Old News

A crappy job by any other name is still crappy:

Under a new agreement reached this week with its labor unions, WUSA, Channel 9, will become the first station in Washington to replace its crews with one-person “multimedia journalists” who will shoot and edit news stories single-handedly.

Multimedia Journalists = One-Man Bands

I know because I started in TV news as a one-man band. I did it all. I would find the story, hop in the truck, drive to the location, prop a huge heavy camera on my shoulder, shoot the b-roll and interviews, attempt to get a snippet of myself on camera by setting up a tripod and hoping for the best, and then rushing back to the station to write, track, and edit the piece in time for air.

The gig exists in small market stations across the country because young reporters are hungry and willing to work cheap. I made $15,000/year.

But while the arrangement is great for the station and its bottom line, it’s not good for the news consumer. When you have one person doing it all, the product suffers. Even if the reporter’s a decent shot (and I like to think I was), the end product’s not going to turn out as professional as something you’d see on TV in a larger market where talented people specialize in what they do best. The shots are crisper. The reporting’s more thorough. The editing’s cleaner. That’s just the way it is.

Starting reporters know they have to pay dues and most are willing to struggle through one-man banding knowing it’s a temporary situation and will go away once they move up the professional ladder. Now hearing that big market stations are turning back to cost-cutting consolidation is a real downer.

Don’t be fooled by the flashy new title. This isn’t technology making news gathering better. This is the economy making news organizations more desperate.

p.s. I called it when CNN announced the same thing back in August. Sure enough, look where we are now.

One thought on “Old News”

  1. Jacki, I’ve experienced the same phenomenon you described. It was someting I learned while I was modeling 3D animation, to simulate a news broadcast, which has since become a real news broadcast on CNN.com:

    2007 CNNfan 3D Video sponsored by CNN

    A clip of my video was later reported by beautiful, smart Jeanne Moos in The Situation Room aired on CNN TV.

    You are perfectly correct about teamwork. It is like the audience can naturally detect the teamwork that went into the video and audio. They are more interested, more attracted to the final product of teamwork.

    Oh my goodness ! I just realized something… That makes me one of those Multimedia Journalist, doesn’t it ? Sorry Jacki ! Did I ever mention that you look so young, and you are an extraordinary role model?

    This also means I produced a 3D video in 2007 which is currently sponsored by CNN.com. So technically CNNfan is a CNN producer. 😉 Could someone please let Chez know that ?

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