Enough is enough!

In the spirit of John Seigenthaler, permit me a rant.

For the past year (and longer), I’ve been working with a couple of clients owned by Young Broadcasting. I’ve written often about the creative stuff WKRN-TV and KRON-TV are trying to do, and I’m proud to be associated with them. As WKRN GM Mike Sechrist says, “You expect to take a few arrows when you’re pioneering,” but the arrows of late have gone beyond the point where I can remain silent.

Hell hath no fury like disgruntled TV news employees, especially those with an anonymous pulpit.

The same kinds of people in our industry who bitch about quality and standards find it useful and convenient to hide behind anonymity in posting slanderous lies on industry “discussion” boards about my two clients. These attacks are personal and outrageous. I’m not talking about misperceptions over what’s taking place; I’m talking about out-and-out fabrications delivered with inflammatory rhetoric designed to be hurtful. To the people who run these boards and permit this: shame on you. Like Mr. Seigenthaler did with Wikipedia, some day somebody is going to demand IP addresses and pull the curtain back.

Recognizing the trends in our industry, these two stations have had the courage to try something new. I’m talking about switching their newsrooms to the inevitable Video Journalist concept. Both are in competitive situations that allow them to do this, and the whole industry is watching. That’s fine, but the headlines, personal attacks, twisting of the truth and plain lies from people who choose to snipe from the sidelines via these discussion boards have moved beyond the point of distraction to one of tortuous interference.

What is their motive, if not to do what they can to make sure the transition fails? Now let’s think about that for a minute. VJs are a proven method of newsgathering in other parts of the world, so it’s not that it “can’t” work. It’s that these spoiled brats don’t want it to work, presumably because it means more work on their part. Rather than work within the organization to make the transition a success, they choose to work against it and then stand back and say, “I told you so.”

The spin offered by these liars is that the VJ concept is an insult to their “professionalism” and a move by the company to save money. To be insulted is their prerogative, but to say these stations are trying to do it on the cheap is completely false. WKRN, for example, bought 14 new vehicles for the VJs. Not one position has been cut in that newsroom. Not. One. It’s true that some people have quit over the move to VJs. You can do that when you’re insulted. The reality, however, is that the number of people bailing isn’t nearly what we’re being led to believe by these anonymous posters.

One thing we’re learning is that the newsroom management has to change as much as the troops, but that is being addressed. That’s not good enough for some, however, because their expectations are for overnight change, and when it doesn’t happen, it becomes evidence of their delusion.

Another thing that’s reported is that the station has fired people. OMG! Who hasn’t and who doesn’t? People get fired for a lot of reasons, and bad apples tend to rot faster when facing the pressure of change. These people naturally feel like victims, and they immediately hop onto one of these “discussion” boards and vomit their displeasure. TV stations have been firing people since I first got into the business in 1970.

WKRN has bent over backwards to be upfront with people and to try and respond to what’s being learned in the transition process. Over and over again, they’ve spoken with critics in an attempt to let the truth be told, but still there are people who run to the mommy of anonymous posting and are given the opportunity to flat-out lie. And again, this is an industry that allegedly believes that this process is wrong, that professional vetting must take place before publication, that anonymity should only be used in the rarest of cases, and that there is something to be said for honesty and integrity. The hypocrisy stinks, but nobody does anything about it.

Here’s another thing. VJs may well become a way for stations to cut costs downstream. If and when that happens, wouldn’t it be smart to be on the side of employment? None of us are guaranteed happiness, only the freedom to pursue it.

There are two things that bug me most about this. One, what makes people who work in an industry with principles think that those principles don’t apply in “discussing” the industry? Two, what makes people think that their jobs are immune from the disruptive innovations ravaging the industry as a whole? Do they think it’s a passing fad that people armed with gear even less expensive than the VJs use are competing for the same eyeballs as their TV station?

