Video journalist, one-man-band reporter, multimedia journalist … The labels may be different, but the idea is the same: Send one person into the field to shoot, interview, report and contribute live or edited stories from remote locations, thereby multiplying the “feet on the street” and ultimately offering viewers more stories.
With the help of small, lightweight, high-performance HD cameras, solid-state recording media, laptop computers, multimedia tablets, and an amalgamation of contribution technology — including Wi-Fi, WiMAX, bonded cellular circuits, IP satellite and traditional COFDM microwave transmission — it’s never been easier for a sole reporter to “do it all.”
While this approach to newsgathering is far from new, relatively recent developments in the industry and the availability of IP-centric solutions are taking the concept of what can be done by one person reporting in the field to a higher level. For years, many journalism grads landing jobs at smaller market stations have grabbed their camera and their kit, slung their tripod over their shoulders, and headed out of the newsroom for a story. Today, however, that kit is far smaller and lighter, and it certainly includes a laptop or tablet computer with Internet connectivity so that the newsroom’s resources are just a few clicks away.
Today, rather simply being a newsgathering approach relegated to entry-level television reporters, one-person news “crews” are valuable field resources complementing more traditional ENG and SNG setups at local stations of all sizes, network news operations and news bureaus in places as diverse as state capitals and the streets of Egypt.
The latest Hofstra University/RTDNA survey of newsroom staffing sheds light on where multimedia journalists stand in the minds of newsroom managers as they make decisions about who to hire. The results, released in July, show multimedia journalists ranked fifth among top replacement hires and tied for fourth among new hires with photographer and Web producer at local U.S. television stations.
While certainly not at the top of the newsroom managers’ hiring priorities, multimedia journalists were far from last. In fact, they essentially were in the middle of the pack, which included titles as diverse as anchors and Web producers.