A recent Gizmodo story, “Are Cameras the New Guns?,” created quite a stir in journalism circles recently. Gizmodo found that there appears to be an increase in the number of citizens arrested for filming abuse by police, or just police in action:
“In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer.
Read the Full Story (including an interview with media attorneys Robb Harvey and Richard Goehler.)
This raises several important questions for journalists: What should our response be if the ban is lifted? How would we explain the importance of the photographs to the public? How will we buffer the inevitable charges of voyeurism and even, I am sure, anti-patriotism?
I interviewed Poynter’s Ethics Group Leader Kelly McBride and Poynter’s Visual Journalism Group Leader Kenny Irby on Tuesday about how to ethically cover these kinds of situations.
“A YouTube video of KGTV’s Joe Little has been making the rounds lately. Inside of one week, four people sent it to me. Little works as a one-man band. In other words, he shoots his own video, reports the story and edits it.”
Al Tompkins interviews Little to get some insight into his creative process… and explains the situations in which he’d love to have a photography with him.
A recent BBC show has raised controversy about ethical editing of speeches.
“The BBC’s Newsnight show recently opened with what seemed like a single soundbite from President Barack Obama’s inauguration speech. As it turns out, though, the BBC used three different parts of the inauguration speech and edited them together to create the soundbite. In listening to the audio, it’s not clear that it had been edited.”
There are only a few things I am sure of in the world of journalism, but this is one of them: In 2009, journalists will be capturing more video and working alone more often. This is already happening in local TV, in the newspaper and online worlds, and as you are about to see, even CNN’s photojournalists are out there producing entire shows by themselves.
CNN photojournalist Bethany Swain, who works out of the D.C. Bureau, got the idea rolling for a series of big projects called “In Focus.” The series began in 2007 with the premise that the stories would be shot, written, edited and produced by photojournalists.
Since then, CNN photojournalists have taken on tough-to-tell stories for the half-hour show. “Guns in America” aired the same month the Supreme Court released its decision on the D.C. handgun ban. And the photojournalists have addressed more feature-oriented topics, like “Giving in America” during last month’s holiday season.
The stories are photographed in HD and once all of the pieces are done, they are produced into a half-hour special. They are also bundled into a large online package and CNN.com includes still photos taken from the pieces.
One element worth studying in these stories is that there is no reporter narration. It is hard to create a “natpak” (natural sound package) of any complexity and have it hang together without narration. Frankly, I believe most stories benefit from narration, even sparse narration. But some pieces can work just fine without it. I discussed this and more with Bethany Swain.