Friday, July 31, 2009

'Eyewitness News' goes VJ on Saturdays

Columnist Bill Mann reports that KPIX CBS5 has begun having reporters shoot, report and edit their own stories on Saturdays as a cost-saving measure. KRON was the first to switch to VJs for all of its newscasts a few years ago.

Mann reports that the Channel 5 newsroom is in an uproar over the VJ switch.

Mann quoted one longtime "Eyewitness News" staffer as saying the training for the switch hasn't gone well:
    "Even before they started, one of the VJs came back with a 'negative roll' tape (she thought the camera was on when it was off, and vice versa).

    "Another was caught using her husband to help her shoot in the field.

    "PIX's first reporter proponent of VJs now says it's a bad idea. The whole newsroom is in an uproar as reporters are rushed through VJ training, while editors and videographers are essentially ignored and left to worry about their jobs.

    "Management here wanted money from CBS to pay for a computer server for digital video but was turned down — a corporate vote of 'no confidence' that put it into a tailspin and has staffers speculating on how long the boss (Dan Rosenheim) will last.

    "Meantime, Rosenheim just hired a 28-year old female MMR (multi-media reporter) just as the age and sex-discrimination lawsuit by two veteran laid-off staffers (Bill Schechner and John Lobertini) goes up to federal court. It's a mess."
Rosenheim did not reply to an e-mail from the Press Club for comment.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

The ad/money issue won't just go away because reporters like how things used to be. New times require different skills. Don't they teach this stuff in journalism schools?

Anonymous said...

The VJ concept sounds all well and good to the bean counters, but in practice it's bad television.

The technology certainly makes it possible for a reporter to write their stories and edit their video and sound - radio reporters have been doing so for a long time - but a good videographer is worth their weight in gold for making the images look good.

Not to mention trying to stand in front of a camera against a backdrop and hope you have it right just before doing your liveshot or stand up.

KPIX may save a few bucks, but what comes out on the other end won't look as good as the competition and that will drive away audience.

Similar bean counting techniques have hurt the on air image, such as the Ignite studio automation system that has caused numerous on air glitches at area stations who've adopted it. (if you see a camera shot zoom off into the corner or a package that doesn't roll, you can be sure it was an IGNITEMARE!

Anonymous said...

I watched the 11 o'clock news on channel 5 last night just to see if anything was different---it wasn't. Maybe problems will show up when they roll this out to other nights of the week, but this could be the future of broadcast news.

Anonymous said...

Bill Mann...reporting from Port Townsend, Washington? Can he work a Canon HDV camcorder?

Anonymous said...

The VJs are on the 5:30 and 6:30 shows.