The VJ concept arrives in the U.S.

Cory and Steve over at Lost Remote have opened a debate (here and here) over news that San Francisco’s KRON-TV plans to switch its newsroom to the VJ concept. It is producing predictable commentary from news people. Not only does the concept threaten jobs, but it’s considered a deep affront to people who’ve spent their lives in the trenches as part of “teams” covering the news. Then there’s the predictable angst coming from old horses who don’t want to learn new tricks.

BBC local went through these same concerns, and they’re doing just fine. Much of local news in all of Europe is done this way, and it’s overdue here. Technology has finally caught up with a concept that’s been around for many years.

There will always be cases where two heads are better than one in the field, but that’s just not the point. The point is the industry is changing, and so what if it’s being driven by economics? I’ve been preaching this for so long that the only thing surprising about the KRON-TV story is that it has taken this long to happen.

I feel bad for people who will be displaced by this and share much of the nostalgic longing for the way things used to be. But it doesn’t change reality, and worse, such emotions can blind people to the upside of this change — the chance to actually participate in moving the industry forward instead of clinging to a sinking ship.

None of this, by the way, has escaped the view of equipment manufacturers. Sony, for example, has come out with a “professional” version of the PD-170 that sells for about four times as much. They see their fatted calf getting whacked, so they’re trying to get ahead of the curve.

And there’s one other important point to make. Bloated television newsrooms are easy pickings for more nimble operations in the local Internet video world. There’s a real battle here that most TV people simply ignore. Newspapers shooting video (in the VJ style, I might add) and local video bloggers (vloggers) are poised to steal the local video news niche right out from under television stations. Reallotment of resources through the VJ concept will better enable stations to compete in this important new marketplace.

(Disclosure: KRON-TV is a client of mine)


  1. Do you plan to disclose that you do some work for Young Broadcasting (KRON’s owners)?

  2. Done. Thanks.

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