The ins and outs of video journalism

In light of the situation that was broadcast on live television this week that had the media world standing still, I thought it would be a good time to discuss the ins and outs of video journalism.  In particularly, this week we’ll explore the elements that video can bring to a story and how it’s power can easily be abused.

So let’s tackle this confronting issue… the issue that has me as a future journalist left in utter shock.

On the 27th of August, WDBJ Journalist Alison Parker and her Cameraman Adam Ward were broadcasting a story on tourism live to air when the absolute unthinkable occurred.

Their fateful killer, Vester Flanagan stood behind Ward within close range of Alison… both unaware he was in their presence when he fired numerous gunshots at them.

Most horrific of all, Flanagan who was formerly employed by WDBJ was filming the entire ordeal with his mobile phone. Publishing the entire thing on Twitter under the account of, “@bryce_williams7” almost immediately afterwards while running from the police.

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The confronting feed, which was quickly disabled by Twitter shows the erratic thinking of the cold-blooded murderer and the final horrific moments of Parker and Ward’s life.

Broadcasting via the smart phones become so easy today, that its power (as demonstrated in this situation) can often be abused.

This horrific use of video posed a large question in my mind in regards to my own future practice…

How important is video when telling a story in modern times? 

To help me answer this question, this week we spoke to Fairfax’s National Head of Video, Ian Vaile who shares his decade of rapidly growing experience of why video has become paramount in engaging the audiences of today.

He spoke of his own experiences of how he’s seen the media grown in regard to video and what vids’ always the largest audiences.

“The videos that get the highest traffic with us in the past couple of years have been animals: snakes on a plane, sharks fighting seals, snakes eating crocs, and of course the shark/surfer clip a few weeks ago. That just shows audiences are also seeking diversion, not just serious straight news,” he says.

I thought this quote summed up brilliantly what the audience of today or more specifically the online audience crave in regard to their news.

Video Journalism remains on a dramatic rise due to changing user behaviour, such as: consumption expectations, increased internet accessibility and most importantly growth in viewing platforms on mobile devices. This uprising is happening quickly and on a global scale.

While the #WDBJ was horrific circumstances – it had the capacity to engage an extremely large audience and social media following on the various hashtags that emerged. Alike this was the “Mick Fanning Shark Attack Video” which had a similar audience engagement level, both immediately placed online within their original state.


The times are quickly changing, so how does a future Journalist keep up?

Ian Vaile, gave us an insight of what he looks for in a Journalist and how to keep up and the growth of the industry.

  1. Vaile says that he looks for a multi-skilled journalist who can write text, take stills and produce competent video.
  2. He doesn’t hire video reporters, he hire VJs who can do every part of the video workflow – “produce, shoot, post, publish – and who can also write text as required”.
  3. “It is easier than ever to gain the skill s to work competently in video, but that’s really something you have to take control of in your own career,” he says.

While times are changing it’s easier than ever for a Journalist to take control and adapt.

RIP Alison Parker and Adam Ward


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