I regularly deal with a lot of people who realize that young people have a tremendous advantage over mid-career folks when it comes to the understanding and use of new technologies. Yet the mid-career types who are most vociferous in their attacks on WKRN and KRON behave as though that’s irrelevant. Are they trying to convince us or themselves?

The VJ path isn’t easy but it’s smart as all get-out, for it forces technologies into the daily work flow that will better equip newsrooms to function in the new, unbundled paradigm. It doesn’t work for everything, which is why the stations still have the betacams and two-person crews. Like everything else in life, it’s not “all or nothing.”

To those reading this who honestly feel they’re right and justified in carrying out these anonymous attacks, take a step back for a minute and look around you. Television stations are (mostly) still making a lot of money, but their companies are undervalued, because investors tend to look at a bigger picture. Trouble is on the horizon for you and your co-workers, regardless of the talent you have (or think you have). Change is inevitable. Do you want to play a role in that change or not? That’s the choice that’s currently being offered to the employees at KRON and WKRN. Would that we could all be so fortunate.
 

Comments

  1. Obviously, you’re very upset. So, I will try not to provoke you by adding to what, I’m sure, will be a list of very inflamatory comments.

    Transitioning to VJs is, and will always be, "a move by … compan(ies) to save money." This is not the same as saying these companies are "doing it on the cheap."

    For you to insinuate that the ultimate goal of this revolution is not fiscal efficiency is disingenuous. So, why shouldn’t those of us at the bottom feel somewhat slighted? You didn’t double our salaries when you doubled our responsibilities. In fact, you didn’t increase our salaries by one red cent. Yet, you ask us to silently accept "more work on (our) part?"

    Mr. Heaton, I’m sorry you’re so upset by this, as I do often enjoy your writing. I can only assume the reason why you’re so upset is that you are conflicted. On one hand, you’re a journalist, who wants to strive for quality at every level. On the other hand, you’re making a living by pushing a model that embraces quantity over quality. So, you lash out at those who point out the flaws of your plan.

    Look, I’m not defending those who use offensive language or baseless arguments. Arguments like those never bother me, because I know the integrity of the source.

    Finally, you spend much of your time deriding those who post their comments anonymously. Well, here’s another anonymous comment. Why? Because I could LOSE MY JOB if my employer learned of my public criticism of this precious model. When you loudly defend it, you’re defending your clients — the very people who sign your paychecks.

    Open your eyes. Accept the criticism. It’s up to you whether it’s a distraction or "tortuous interference." Defend your position. But lashing out like this just gives fuel to the "spoiled brats."

    One more thing, when the day comes, as you predict, that IP addresses "pull the curtain back" on anonymous posters, I’ll be mourning the hit on our first amendment rights — far more important, I would argue, than your "smart" brand of change.

    Jason

  2. Jason,

    I appreciate your comments. Thank you.

    It’s not disingenous to suggest that there are other motives for doing this than saving money. To insist that "fiscal efficiency" (what’s wrong with that anyway?) is the "ultimate motive" is extremely unproductive, because you’ll always find yourself defensive and unsatisfied. And even if it were the ultimate motive, I’d ask what difference does it make in your response?

    Nobody gets a guarantee in life. You want to be paid more for more responsibility, and I don’t believe anybody thinks that’s outrageous. It is, however, also unproductive, because it doesn’t realistically take into consideration factors beyond the command and control of the company that’s paying you. Your anger will blind you to this. No union on the planet can protect people from the remarkable changes (and opportunities) before us in the world of media.

    Now, you have a choice. You can participate in the process and help carve out new practices, expectations and standards, or you can be angry and fight it with all you have — in which case, you’ll one day end up unemployed. Do you honestly think your managers have it all figured out? Get involved, so you don’t start every day feeling that you’re taking it up the backside. If your managers aren’t asking for your input, then shame on them. But that’s a management problem and not inherent in the process.

    Fear of losing your job is not a license to exaggerate and — with some people — simply lie. Besides, what do you want from these bulletin boards? What is it you’re seeking? Venting? What useful purpose does that serve?

