Here are some suggestions and observations on how to establish that relationship.
NBC News correspondent Bob Dotson tells reporters to look for help and advice from the videographer. "They should have a shorthand, kind of like what a married couple would have," he says. "If you have this sort of camaraderie, the videographer is going to think, maybe for the first time in his life, that somebody thinks what he's doing is important."
Dotson credited Tom Zannes, a freelance cameraman for NBC, for the out standing video used in Dotson's excellent package about a woman trapped in a cavern in Carlsbad, New Mexico. Zannes was in the cavern with the team that was exploring it for the Encyclopaedia Britannica when a member of the team slipped and broke her leg. When Dotson arrived at the scene to cover the story, Zannes was still in the cave. Dotson said Zannes was allowed to remain there during the rescue because he is a world-class caver and because "he knew when to take pictures and when to put the camera down and help with the rescue."
Reporter Morton Dean says it is always a good idea "to discuss with the videographer what you are looking for,what your expectations are, and what you plan to do with the story."
Former CBS News correspondent Ben Silver says that if there is not a close working relationship between the reporter and the videographer, each may go off in a different direction, and they won't end up with a good product. "If you want videographers to get good video for your story," he says, "they have to know where you're going with the story."
Silver, now professor emeritus at Arizona State University, says reporters should remember that videographers often have journalism backgrounds and have good ideas too. "Two sets of eyes are better than one," he says, "and three sets of eyes are even better." Silver notes that when reporters are working on a story, strangers sometimes approach them with information. "Listen to them," Silver advises. "They may have seen something you and the videographer missed because you were busy doing something else. You always have to keep an open mind."
If you start out in a small market, which is where most young people right out of college begin their careers, you may not only be reporting the news. You may be shooting it as well. To save money, many small stations-and even some bigger ones-are hiring people who can "do it all."
Due to lighter cameras, digital technology, and tighter budgets, some stations are employing people who know how to write, report, and handle a camera in the field. At some stations, those same people edit the stories when they return to the station. Many of the people who are working alone seem to enjoy the freedom of doing everything by themselves. Does the quality of the product suffer? Probably, but those writing the checks often are willing to accept less quality if it costs fewer dollars. On the positive side, it means that there may be more opportunities for young people who have learned the basic skills writing, reporting, and videography.
Michelle Kosinski, the bureau chief in Salisbury-Piedmont for WSOC-1V in Charlotte, says working alone helps her get better stories. "It's just me and my camera," she says, "so people tend to tell me more. They feel closer to me." Kosinski says she writes her story while she shoots. "There's a beauty in seeing something and making it look the way you want it to look."
Lisa Goddard, who worked on her own in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, before moving on to another reporting job, agrees. She liked having control over her packages. "You can shoot based on how you want to write," she says. But Goddard admitted that being alone was difficult when she had to do stand-ups. She said that for the first 2 weeks on the job she kept cutting off her forehead.
Peter Landis, news director at NYl, the 24-hour cable news operation, has 23 people who both shoot and report. He says economics force newsrooms to do more with less. He asks: "Why pay for two people to do the job one person can be trained to do?"
James Rosen, a former one-person shooter-reporter, sometimes referred to as a video journalist, says, "I loved shooting but hated the schlepping," He recalls that, when he was working for News 12 in the Bronx, he once covered a college graduation speech by Bill Cosby and had to park 10 blocks away. He says he left the tripod behind and blew his stand-up. "The quality of the piece suffers," he added, "when you work alone." Rosen says he was grateful for the challenge and opportunity to learn the skills. Rosen is now a Washington correspondent for Fox News Channel and has a videographer, editor, producer, and makeup person.
Steve Sweitzer, news operations manager at WISG-1V in Indianapolis, doesn't think that news videographers should be worried about losing their jobs. He says the videographer's job may be redefined somewhat, but there is still plenty for two people to do when out on a story. "Two minds are still better than one," he adds. Sweitzer says news operations that value quality will hire pros to operate the cameras and get the most out of the equipment. That feeling is shared by Jim Disch, director of news and programming for CL1V in suburban Chicago. "We prize our photography," he says. "We use tripods unless we're running after something." And he adds that he believes the station will best serve its viewers by hiring both videographers and reporters.
Jack La Duke, New York state bureau reporter for WCAX-1V in Burlington, Vermont, has been going solo for 35 years and loves it. But he admits it is not a perfect way to cover the news. He says you are shooting the interview and thinking about the questions, listening, and asking follow-up questions while worrying about the focus and the batteries. He says he enjoys working alone, but it's not for everybody.
Some critics also raise safety issues about working alone. In breaking news, the reporter often watches the videographer's back and helps protect that person from danger. Sweitzer notes that good reporters stand right next to the videographer. Other news directors worry about theft of equipment when only one person is doing the job. Still another news director was concerned about stand-up shots, which he described as "often god-awful when only one person is trying to shoot and talk at the same time."
Despite the criticism of "one-man bands," Michael Rosenblum, a former producer at CBS News, is busy training them. He said his consulting firm has trained more than 1000 people to be shooter-reporters in the past 10 years.
For students interested in broadcast journalism, we advise you to learn how to do it all as well as you can, not necessarily because you may have to do everything in your first job but because if you know how to write, shoot, and report, you will be able to cover all of the bases. That background will make you better at your job, whatever that job may be.
The gear available to field crews has improved dramatically in the past decades as digital technology has made steady gains for video recording. But even as the gear becomes lighter and more foolproof, there are still fundamental techniques that must be followed when working as either a one-man-band or with a videographer.
First, television relies on great video. Viewers will quickly lose patience with a newscast that offers out-of-focus footage that is shaky and has an unusual bluish tint. Anyone working with field gear must instinctively use a mental checklist (white balance, filter, focus, fresh tape, etc.) before recording.
Second, even though excellent audio is expected in radio newscasts, it IS equally vital in television news. The correct microphones are needed, mic levels must be monitored, and earphones should be standard in all shooting
Finally, reporters and videographers must work together to create the best images and sound possible. While one-man bands are common in smaller television markets, the benefits of having a videographer cannot be understated. Not only do they provide technical expertise for a news story, they also enable the reporter to offer the best package possible.
Test Your Knowledge
1. What are some of the basic rules to remember to take care of videotapes in the field?
2. What are the three standard components of a video camera?
3. Why is it important to use camera filters?
4. What does white balance do?
5. How can you easily tell if an interview subject is being shot too far to the side,
revealing too much profile?
6. What is a sequence?
7. How long does a frame last?
8. What are the basic types of field microphones?
9. What are the two different types of audio?
10. What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of working as a one-man