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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Video = Self-destruction of Photojournalism
Heather Hughes, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 8:43 PM on 08.24.07
->> I have been in this biz for almost 9 years and it is clearly changing. What direction we will take is still uncertain but the writing seems to be on the wall: to work at a newspaper you need to shoot video and create audio/video slideshows for the web.

I haven't been in the biz long enough to be old- fashioned but I feel that way. I came into this biz because I enjoy photographing everything. I enjoy covering high school football, festivals, hurricanes, 9/11, fires and the occassional artsy weather feature. But I'm hearing from everywhere (NPPA, Poynter, Tribune, these posts, my peers, etc.) that video is unavoidable and necessary. I disagree.

We have had video cameras in the hands of our photo staff for several years and I've managed to only use mine twice. I've created a few audio slideshows (sound and photos only) and I don't mind that as much but I still think it's more of a toy to play with, when you have the time, than the serious journalism we should be doing everyday.

I think we are getting distracted with Flash, Slides & Sounds, and the bells & whistles of the internet and it is getting in the way of capturing moments and doing our jobs as photojournalists. Not too long ago, newspaper photographers focused on getting a great photo, perfecting that craft, doing it day after day, and then they retired. The stories were told and people enjoyed seeing the great photographs (and still do).

I fear, yes, FEAR the day I lose my camera and am handed a video camera. It is happening in Texas, some of the photographers there are excited about it, I am not. I think video is intrusive, limited and doesn't have anything close to the power a still image has to tell the story and create change. Yes, I still subscribe to the thought that we can change the world with a photograph and I see it happen on a small scale in my communities all the time.

Think of every great photo you've seen, Pulitzer prize winner or not, the perfect moment was captured and composed so it told the story and affected the viewer emotionally. Video cannot do that. Even videographers have told me that. They recognize how much harder it is to get a single frame to tell the story (even when you can look at it on the back of your camera). You remember the single photos from 9/11, not the video. The images have the power to stop life and make you think and that's why I loved this job.

And then there's the little fact that we are not trained videographers!

We think in still images, not moving ones, and while you can learn to think in both and maybe even be pretty good at it you still can't do two jobs as well as one. You stand somewhere different for video than stills, you worry about sound, your subject worries about what they're saying, etc. There are different approaches and necessary pieces to tell the story for both mediums and if you're doing one you will most definately miss something for the other. I don't think we should be making that sacrifice.

So what is happening to our industry? Are we getting lazy and giving up on the hard job of capturing "the moment"? Are we being led blindly by greedy corporations to do something just to make a buck? Or are we just trying some new toy, like a new fisheye lens, and the fad will pass and we'll only use it when the situation warrants it?

Yes, there are some situations where video is useful to show something a still photograph cannot. And I think it's great that we now have the internet to share the good, unpublished photos or audio. But at my 100,000 circ. paper we are more interested in web hits than quality so everyone is posting whatever crap they can throw together quickly. And no matter how quickly it's done, we're wasting time that could've been used pursuing a story idea or working the extra 30min to get a better photo at the event.

If newspapers want video for their website they should hire someone or several people to do that job, because it is a seperate job. We can do both, we can also write stories and layout pages, but we shouldn't. We should be allowed to concentrate on the craft of photography.

Does anyone else think video should be left to videographers? Or am I and other old-fashioned newspaper photographers just being resistant to change and should leave the biz? Is there still be a place at newspapers for photographers to concentrate on getting great photos and nothing more?

Curious to hear if anyone else sees this so-called "trend" the way I do: as the self-destruction of photojournalism.
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Jim Colburn, Photographer
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 9:04 PM on 08.24.07
->> "We have had video cameras in the hands of our photo staff for several years and I've managed to only use mine twice."

Use them more.

"I fear, yes, FEAR the day I lose my camera and am handed a video camera."

That's funny. You sound like one of those "old farts" that protested when they were told to switch from 4x5 Speed Graphics to 2 1/4 or 35mm.

"We think in still images, not moving ones"

I "think" in both. I dream in stills AND in moving pictures. Sound too! I've even had dreams that end with rolling credits...

"at my 100,000 circ. paper we are more interested in web hits than quality"

It's up to you to provide the quality to go along with the web hits. Just as, in the past, people may have preferred one publication over another for the quality of it's pictures or writing that same situation will happen again. People will prefer a "quality" web site's stories over another's lesser pieces. Ad dollars will follow.

"Or am I and other old-fashioned newspaper photographers just being resistant to change"

Yup. Enjoy the 21st Century, it ain't going to be back dated.