    Finally, I mean it when I say that my first loyalty is to the people who work in this industry, and if you’ll ask anybody who really knows me, they’ll tell you that’s true. I got involved in this to help an industry that I dearly love. If you think I’m lining my pockets in so doing, just ask my wife. The sacrifices we’ve made — and continue to make — aren’t deserving of such an opinion.

    Good luck to you.

    Terry

  3. If we can get past the debate over anonymous complaints, let’s address a key issue — quality. fact is, in the vast majority of cases, one person can’t do two things at once. You can’t, while shooting the fire, sidle over to a firefighter you’ve run into on previous stories and find out while chatting that the arson squad has been called in. Etc, etc. And, while shooting the Salvation army holiday party for the underpriviledged, you can’t also be on the phone with the show producer discussing the accuracy of a legally sensitive lead to your package for 11. And example after example. yes, I’m sure there are cases in which one man band is fine. But, bottom line, in most cases it is a solution that steps back, not forward, in fulfilling a journalism organization’s compact with its audience.

  4. Out of curiosity, what lies are you referring to?

    I have no problem adapting. It’s crucial in any technical industry. If some new idea or piece of technology is going to make my life in the field easier, I’m all for it. If you cannot or choose not to adapt, be prepared to go down with the ship.

    What I don’t understand, though, is the blind attachment to a system that’s proven to have zero success in this country. It was adopted in 1992 by New York 1. They kept the system for ten years. What system are they using now? Traditional crews.

    If anything NY1 should be the flagship for the "VJ system." Instead, the abandoned it.

    I’m much more inclined to adapt to successful ideologies instead of failing, ill-advised "models" introduced by folks who’ve never even been part of a local news field crew and accepted by floundering companies trying to save a buck.

    I’m not trying to "stir the pot," I’m just curious as to why people support a system with no track record of success.

  5. Waaaaaahhhh…

    Someone get that baby a bottle.

  6. David, the quality argument is a smoke screen. I remember when cable first came on the scene. CNN was a joke and everybody talked about the quality. We even had engineers who said about cable itself, "It’ll never work, because the public won’t accept it. The signal is below broadcast quality." Remember, too, that this "switch" isn’t an all or nothing thing, so to say that two people can do more than one is not seeing the reality of what’s being tried here. There are situations that absolutely justify a two-person crew.

    SeeDee, I’m not going to get into tit-for-tat on lies. I’ll let the stations handle that with the ISPs and the board owners.

    The major difference between today and the NY1 or WAAY experiments is in the editing. That technology didn’t exist back then, and if it had, it might be different. I also think NY1 didn’t take into consideration that it doesn’t work in all situations.

  7. Scott Atkinson says:

    Terry –

    We converted to the videojournalist model five years ago, so I’ve had some time to consider plusses and minuses.

    I went into it hoping/believing that there were mad monk journalists out there who would love to pick up cameras and start telling different, intimate kinds of stories.

    But my experience suggests something short of that: you can train people to shoot, or write, as the case may be, but one orientation tends to drag the other along with it.

    In other words, most of the young folks who work for me shoot because they have to, and not because it’s another way to tell stories.

    The videojournalist concept isn’t nearly as bad as the idea’s detractors claim, but neither does it seem to open new doors, which is ultimately disappointing.

    Best,

    Scott Atkinson
    News director
    WWNY TV
    Watertown NY

  8. Terry –

    Given that you won’t provide even one claim, your argument becomes completely baseless.

    ISPs and board owners have nothing to do with neither opinion nor fact, just as remaining anonymous (known only by a screen name) has nothing to do with the truthfulness of clams already backed by fact, such as NY1’s abandonment of the VJ "system" and Young Broadcasting’s failure to make the VJ "system" work properly.

    You’re obviously that worked up about it that you wrote up a fifteen-paragraph blog entry; why not take it all the way by backing your claims? Leaving the "stations" to handle your burden-of-proof responsibility seems like a cheap cop-out and, thusly, nullifies any work you put into this piece.

