From: Washington Post
By Paul Farhi
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 12, 2008; Page C01
The march of technology and the shrinking economy are beginning to take a toll on the traditional means of television news-gathering: the TV news crew.
Under a new agreement reached this week with its labor unions, WUSA, Channel 9, will become the first station in Washington to replace its crews with one-person “multimedia journalists” who will shoot and edit news stories single-handedly.
I grew up watching WUSA even took a tour with my dad of Broadcast House as a wide-eyed teenager. Now after having been in the news business and realizing DC was not a market I would go to without some huge incentive, now it’s a market I don’t think I’d go to at all…
The continued trend of “multimedia journalists”, while nothing new in smaller markets, will likely drive two important evolutions into the present business of broadcasting within medium to larger scale markets. One, those placed into such positions, and those whom manage such personnel, really should take 1000 steps back and re-evaluate how this is benefiting their product, and/or individual careers in general. What is the ultimate goal here? If it’s purely financial, then what’s the point of generating news to audiences whom take no interest in watching it? Two; with the eventual discontinuation of local affiliates over the next decade, and a constant move towards web-based/instant news… will we [as a industry] see present day and/or up-and-coming multimedia journalists re-evolve the system towards higher journalistic standards, applying past techniques to present day applications?
Often I wonder as news directors, whom I can only assume once upon a time were young reporters, producers, and photojournalists themselves, if the concern for worthwhile story telling, and providing an educational atmosphere for budding journalists whom actually wish to continue within the industry, even a reality anymore? In the market’s I’ve worked within, the majority of management offers little to no guidance for incoming journalists. While this is not the case at *all* shops, it’s an increasing problem.. which results in the continued overall decline in local news. The Washington Post article touches on a couple of the above concerns, yet, as a present day MJ myself whom has remained in the system for over the past decade, it certainly will be a gut-wrenching, bumpy transition to observe. Perhaps it must get worse, before it gets better?
I care about quality, the product, and growth of individuals as story tellers, be it reporters, photojournalists, producers, or combined positions. Certainly, I hope others share similar sentiments, and will continue pushing local and regional journalism into new, worthwhile directions, while breaking free from the present day “quantity over quality” mindset.