You're sounding like someone that continues to listen to "Classic Rock" radio while attempting to avoid all the music made since 1990... And for a 2000 grad I think that's a shame.
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Chuck Steenburgh, Photographer
Lexington | VA | USA | Posted: 9:07 PM on 08.24.07
->> Heather,

I think you've hit the nail on the head, in a way; but in another way, maybe losing a bit of perspective.

Video, Internet, flash, multimedia, whatever demon you want to name...these are just technological steps in the evolution of story-telling. Cave painters cursed the guy who came up with hieroglyphics...Frederic Remington and other newspaper illustrators cursed the photojournalists....(some) PJs today curse video.

Yes, each step has made it "easier" to produce content; and thus made it easier to produce junk. But ultimately our consumers are discerning and quality and skill rise to the top.

Some PJs will adapt to the new technology and continue to employ their skills telling stories. Others will stick to the "old" technology. While their market might be smaller, there will still be room for the best storytellers.

Chuck
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Heather Hughes, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 9:13 PM on 08.24.07
->> Don't be bashing the classics, I love Queen! (and I like Nickelback too!)

But seriously, my point remains the same. You can do both but not well. People want good "quality" journalism, not video, from their newspapers. They watch video online to see something funny, not to get their news. Video is entertainment, not journalism.

Why is it that so many freelancers and students are so eager to do this video thing? Worried about getting a job?
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Heather Hughes, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 9:21 PM on 08.24.07
->> Thank you Chuck! Happy to hear someone else has hope for us old-fashioned photojs.

;)
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Bruce Ely, Photographer
Portland | OR | USA | Posted: 9:32 PM on 08.24.07
->> Jim,

You sound like management.

- bruce
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Jean Finley, Photo Editor, Photographer
Iowa City | IA | USA | Posted: 9:36 PM on 08.24.07
->> Aren't journalists supposed to be open-minded? forward-thinking? curious?
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Heather Hughes, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 9:47 PM on 08.24.07
->> Jean,

Yes. And objective, truthful, and accurate. But we also need to be skeptics and question any "fact" we are given. I question the "fact" that readers want video, which is the ONLY reason I have heard for doing it in the first place (besides money). The numbers support readers wanting photo galleries, but multimedia in any form is still lagging behind by the thousands.

You can be "open-minded, forward-thinking and curious" but still not want to do two jobs while being paid and trained to do one.

While there is still that pesky piece of paper to fill I think Chuck is right, that both styles of storytellers will continue to exsist at newspapers.
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Karl Stolleis, Photographer
Santa Fe | NM | USA | Posted: 9:53 PM on 08.24.07
->> Video is not the future, or our enemy - it is simply a tool to do what we already try to do each day - tell the story. Sometimes that will mean stills, sometimes still with sound and sometimes video.

Where most folks are losing perspective is that technology is not a solution in and of itself - it is a tool to implement a solution. You have to decide for yourself what that solution is.

Heather - I dont know if you are right or wrong but thank you for raising the question. I wish more would.
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Jean Finley, Photo Editor, Photographer
Iowa City | IA | USA | Posted: 9:56 PM on 08.24.07
->> I'm not sure I understand your argument.

Are you questioning the value of an alternate story-telling method? Or are you just objecting to the addition of video from a "two jobs" perspective?

A video camera is a tool. It is an inanimate object. It can't take away your creativity. It can't destroy you.
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Heather Hughes, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 10:51 PM on 08.24.07
->> Karl -

You're welcome. Asking questions is part of the job and it keeps us all on our toes. "Trust no one."

Jean -

You should re-read the whole post.

I am questioning the role or need for video at newspapers and having newspaper photographers do it, as well as it's effect on photojournalism as an industry. I am also against doing two jobs, but that is more of a side note. I am not questioning its value for storytelling, videographers have a job to do also, but I question its intent & value for the newspaper industry.

Video can't take away my creativity but it can get in the way. It can prevent me from getting "the shot" because I was getting sound or videotaping an interview.

The video camera can't destroy me, but I am concerned that it can destroy the industry I love. I see it happening now and I want to stop it. We should not "be like TV" because they don't have ethics like we do. But that is why newspapers are moving into video - to compete and be more like TV to get that audience. We need to be journalists and I see us moving away from that and becoming more like entertainment and that concerns me.