    Get in line: we’ve all got opinions. Some of us just have the ability to use proof to back up what we believe.

    Take Neil Orne, for instance. His camera was taken away because he "wasn’t turning enough stories." He was surprised, given the fact that Rosenblum promised him "1.5 stories per week." His station had different ideas, though. VJs are still forced to do same-day turns.

    It’s a little difficult to swallow paragraphs upon paragraphs of your otherwise-passionate blog entry when you don’t bother to provide a few of these so-called "baseless lies."

    But, if it makes you feel better, you can keep placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of anonymity. That is, after all, what those adopting the VJ "system" are used to: taking the easy way out.

  9. Terry:

    I do not believe it is "unproductive" to believe that television stations should accordingly pay their one-man-band reporters for taking on extra responsibility. Additionally, I disagree with your statement regarding "factors beyond the command and control of the company" when it comes to the extra pay.

    Stations that harp about their money problems are the ones that will throw money around on a whim. I used to work at a station that paid their one-man-band reporters the same, or less, than their "traditional" reporter counterparts. That station, which wouldn’t pay a fair salary to their one-man-bands, later spent more than $1 million on a new set. And like WKRN, they bought several new vehicles shortly thereafter. There’s still no significant change in salaries.

    I have nothing against technology. But I see the "video journalist" approach not as some revolutionary new way of storytelling, but as just another cost-cutting move suggested by consultants and adopted by cash-starved stations. No amount of two-dollar words like "paradigm" will obscure that fact.

    As much as I love what I do, it is hard to pursue the "freedom" you speak of when most television stations continue to cut costs and salaries, and increase responsibilities at the same time.

    All the best,

    Howard Beale

  10. I don’t see why it’s a crime to look for ways to make video journalism more "productive".. it’s the way businesses compete and survive.
    As far as salaries go, you’re not being asked to work a 16 hour day, you’re being asked to adapt how you spend your eight hours… dividing your time between shooting, reporting, writing and editing, instead of focusing all your energy in one area. You’re also being trained in new skills that make you more marketable in the future. Why should you get a raise? Are you saying what you’re doing now more valuable than what you did before?

    and Howard,
    You don’t understand the basic differences between ongoing salary expenses and capital investment. You can’t compare salaries and set expenses. Local television is trying to survive. Would you rather they just start shutting down the unprofitable newsrooms or fight for way to make the business model work?

  11. I know absolutely nothing about television news or journalism – I’m just a philosophy major weirdo/borderline goth type – but I think I have a fairly good understanding of capitalism. Raises in salary come when the work one is doing provides more value and worth and profit for the company. If the posters here feel that they deserve salary increases for adopting the VJ model, then they’re implying that the VJ model is better, more effective, and thus deserving of higher compensation. Why rant about it, then?

    Of course, I could have missed the point entirely. What do I know? I’m just one of those people who never, ever watches local TV news, hasn’t for years, and sees no likelihood that I will in the foreseeable future. Why would a bunch of TV news workers give a damn what I think?

  12. Saundra:

    "Why should you get a raise? Are you saying what you’re doing now more valuable than what you did before?"

    Yes I am.

    Television stations save money when they hire one-man-bands, instead of a reporter and photographer. And with the extra responsibilities a "video journalist" assumes, it’s certainly not unreasonable to think that person should be paid fairly for their extra work. But you will often find that one-man-bands make the same, or less, than those who simply report. What you advocate is making a person take on twice the responsibility with no increase in salary.

    "You don’t understand the basic differences between ongoing salary expenses and capital investment."

    Money is money. As I stated, television stations that harp about their money problems are the ones that will throw money around on a whim. A station that can spend more than $1 million on a new set and new vehicles can surely afford to give a modest raise to those whose hard work merits it.

