For news videographers who remember the days of shooting stories on film, an article I recently came across might have your head spinning. A producer at WFOR, the CBS affiliate in Miami, taped an entire story the other day using his iPhone.
That’s right, his iPhone! No, the footage wasn’t grainy, but rather broadcast quality.
Even though this was more of an experiment than a new way of covering a story (well, at least not yet), it proves just how much technology is changing how news personnel gathers news. As a reporter works his or her way up the TV news food chain, they usually start out one-man-banding in a small market.
Ahh, one-man-banding. I’m having flashbacks to my days as a reporter in Utica, during which time I ran around town shooting and editing my own stories before jumping in front of the camera for live reports.
Nowadays, those reporters at the bottom of the TV news food chain aren’t the only ones lugging a camera around all day. Thanks to new technology, reporters in major markets — including D.C., Denver, New York City — are now being asked to one-man-band. Some places call them backpack journalists, videojournalists, or multimedia reporters.
Certainly smaller and less expensive equipment has paved the way for this. But, so have other factors. Struggling stations, hit by advertising free fall and fragmentation of audiences thanks to new media, can no longer afford (or at least that’s what they claim) to send out a photographer and a reporter. So, by combining the two roles into one, it cuts costs.
The iPhone story is yet another example of this phenomenon. Does combining the two roles into one negatively impact the quality of content? We’ll save that for another discussion.