Video Journalism: Beyond Perception [Alternative Career]

Posted on May 21, 2011 in Alternative Careers

By Radhika Ghose:

Since pictures speak louder than words, wouldn’t videos speak the loudest?

If you have the urge to go out on a limb to be a part of the action, to narrate a story the way it happens, to capture and not squeeze it into a frame it doesn’t naturally fit into — and of course if you understand the video camera and how to use it in a way that will extract the optimum from a present opportunity — then and only then is Video Journalism for you.

Video Journalism is not TV reporting. While the distinction may not be in black and white and, in fact, not something comprehendible to all, it exists. It exists in technique and concept. Video Journalism, like perhaps all other forms of media and journalism, is heading from the television to the internet but that does not restrict video journalists from finding jobs in either sphere.

The world of Video Journalism is a world of adventure. It’s about taking the risk to put yourself out where few dare to go, face the rough terrain and challenges thrown in your way, to have the courage to pick yourself up if you slip and fall, and the determination to continue till you reach your destination. It may sound easy and you have skills of production and handling the camera, it may be even easier — But still it is no picnic.

What is Video Journalism?

As shared by’s David Dunkley Gyimah — a pioneer in the field, states– says “It is simply, the craft of one person producing a factual video story from the start to it being broadcast or going online. The Video Journalist, (VJ) produces, direct,s shoots, narrates and edits their work. The term video journalism is something of a misnomer, because it’s not just journalism packaging VJs excel at making and it’s not a one-size fits all.”

(As you can see by the skills and expertise needed by the Video Journalist, in order to make his/her product successful or read, they will have to be taken in by any news network or form of media.)

“It is the next generation television”, the website continues “story telling in which you are not bound by the many constraints of traditional news production”.

Video Journalism seems to be the answer to a method of sharing news, not just the world changing headlines we see covered repeatedly on television, but also the stories and details that go unnoticed by the world because they were ignored, or just not seen by a television crew.

Video Journalists can share an in-depth human perspective on issues that television news channels and magazines are not at liberty to discuss or disclose.

The Future of Video Journalism — The Web

“Journalists aren’t made, they are born.”

As the world of media moves towards the web – newspapers, magazines, news channels and other media forms will need to get more proactive on the web. They will be competing with video sites like YouTube, and other sites like Vureel and Megavideo to show their own content and will need skilled video journalists to work for them around the clock — so they can maintain their standing in the continuous flow of web-content.

Video Journalists are expected to be effective multi-taskers. Besides capturing the footage itself, they should be familiar with the technology needed to upload their videos, edit and produce them themselves to maintain their own control over their work — or have it handed over to another source.

Travis Fox, an Emmy award winning video journalist, for explains, “The Video journalism vision of single authorship throughout the process will get you some really interesting results. And as the technology gets simpler, if more individuals shoot and cut video — like they create writing — you are going to get a lot of interesting styles and a lot richer body of work as a whole.”

So how can you become a Video Journalist?

There are a few institutes in India itself which can help you get there. Of course across the world in the USA (like with many other courses) you can find specific courses which can help you specialize in Video Journalism. This was mentioned in Hindustan Times’ ‘Want to be A Video Journalist?’ (So clearly, it is a career that people are considering or nobody would have written an article about it!)

So that’s how you get there. But what do you need to get there? How do you know if Video Journalism is for you?

Michel Rusenblem, video visionary, says, “Any idiot can run a video camera”. But during his talk to the society of editors, in their annual conference, he adds that one extremely important quality you need to develop and strengthen in order to embark upon this journey is Courage. Because you will meet challenges and success isn’t guaranteed- especially at the beginning.

Hence it’s a good thing that Video Journalism costs nothing or close to that and gives you the freedom to make mistakes and pick yourself up as you go along.

And lastly, some Tips for Video Journalists.

In an interview with Online Video Journalism, Jim Rankin, an award winning reporter, photographer and video journalist with the Canadian paper, Toronto Star gives 5 tips for future video journalists.

  1. “Get good gear (a DSLR that shoots video and can take external mics, an Edirol audio recorder, a fast laptop and editing software, such as Final Cut Express or Pro).
  2. Get good sound. Very important.
  3. Plan your approach to a story before you start. Ask yourself, what is the glue? Maybe a single interview, with lots of b-roll?
  4. If someone is talking about something, such as riding a horse, show them riding a horse. Sounds silly, but it’s that simple.
  5. Another bid planning question: What is the best way to tell the story? An audio/stills slideshow? Video? Maybe it’s best as a print only story?”