    All the best,

    Howard Beale

  13. Folks, I appreciate the opportunity to respond to these comments.

    Scott, thanks for the feedback. We’re, of course, finding the same thing. It’s especially difficult with a shop that’s filled with people used to doing it the conventional way. Perhaps we could arrange to send people to you for a year or so? I think as long as people have the option to be either/or, then the industry will have a hard time resolving to move to the VJ concept. This is why it’s so difficult to do this in the U.S. Only when people fully realize that they have no choice will this group of "mad monk journalists" appear. I would add that they’re out there right now, disguised as vloggers.

    SeeDee (whoever you are), you’re making my case beautifully. You toss out a false statement about an anchor who was given additional responsibilities and therefore unable to do consistent VJ work, and you use it as some kind of evidence that it validates your opinion. This is your "proof?" Neil Orne is a brilliant VJ, but he’s also a hell of an anchor. Moreover, he functions as managing editor for the morning team, so his hours are extremely limited and don’t justify having his own set of gear when others need it. Another fallacious belief you’ve stated is that he was promised 1.5 stories a week. He was promised more time for a story, but no quota like that. As I said above, if there is a management problem, that needs to be addressed. But it is a separate issue and not evidence of a plan that "can’t" work.

    Howard, your argument about how companies run their stations is specious, because capital expenses and operating expenses are apples and oranges. But don’t take my word for it; ask any accountant. Capital expenses can be deducted over time. Operating expenses are pure expenses. To argue, therefore, that money for a new set or vehicles comes from the same kitty is naive. Moreover, WKRN’s 14 new vehicles were additions to their fleet.

    Stations are cutting costs and increasing responsibility, because they have no choice. If you don’t believe that, then you’re, a), not paying attention to market forces hammering the industry or, b), have no idea about what it takes to run a business in today’s economy. We can agree that this has tragic ramifications for the people who work in the industry, but it’s foolish and unproductive to keep singing the same old song about bad old rich people taking advantage of us poor folk. That’s not to suggest that the people who run these businesses are geniuses, but if we’re going to be able to support our families in this trade downstream, we’re going to have to get involved in partnering with the companies instead of playing antagonist.

    You have two choices, not three. The choices are to willingly participate in change, or quit. To sit back and snipe anonymously from the sidelines is not an option, and it needs to stop.

    Look around you, everyone. Our economy is in deep trouble. The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting wider as we ship manufacturing and other good-paying jobs overseas in our "one-world economy." The American dream isn’t what it used to be, and you and I can’t pretend we’re living in our parents’ world anymore.

    Amid all this turmoil, we have an explosion of media at the grassroots level, and it’s just the beginning. Who will pay attention to this new media? Many of the people who used to pay attention to us. This is not my imagination or some flimflammery that happens to be "out there." It’s reality, and the only way we’ll be relevant in this new world is by breaking that which some of us don’t believe is broken. This is why I feel so strongly about the VJ model. It’s not the be all and end all, and whether it produces compelling television is secondary to the fact that it’s SOMETHING, and it puts the tools of this personal media revolution into the hands of professionals, who, one would think, could do it better than that which is currently available. It’s not about replacing one with the other; it’s about getting off our dead, predictable asses and trying to do something different.

  14. "SeeDee (whoever you are), you’re making my case beautifully."

    Curious, I was about to say the same thing about you. Confused? Continue…

    "You toss out a false statement about an anchor who was given additional responsibilities and therefore unable to do consistent VJ work, and you use it as some kind of evidence that it validates your opinion."

    That’s not opinion. Unfortunately, as you try to push this system, you fail to educate yourself in the product, first.

    "Another fallacious belief you’ve stated is that he was promised 1.5 stories a week."

    Rosenblum has indeed told prospective VJs (as well as folks in various professional message board systems) they will have the ability to work on approximately 1.5 stories per week. He’s said this multiple times and in multiple forms. It might help your case to do a little bit of research before incorrectly labeling fact as my "opinion."