I'm seeing if others see this also and if anyone else thinks it will stop or continue until there are no still photographers at newspapers anymore and we are doing stand-ups with reporters at events (this has already started).
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Jim Colburn, Photographer
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 10:55 PM on 08.24.07
->> "You can do both but not well."

You can do both well, just not at the same time.

If you're willing to make the effort.
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Jim Colburn, Photographer
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 11:03 PM on 08.24.07
->> "You sound like management."

I sound like someone that really liked what happened when the Ramones and the Sex Pistols reared their ugly heads.

Do you want to see what's possible with new technology? Check out something by director Mike Figgis. Great stories, great acting, low cost film making. It's the very antithesis of crap like the last three Star Wars films, also done digitally...
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 11:15 PM on 08.24.07
->> A video camera is a tool.

The TOOL itself can't destroy your creativity. It's the fact that you are being FORCED to use a tool that is designed for a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MEDIUM. You take the paint brush from Monet and say, "Here, you now have to use this camera - and you better take a class in photoshop."

A still camera is a tool used to convey a creative moment in a very specific medium. A video camera is used in a different medium. They are not the same - they only share extremely basic elements, and they require different skills and aesthetics. Yep, you can grab a still frame from video. But it's just like taking a still photo, boogering it up in photoshop, printing it on canvas and calling it a painting. It's not the same. Still photos are an eyes-only, single image that a person explores for themselves. Video is an eyes and ears stream that the creator leads the viewer through in realtime. Equating the two is just silly.

Heather hit the nail right on the head when she talked about moment. In video, moment is a dull, ambiguous thing...nearly insignificant with the advent of 7-second record buffers. In still photography, moment is THE thing.

You DO get lazy about moment when it comes to video. It's taken care of...you don't have to worry about it nearly as much. It's a good thing, because there's all this other stuff you have to deal with. Wireless microphones, ambient noise, ND filter changes, blocking, shoot to edit, smooth camera moves, getting a good white balance, follow-focus, lens flare, moire, not getting clobbered on your blind side, making sure you're framing for both 16:9 and a 4:3 downconvert, taking care with motion if you're shooting 24p, compression settings, etc. In a lot of cases you don't even get to worry much about aperture and/or electronic shutter - constraints force you to accept defaults.

All of this doesn't make video a bad medium - great content comes from it. But it's far removed from the near Zen-like state you can get into in the relatively calm medium of still photography. The creation of the content is far different, and the interaction with the viewer is completely different.

Heather - I applaud your insight and recognition of the differences between these mediums, and how the differences are significant to you and your personal vision. I hope you find a place to call home that will allow you to work in your medium of choice.
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Jean Finley, Photo Editor, Photographer
Iowa City | IA | USA | Posted: 11:20 PM on 08.24.07
->> I'm exciting about working with/as video-journalists.

I don't think you'd "be like TV". You could be better, much better.

I'm not sure why the "audience" is such a dirty word. Why do you think they put photos in newspapers?

Heather - why do you think video and "quality journalism" are mutually exclusive? I'm not dogging you. I'm honestly trying to understand where you're coming from. I think there are others that agree with you and I'd like to be able to bridge this gap that exists in perception.
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 11:21 PM on 08.24.07
->> Do you want to see what's possible with new technology? Check out something by director Mike Figgis. Great stories, great acting, low cost film making. It's the very antithesis of crap like the last three Star Wars films, also done digitally...

And guess what Jim?
It's not still photography.

Also guess what?
It's been around for A LONG TIME. IT'S NOT NEW.

The only thing that's new here is print newsrooms trying to be TV without admitting they're trying to be TV, and converting still photographers in videographers without really admitting that this is what is going on.
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Heather Hughes, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 11:38 PM on 08.24.07
->> Jean -

I didn't use the audience as a dirty word, in fact I mentioned how much I value what the readers want. They want quality journalism. Read David's posts and you'll understand where we're coming from.

David-

You read my mind.

"The only thing that's new here is print newsrooms trying to be TV without admitting they're trying to be TV, and converting still photographers in videographers without really admitting that this is what is going on."

Right! I knew I wasn't the only one seeing this. But why are NPPA, Poynter, and others supporting this move? Why do so many professionals see what is happening and talk about it amongst themselves but do nothing? I know there have been a lot of layoffs and buyouts but are we really so worried about our job security that we're afraid to speak up?
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Jean Finley, Photo Editor, Photographer
Iowa City | IA | USA | Posted: 11:44 PM on 08.24.07
->> Heather - You said:

"Video is entertainment, not journalism."
"People want good "quality" journalism, not video, from their newspapers."


