Teaching video to reporters

Note to myself: Must teach students how to handle these two things (both lifted from a post by Cyndy Green).

(1) You know what you want in the story, so tell the reporter ahead of time HOW to shoot the exact footage and HOW to get the audio that you want. (This is much better than just hoping the reporter will figure out what to do with the camera.)

To keep it simple, we told the reporter before he went out to (a) interview the teacher about what they were doing and why, and (b) shoot about 90 seconds of the students working on the project. Teachers are great at talking non-stop with few “ahs” and “ums,” but first-graders are a little harder to work with. We decided ahead that we didn’t have time to mess with that. Back at The Rep, we edited the video to dub the teacher’s interview over the footage of the students. Worked great even though the reporter had no training on the camera because we gave specific instructions ahead on what he should shoot. It took roughly 35 minutes using Windows Movie Maker to edit.

(2) Does the reporter know how to use the camera fast in a breaking-news situation? Does he know what to do with the video upon returning to the newsroom?

A crash around noon during which a toddler was thrown from a car window was unexpected breaking news Tuesday. The chief photographer grabbed a point and shoot and captured the scene. He filmed while the reporter was interviewing a safety official. This video we wanted to get on right away because it was soon dated. The official didn’t know answers to some of the questions. The photographer had put a video together then showed it to a line editor for approval. We wasted some time there because changes needed to be made in the video. We should have had the editor looking at the raw footage when it came in and giving editing instructions, just as we coach our print stories before they’re written. [Note to self, for breaking news: Editors must see raw, unedited video immediately.] Essentially, we had to do the editing again, which took about 20 minutes the second time using iMovie.

Both examples were provided by Veronica VanDress, assistant city editor at the Canton Repository, a newspaper in Canton, Ohio.
These are realistic situations that can be taught. That is, an educator can train journalism students how to think this way.

On a day when I had spent three hours studying camera specifications and reviews, it was a great, great pleasure to think about the journalism part of reporter-shot video. Thanks, Cyndy.

4 Comments on “Teaching video to reporters

  1. Pingback: The Snark Report › Quickie: Video production time

  2. just as we coach our print stories before they’re written.

    Do we really “coach” our print stories before they’re written, or do we coach them after they come to us in first draft? I have to admit that I never had an editor “coach” a story before I’d submitted something in first draft. I don’t think this video edit was much more than that first draft.

    Just some thoughts. I like where you’re going with this, however.

  3. Good point, Bryan. I think it depends on the newsroom, the editor, and the experience of the reporter. If I had a green one who wasn’t coming back with the right sources, the next time, I would tell her whom to talk to before she went out. Or rather, I would do a Q&A with her to teach her how to think about the right people to talk to, and how to get them, and what to ask.

    I find students need a lot of work on thinking of the right questions to ask!

  4. I find students need a lot of work on thinking of the right questions to ask!

    You said a mouthful, there, Mindy. It’s not the first-level questions that seem to trip them up (how much money did you spend?), but the second- (where did it come from?) and third-level (where did it go?) questions. 🙂

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