    "This is your ‘proof?’"

    If it comes from the self-proclaimed "guru" of the VJ "movement," then yes. I guess you could consider it proof, sure.

    Funny — you’ve yet to provide any of your own, despite my specific request. If anything, you’ve proven yourself to be like Rosenblum in the fact that you’d rather dodge questions than answer them head-on.

    "Neil Orne is a brilliant VJ, but he’s also a hell of an anchor. Moreover, he functions as managing editor for the morning team, so his hours are extremely limited and don’t justify having his own set of gear when others need it."

    Right, right. So, I’m to believe he carries more weight than everyone else, though his personal blog stated a rather dissatisfied notion about having his gear taken away, because he wasn’t producing enough?

    Hey, whatever helps you sleep at night, fine. Don’t get upset at me because this "system" has failed each and everytime it’s been introduced.

    I’m not really sure what you have against folks who choose to remain anonymous in message board or blog systems. Unfortunately, in order to respond with some form of intelligence, you might consider trying to get past that little problem.

    Unfortunately, you’ve already sidestepped the opportunity to produce any form of solid proof twice.

    You’re not using an anonymous name, yet I find it incredibly difficult to take you seriously.

    Looks like you’ve created your own private paradox. Congratulations on at least that.

  15. Kevin Walsh says:

    It’s not the be all and end all, and whether it produces compelling television is secondary to the fact that it’s SOMETHING, and it puts the tools of this personal media revolution into the hands of professionals, who, one would think, could do it better than that which is currently available. It’s not about replacing one with the other; it’s about getting off our dead, predictable asses and trying to do something different.

    No, it’s about finding new ways to save money.

    Look at the stations that employ "video journalists." They are either in tiny markets (such as Watertown) or are owned by companies that are losing money. Surely you know that Young Broadcasting is losing money. What other motive do they have for introducing "video journalists" at WKRN and KRON? Honestly, it’s not as if the company has anything to lose.

  16. Scott Atkinson says:

    Look at the stations that employ "video journalists." They are either in tiny markets (such as Watertown) or are owned by companies that are losing money. Surely you know that Young Broadcasting is losing money. What other motive do they have for introducing "video journalists" at WKRN and KRON? Honestly, it’s not as if the company has anything to lose.

    The ‘tiny markets’ thing is interesting.

    The implication, I’m guessing, is that whatever we’ve learned won’t scale once you’re out of the boonies and into the real world.

    I’m not sure, of course, but having spent nearly 20 years out in the real world, I think VJs have potential – and I’m not entirely a fan of them.

    As for saving money, we didn’t do it for that reason, and no one got fired/attrited/not replaced as a result.

    We did it because we wanted to find something out – would it be better? Our results have been mixed, but good enough to continue.

    s.

  17. Howard,
    You’re not "taking on twice the responsibility" you’re taking on different responsibilty. So, no you’re not due a raise simply because your job description is altered to reflect the changes in broadcast journalism. Yes, stations are moving to VJ’s to save money …to make their business model work… not to shift the money to you. That wouldn’t actually save any money now would it?
    Did you get a raise when you had to learn to type your stories on a computer instead of typewriters? Did you get a salary decrease when your station upgraded to lighter camera equipment that required you to carry less weight?
    The marketplace sets the salaries anyway. If you have a skill set or talent that’s in demand and hard to find, you’ll command top dollar. If there are 10 equally qualified people willing to take your job at your salary, you’re not going to get a raise. Be thankful you’re the one with the job!
    Terry is right, it’s all about attitude. Embrace change, help build a system that works…. or move on to some other business that meets your standards (if you can find it.) But don’t sit around poisoning your shop with negativity and unrealistic expectations. Best of luck finding happiness in or out of the biz!

  18. "You’re not ‘taking on twice the responsibility’ you’re taking on different responsibilty."

    Saundra, do you even work in TV news? Specifically — in the field?