I'll try and state the question in a different way:

Why can't video which is simply a tool (like pencil or computer or still camera) be used to produce quality journalism?
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Colin Mulvany, Photographer
Spokane | WA | USA | Posted: 11:58 PM on 08.24.07
->> Heather, if you want to stay relevant in this industry, you must face your fears. I shot stills for 18 years before adding video storytelling to my visual toolbox. I have never looked back. The change happening now at newspapers is staggering. At my newspaper, our online site is updated throughout the day and is considered ďthe newspaper.Ē Those separation walls came down years ago. Video is spreading throughout our newsroom. Reporters, multimedia producers and photojournalists are all producing video content for the web. I still believe that photographers make the best video storytellers. Where reporters at my paper use small point and shoot cameras to capture video, the photojournalists use high quality cameras, mics and editing stations. This is happening at many papers and I am comfortable with this. As visuals become homogenized across the newsroom, photojournalists must set the video storytelling bar high to keep relevant.

What you have to understand Heather is local online news is becoming more important to both viewers and advertisers. Enhanced web-only digital content like video and audio slideshows is needed to grow viewership. Text and static photos on websites just doesnít cut it anymore. Learning multimedia will give you future job security and will open new avenues to tell engaging stories about your community.

No Fear.
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 12:01 AM on 08.25.07
->> Why can't video which is simply a tool (like pencil or computer or still camera) be used to produce quality journalism?

Video is not a tool, it's a medium. A video camera is a tool. I'm not picking on syntax here - it's a very important distinction.

Video, as a medium, can be used to convey content of a journalistic nature to a viewer. Still photos and text - as a medium - convey content in a completely different way. As such, it requires both a different set of tools AND a different mindset when creating the content. The audience is different, the interaction WITH that audience is different. Even if the TOPIC is the same, the perception of the message will invariably change.

With due credit to McLuhan, "The medium IS the message."

To un-Dennis Miller the above sentence:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Understanding_Media:_The_Extensions_of_Man

The original book is a very good read.
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Rodrigo Pena, Photographer
Palm Desert | CA | USA | Posted: 12:17 AM on 08.25.07
->> Heather, you're absolutely right, it is difficult to do more than one thing well at a time. In a perfect world, we would all shoot beautiful photos and photo essays, concentrate on the perfect moment and tell great stories that could possibly affect change.

Let's fast forward to reality. If you can find a home for your talents that aren't hampered by video or audio slideshows, more power to you, but just like LIFE magazine, that home might go away in time. I never understood why LIFE magazine went out of business. Such incredible images!!! Such talent!!! Images that affected change. Images that people remembered for generations. Why did they go away? I suspect that they went away because they could not adapt to the changing times. Time Inc. resurrected the magazine, but the March 2007 issue was the last one printed. It is now only available online.

Newspapers missed the call several years ago by charging for online services, classified ads, and places like MySpace, Craigslist, eBay, etc, brought in the cash. Now newspapers are analyzing what is working for other websites. They are trying to keep their ships afloat. They are trying to keep their jobs with the changing times. This is why you and I are given video cameras and audio recorders without any proper training. This is why we are asked to send in photos for online updates and then go back out and shoot some more.

Heather you're right about video and audio slideshows diluting the quality of your images, but if you don't climb aboard soon, the ship mail sail without you. This is the future of photojournalism whether we like it or not.

Check out The Digital Journalist for a great article on this topic.

http://digitaljournalist.org/issue0708/can-you-shoot-stills-and-video.html


For inspiration, look at the work of Brian Storm who uses stills in his video to make impact.

http://mediastorm.org/


If you want to be truly inspired by video that could affect change, check out the "Crisis in Darfur Expands" by Travis Fox. Here's the link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/interactives/chad/

It's going to take me a very long time for me to reach this level, (If I ever reach this level) but the sooner I start, the better off I'll be. Just my 2 cents.
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Heather Hughes, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 12:59 AM on 08.25.07
->> Rodrigo:

To borrow another quote from David:

"All of this doesn't make video a bad medium - great content comes from it. But it's far removed from the near Zen-like state you can get into in the relatively calm medium of still photography. The creation of the content is far different, and the interaction with the viewer is completely different."

There is good video work out there, by photojournalists, and I know it is just a matter of time before students are graduating with these skills (we already see it). But it is a totally different skill set and I question why our peers are not recognizing this.

