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Technology, workflow offer solutions to shrinking TV news resources Part II

Editor’s note: Part I of this story is available on the Broadcast Engineering Web site.

Call it “video journalism,” “backpack journalism” or “multimedia journalism.” Whatever the name, the concept is the same: Outfit journalists with small digital cameras, laptop computers running NLE software and everything else needed to shoot, write, edit and contribute a story.

While this is nothing new for smaller-market stations, the concept has gotten more buzz at midsized and larger stations as newsroom managers look for practical ways to generate more content without adding personnel.

“Obviously, video journalism cuts costs enormously,” says Michael Rosenblum, founder and president of Rosenblum TV, a pioneer in training station personnel in using affordable digital video gear for video journalism. “You can cut the bottom line by 30, 40 or even 50 percent with video journalism, and in the long run, it will be the stations that can cut costs without hurting quality that will survive,” Rosenblum says.

However, among call letter stations in the United States, acceptance of VJ methods has been lukewarm, he says. “We see two or three VJs in a station — usually young kids out of college.” Often these VJs are looked upon as a sort of proof-of-concept by more established journalists in the newsroom who typically are reluctant to do video journalism themselves.

Bob Papper, a professor of journalism at Hofstra University in Long Island, NY, and the man responsible for the annual Radio-Television News Director Association survey of broadcast news staffing, says his research backs up Rosenblum’s observation. There is “a fair amount” of one-man-band journalism going on at stations; however, in 2008, just as many stations dropped video journalism as added it, Papper says. But that doesn’t mean video journalism isn’t on the minds of news directors.

“What’s interesting is every year more news directors say they are looking at it and thinking seriously about it,” Papper says. “That number keeps growing, but not the number who are actually doing it.”

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.