  19. Scott Atkinson says:

    Slightly OT from the main weight of this thread, but I read the NPPA article on VJs last night and something jumped out at me – the cameras.

    I thought I was just stupid, but after several years of searching, we have been unable to come up with a mini dv that adaquately replaces our current camera choice.

    That means my folks are burdened with lugging around beta SX. I really, reallly hoped to move to a much llghter camera in 2006, but we once again couldn’t find mini-dvs that would allow us to transparently feed video back through the live truck, or – even more basic – came with a light post.

    On top of that, we demoed a number of mini dv cameras, and while everybody liked the weight, nobody was really confident we could make as good pictures.

    I know one argument is the pictures don’t need to be "as good" in the traditional sense, because VJs are a new paradigm, etc., etc.

    I’m not there personally, and we’re not there as a shop. We want great pictures in the old fashioned sense, even if we’re one person banding it.

    Terry, how are you folks dealing with the mini dv issue? As of now, I have once again delayed moving to mini dvs for a couple of years, and have acquired some more SX gear.

    Scott A.

  20. Scott, the cameras are one of the things that make the concept work, and I don’t find much difference in quality. The reality shows all use these cameras, and I have a friend who runs a nice production company in Memphis (a former news photog) who actually prefers his PD-170. I won’t stand here and tell you that a $5k camera is the same as a $30k camera, but even I wouldn’t want to be a VJ with an SX camera.

    The stations are acquiring the hard drive blocks that sit on the back of the cameras, so that the VJs can edit right off the hard drive…instead of taking the time for the laptop to ingest the video. This, too, is a huge advantage. I recommend you give Mike Sechrist a call. He’ll be happy to speak with you.

    Also, Sony has come out with a "professional" version of the camera that sells for about $15k. Why would they do that if they didn’t think the demand was there? We don’t think the differences are worth the expense, but you might.

  21. Not any more, but I spent 15 years in the field, putting together great stories with great photogs… but I also watched a lot of pkgs end up in mediocrity or worse because the right video didn’t get shot by lazy or untalented shooters… or because of poor editing. (And yes, I knew how to communicate with my photographer in the field about how the story would be put together and still some photogs would come up without the necessary b-roll.)
    I concede there are situations where a one-person crew would make the story tough to do right… but in many cases, having total control over the product from start to finish would have been a kick.
    I edited my own stuff in the first market I worked in (even though I was primarily an anchor and reporter.) I loved tinkering with the visuals and sound. I once had a senior anchor type tell me I shouldn’t have admitted to management that I knew how to edit– I had created more "work" for myself. The way I looked at it, I was there for 8-10 hours anyway, I didn’t mind actually pushing the buttons myself instead of sitting there watching an editor do it. Of course, in a situation where I needed to be fact checking or preparing for live shot, I let someone else do the editing… and that needs to be possible under the VJ model! There were, no doubt, also cases where I missed out on the collaborative creativity of one of the better photographers. But there were many more times when I was "hands off" that I came away with butchered nat sound or jump cuts or uninspired editing made by someone who didn’t give a crap… (who sat around feeling underpaid and therefore took no pride in their work?)
    To me, you do the best work you can under the circumstances out of a sense of pride… not because of the size of your paycheck. Should salaries be higher? Sure, they should be for teachers and a lot of other professionals too. But again, the marketplace sets the salaries, pure and simple. Did your J-school fail to educate you about TV news salaries before you entered the business?
    By the way, I don’t have to remain in the biz to see that TV news is changing. I’m hoping, however, that the craft of news storytelling can evolve rather than become extinct. I’m rooting for the innovators.

  22. Scott Atkinson says:

    Terry –

    Thanks. I was prepared to accept 90% of the SX’s quality (in fact, PD-170s were in the running early) for much lighter gear.

    Our problem was, specifically, portable lights – even the SXs need light, and I didn’t buy the "these mini dvs are great low light cameras" argument.

    We looked at a light belt arrangement for mini dvs, but thought the whole thing was just…awkward.