It is a reality that newspapers are embracing video because they think it will help them make money in tough times. I challenge that the "tough times" are not as tough as they make it out to be and that video and changing our priorities to quick online updates is NOT the answer - it is making it worse. More work equals less time for each story which means less depth and coverage which is the reason why people read the paper in the first place (despite TV having the same story). I think we are hurting ourselves and driving away our readers, not drawing them in through a different medium. You can have all the great multimedia you want but if the important stories aren't there then no one will be looking.

I value that Zen-like state where I can capture what I see, I crave it, and I do not want to give it up. Maybe it is evolution, but not all evolution is good.

I posed this question because I am considering leaving the biz because of this new direction we are taking. That saddens me because I am a curious person and I want to tell stories about my community and cover the high school sports, but with photographs. I am a photojournalist, not a videographer. There is a difference, even though management is not recognizing it, and you can work towards learning this new medium and I applaud those of you that do it successfully (I work with a couple guys who do). But even they miss the days when we were "just photographers" and had that "cool job where you just go out and take pictures."

David - Thank you for helping me articulate the situation. Do you know anywhere I can work that will let me remain a photojournalist?
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Kevin Seale, Photographer
Crawfordsville | IN | United States | Posted: 1:05 AM on 08.25.07
->> My $0.02 is that the camera phone is more of a threat to the traditional PJ than adding a video camera to their tool box. Where do you think things will be in 10 years when everyone is running around with 8MP+ camera phones that can also shoot video?

Looking at it another way, how many people 10 years ago would have laughed if told the video clip getting the most play on CNN during the Virginia Tech tragedy would be shot from a cellphone? Just think what will happen when they have a decent camera in the phone.

Heather, I appreciate your dedication to the significance of a single frame telling a story. It is the same drive that makes me love photography. However, I feel we now live in a Jerry Springer world and the public, aka paying customers, would much rather watch a grainy, underexposed video of a tanker truck exploding shot by a person running with a cellphone than a perfect image of the smoldering truck shot by a staff PJ once they get there 20 minutes later.

Making the situation even worse, the out of breath phone owner will probably end up GIVING away the clip and the PJ can watch it on their iPhone on the way to the scene.

Personally, I remember the video of the second jet flying clear through the WTC much more than any still image I saw. Many stills were moving images, but that video made my jaw drop and left me without words. We also have not been watching the Zapruder stills for the past 40+ years, unless you count frame 243 as a still image.

Video news is here to stay. Customers expect it. The destruction is not of photojournalism it is of the traditional staff photojournalist who only works with a still camera. Embrace change, support your employers direction, work hard and hope for the best or get out while it is still your choice to do so. There are still lots of people needing wedding photographers.

Oh wait, they also want a video.
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Kirk Mastin, Photographer
Coeur D'Alene | ID | USA | Posted: 1:07 AM on 08.25.07
->> I think the real issue is how 'big media' will survive at all with millions of citizen journalists and bloggers.

Even if 1% of the citizen journalists create quality work, it will put the hurt on 'big media' who still want to charge people to view things ONLINE when you can get it for free.

Video is being embraced as a way to patch up a sinking ship.

Much bigger, fundamental changes will be needed to make 'big media' relevant in the near future. For example, when the Seattle P-I refused to print the photos of ferry boat terror-plot suspects in thier paper, people started commenting that the paper was behind the times because the photos were available all over the web with much more in-depth coverage than the paper could provide.

There is a blog for everything these days... any topic or news item under the sun... often with much more informed commentary and analysis than any paper could hope to accomplish with limited resources.

I am doubtful that 'big media' can compete in the long run. In fact, 'big media' is being increasingly scrutinized for it's mistakes and bad reporting. It's all about being relevant with a media/tech savy audience that is much smarter than we assume.

Think about it.

Kirk

ps. if you are wondering: 'big media' equals newspapers and traditional TV news.
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David A. Cantor, Photo Editor, Photographer
Toledo | OH | USA | Posted: 1:28 AM on 08.25.07
->> Here ya go, Jim.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LB6Q_oycfQ


(You just knew someone was gonna do this......)
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Corey Perrine, Photographer
Hudson | NH | USA | Posted: 1:41 AM on 08.25.07
->> Heather,
Watch these first before reading my post...please...

Look what Kevin German did...

http://www.sacbee.com/static/newsroom/swf/may07/boardwalk/

Look what Rick Gershon did...

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/VideoPlayer/videoPlayer.php?vidId=1...

Look what John Lehmann and Co. did...

