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KRON, WRKN embrace VJ newsgathering model

WRKN-TV in Nashville, TN, and KRON-TV in San Francisco later this year will employ the one-man-band video journalist (VJ) model for all of their newscasts, according to owner Young Broadcasting.

The goal of the VJ model will be to maximize each station's news gathering capacity to achieve a higher news story count by furnishing news department staffers with light, handheld HD cameras.

Reporters, editors and photographers at WKRN-TV, as well as some anchors, will begin an intensive eight-week training session with Michael Rosenblum, an expert on video journalism. (For more on Rosenblum, see “Video journalists extend reach of BBC without adding costs” .

The first WKRN-TV newscasts featuring VJ reports are expected to begin airing by the end of July. The KRON-TV news team will begin training with Rosenblum later this year.

WKRN-TV president and general manager Michael Sechrist envisions VJs giving the station an edge in the market. Using VJs will allow the station to increase the number of stories it reports, “which will differentiate our brand from our competitors while attracting a larger audience," he said.

Relying on VJs rather than the traditional two-man crew of reporter and videographer “will empower a new breed of broadcast journalist,” according to Mark Antonitis, president and general manager of KRON-TV. The VJ model will give the station “stories that have a singular and unique voice,” he said.

Because one person will be controlling the entire process under the VJ model, more efficient news gathering will come into play as time won't be expended shooting extra footage for editors who are not familiar with the background or nuances of the story, he said.

Placing numerous VJs in the field rather than be limited to eight to 12 two-man crews will also allow the stations to increase the level of specialized beat reporting. In turn, this will lead to the development of VJs who develop familiarity with a specific beat and will be able to produce more in-depth segments that inform viewers about issues affecting their communities.

In addition to purchasing new Sony Z-1 HD cameras to support the VJ model of newsgathering, both stations will acquire other new equipment for its VJs, including Dell laptops equipped with Pinnacle Systems editing software.

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