Multiskilling tv shooters : LUSENET : Dirck Halstead : One Thread



Ken Harkness, from down in New Zealand posted the following to the NPPA discusion list.

"I'm a News Director/producer with TVNZ, in New Zealand...interested to get some information on the subject of multi-skilling .. and how best to use staff proficient in more than one craft.

Increasingly journalists coming out of our colleges are also being trained to cut, and sometimes shoot and we're now just going through the process of looking at how to incorporate people with those extra talents in the way we operate.

As we look forward to desk-top editing, and server-based newsrooms there are fears, particularly from our editors, that journalists and camera crews will be trained to take their jobs.

It doesn't seem that likely to me but since I've got a possibly narrow "down-under" view of the business I thought some on the list might be kind enough to share their experiences.

Some of our photogs, for example, can't see the sense in also learning how to edit. Each cameraman, or woman, here is equipped with their own gear, and van: no sense, they say, in having the van and gear sitting idle in the carpark while they cut, or script."


It's interesting to me as "The Platypus Father", to watch the debate starting to arise on the NPPA list about the virtues of multi-skilling television photo journalists in editing and production.

This summer, I was able to demonstrate the new Sony DSR200, an eight pound DVCam ENG camera to the network crews covering the President's vacation in Martha's Vineyard. To a person , they all freaked out over the camera, hoisting it over their heads with one hand as though it were a toy...they all wanted one. It does a better job than their Beta 300s, and only costs $6,000. Break one...throw it away and get another one.

But the real eye opener was to watch them as they began to ponder some of the other implications. For example, they began to realize that with the new format, they could also add tiny prosumer digicams to their run bag, which they could put on clamps and run by remote control to do cut positions on a story .

It is this new technology, that when applied with creative thought, can start to produce a whole new look to television photojournalism.

Still photojournalists have been doing this stuff for years...just look at a horse race for example, and see all the remotely controlled cameras set up.

But the real key to the new photojournalism is the mental leap that is required. As we get into the era of proliferation of 24 hour news channels, and the web begins to morph into intercasting, there will be an infinite spectrum to fill with visual story telling.

This will offer great challenges and opportunities to the photojournalists who want to seize the chance to tell their stories from their own perspectives...unhindered by preoccupied producers or let their visions flower.

But in order to be able to take advantage of these opportunities it will be necessary to perceive them not as threats, adding workload to an already crippling pace, but as the chance to go that extra mile to become a true , complete, journalist.. to grow and take the story to the limits.

As I have said in the Platypus Papers, not everyone can or should do this stuff. There will be enough work in the next few years to keep those who only want to shoot or edit or produce in business. But you will see new stars start to emerge from a craft which previously has been an anonymous calling to inspire others to be all they can be.

-- dirck halstead (, September 30, 1997

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