a couple of characters we could have gone back to during the riots, but the camera person did not have that immediate option, as he reaction from Marta was required. If Marta could film herself here this would have freed up the camera operator.

to get immediate reaction elsewhere.

p.s I have wanted to fold some of my deeper thoughts as well many newspaper, magazine articles and things like deep video, and managing story chaos into a manageable book.

Hopefully I'm a step nearer because of the fantastic Hillman Curtis. Once again Hillman thanks ever so much.

And thank to everyone else. I'm likely going to pull the plug on this blog soon, as I concentrate on a number of projects, one of which may well be looking at blogging itself.

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