Many people believe that TV news reporters just research the story, write the script, and read the script on air standing in front of a camera. I’m guilty of thinking that too before I started studying broadcast journalism. Little do these people know that being a broadcast journalist can be so much more than just researching and standing in front of a camera. It is very important for broadcast journalists to know two things in addition to writing and reporting: shooting video and then editing that video. This type of journalism can be called “one-man band journalism” or “backpack journalism.”
Broadcast journalists must know how to shoot and edit their stories as well as writing and reporting the stories for a number of reasons. First of all, many reporters start their careers after college as “one-man bands” working for local stations. This means that they would have to research, write, report, shoot, and edit each other their packages on their own. I know in my experience, a lot of my journalism professors have told me that I would most likely have to create my own stories without any help when I graduate and get a job. Therefore, journalists must be prepared and know all aspects of creating a broadcast, whether it is news, sports, or entertainment; just in case. Then, once journalists become more experienced, they may get hired by bigger networks and receive an editing and camera team.
Secondly, shooting and editing their own footage gives journalists the freedom to put more depth in their stories. They have the power to be creative with their stories and really put their heart and soul into the piece. In addition, the journalist’s personal experience covering the story allows them to make the package more informative and give the package a certain level of depth that hired editors who didn’t go onsite with the reporter wouldn’t be able to give. The ability to shoot and edit footage is a skill. Poynter adjunct and journalism professor at University of South Florida St. Petersburg Casey Frenchette explains this concept further in his Poynter blog.
Thirdly, it is cheaper for reporters to shoot and edit their own footage. In today’s less-than-perfect economy, big-name networks as well as local TV stations are starting to adopt one-man-band reporting because it is very costly to hire editors and TV crewmembers. If networks and local TV stations have reporters who are experienced in shooting and editing video, it is most likely that they will hire those reporters to save money.
The final major and perhaps most obvious reason is the rapid growth and popularity of technology. More and more reporters are using other means of technology besides a camera to shoot a story, including their smartphones. Smartphones are booming in the media industry because they are so convenient and easy. If there is a breaking story happening, a reporter can just take out their phone and record. Most of the time, there are editing apps on smartphones that allow reporters to edit their video right on their phone. This method of reporting is timely, convenient, and efficient.
As I mentioned, there is plenty of valid reasons behind why journalists should learn how to shoot and edit their footage. Take a look at this video made by journalist Yeong Lim for some statistical information and a few examples of “one-man band” journalism.