    Plus, there’s the feed issue.

    We were about to bite on Panasonic’s tapeless format and cut with Avids when I stopped the train.

    s.

  23. Light is an issue, depending on the situation. My take is that we’ll figure it out. Haven’t we always done so? Light belts? OMG, let’s hope not. I’m not clear what you mean by "feed issue."

  24. Scott Atkinson says:

    Feed as in – in camera feeds to and out of live truck.

    One other comment about SX and the fact that we’re still largely cuts only editing.

    They both should be disadvantages, and are, to a degree. OTOH, the fact that the SXs are relatively heavy means we shoot on sticks more, which is in general a good thing.

    Not having dissolves as an option means our folks have to be surer their video makes sense and can sustain the story.

    btw – I don’t do it all the time but I do shoot, in good weather and bad (and we have fiercely bad weather in northern New York) so I have a rich appreciation for just how hard the job is.

    s.

  25. Terry,

    I am compelled to now call you on the carpet for your lies. While you go on and on about "out-and-out fabrications delivered with inflammatory rhetoric designed to be hurtful", you should really check your own facts.

    You claim that at WKRN "Not one position has been cut in that newsroom. Not. One." That’s completely wrong Terry. I WAS the Special Projects Producer at WKRN until that position was eliminated last month.

    Please get your facts straight before ranting about the "fabrications" of others.

  26. Jackie, I appreciate your coming here to share what happened to you, but as I understand it, the billet for that position was moved elsewhere. Eliminating a position doesn’t always mean altogether removing a body from the overall count. Good luck to you. I "lost" my job several times during my career. It’s not a fun thing, but you’ll land on your feet. The biggest problem is boredom, which I resolved by involving myself with Lego blocks.

  27. Kevin Walsh says:

    It’s especially difficult with a shop that’s filled with people used to doing it the conventional way. Perhaps we could arrange to send people to you for a year or so?

    Small markets tend to hire reporters straight out of college, and these people do know how to do the one-man-band job. And they know how to do it. Many journalism programs require students to learn how to shoot and edit video, because they will likely start out at a one-man-band shop. That’s how I started.

    I can’t speak for Scott’s situation, but I think it’s an issue of turnover, and not just people who do things the "conventional" way. Most reporters will only stay in a small market for a year or two. Once their contract expires, they’re out the door, and will be replaced by another college grad willing to work for under $20,000 a year. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    A lot of reporters nowadays can do things the "conventional" or "unconventional" way. They just don’t want to do it out in the sticks for their entire life. No amount of "video journalist" consultants can change that mentality.

  28. Kevin Walsh says:

    Whoops, slight redundancy in the first paragraph!

  29. Kevin Walsh says:

    Whoops, slight redundancy in the first paragraph!

  30. Kevin Walsh says:

    Oh I give up! 😛

  31. Scott Atkinson says:

    I can’t speak for Scott’s situation, but I think it’s an issue of turnover, and not just people who do things the "conventional" way. Most reporters will only stay in a small market for a year or two. Once their contract expires, they’re out the door, and will be replaced by another college grad willing to work for under $20,000 a year. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    Kevin –

    Yes and no, FWIW.
    I tend to keep young ‘uns for 1-3 years. Even though it’s the tiniest of markets, we pay significantly better than the number you mentioned, plus we actually pay OT without people having to fight for it.

    I know a lot of small stations are bottom feeders, and I’m lucky this isn’t one of them. My young folks tend to leave for one reason: they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives in Watertown.

    One thing I do disagree with you about: I hire probably 90 percent of my folks from Syracuse University, and at least in SU’s case, reporters tend to not learn much about the shooting end of it. We usually teach em’ pretty much from scratch.

    s.

  32. Terry:

    Still waiting for you to back-up your claims of all these supposed "lies."

    And please, don’t give us that "letting the message board owners and TV station managers take care of it" crap. What a cop-out.

    — seedy

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