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/generated/realtime/conjoinedTwins.html

Look what Richard Koci Hernandez did...

http://www.mercurynewsphoto.com/season/seasons.html

Look what Preston Keres did...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2007/01/09/VI20070109007...

Look what the Viscom students at Ohio University did...

http://soulofathens.com

While I share your frustration with the new multimedia movement, I have to commend those who have the audacity to push us further and differently into a new powerful story-telling age. Nowadays with a story, when you can see it's potential, breathe it, internalize it, feel it, and then release it through multiple platforms, you become a more powerful, or as some see it, a different kind of story-telling instrument. Different is okay, it actually is quite beautiful. The people in the examples above, know more than just stills, they also know video, audio, and some of them know multimedia. They have the ability and edge over others to speak a message with more layers and do it EXTREMELY well. It's a frustrating, growing and learning process for those who it has been thrust upon. That's why, to put it bluntly, it sucks for you and a whole slew of mediocre still-turned-video shooters overnight, of which I am part of the ranks. We want to get to this level (examples above), just some take longer to marinate, learn, absorb and grow.

I share the same love of stills as you do. As I have told my co-workers, I too am still a believer of the power of the still frame. Personally I feel a good still triumphs over other mediums any day. However, I know that video and audio have a place too. Sometimes, the mediums battle for center-stage but if used together properly it can produce a new voice, one that was never possible 'til a few years ago. Personally, I want to capture the best still frames, and if in the future, my paint brush is different, so be it. The most important thing we have as journalists is our personal vision.

Some will never learn this new art form, medium. Some will never "fall in love" as they did with their still cameras. I know, I'm still trying to create this love affair with a fiery red-haired woman and a temper called video. It's like learning the bass clef after mastering the treble clef. It's a slow process, but as matchmakers match couples in some cultures, I too have been matched with video. I will grow in love with her. I still have yet to become the visual journalist of who I want to be, I am a work in progress.

In the end when I look back, when my eyes are failing and my joints barely allow me to look through whatever viewfinder, I know through the struggles, the triumphs, the trying times, the decisive moments, the lives changed, it was all well worth it.
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Mark Loundy, Photo Editor
San Jose | CA | USA | Posted: 2:36 AM on 08.25.07
->> David,

It's great for fine artists to limit themeslves to a single medium. Daily journalists do not have that luxury. Our messages need to be delivered via the most effective vehicle to meet the needs of our readers -- not to massage our personal artistic egos.

I am not going to take the time to enumerate the many ways that a "moment" can be captured and communicated with video equipment just as effectively as it can with still equipment.

Heather,

You've got to stop thinking of the place you work as a "newspaper." Newspapers are dead and the companies that own them will follow them down the drain if they don't seperate the content from the medium.

--Mark
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 3:17 AM on 08.25.07
->> Our messages need to be delivered via the most effective vehicle to meet the needs of our readers -- not to massage our personal artistic egos.

If the goal is to deliver a "message" via the most effective vehicle (aka medium), the most effective person for delivering TO that medium is a person specifically trained in the medium...not someone who was basically told "learn this or lose your job."



> I am not going to take the time to enumerate the many ways that a "moment" can be captured and communicated with video equipment just as effectively as it can with still equipment.

There is no question that moments can be captured with video. I never said that they couldn't. But as I said/quoted above, the medium is the message. The decisive moment of an NCAA basketball game captured in video and stills will have two completely different meanings. The "convergence" crowd believes you can take a still from the video feed of that moment and it will have the same impact as a still image photographed by a still shooter.

It won't. That is what is being lost.

> Newspapers are dead and the companies that own them will follow them down the drain if they don't seperate the content from the medium.

The medium and content are inseparable. If newspapers need to stop publishing print and start "publishing" video, they need to stop acting like they aren't TV. It will save a lot of time and money, and make them competitive much faster.
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Darren England, Photographer
Brisbane | QLD | Australia | Posted: 3:40 AM on 08.25.07
->> Will newspaper websites be making enough money to employ teams of photographers/reporters?.

Does anyone know what sort of profits the big US and UK newspapers are making from their websites compared to their newspapers?
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Kirk Mastin, Photographer
Coeur D'Alene | ID | USA | Posted: 5:54 AM on 08.25.07
->> I looked at those clips and they are great, and show a lot of effort....don't get me wrong. However I don't think they really connect to your average viewer. I don't see art-house type short films bringing in lots of viewers. I know I will be hated for saying that but it's the truth.

I think for the most part we are missing our target audience. It will be very difficult to get our target audience and until we do, the whole thing will keep sinking. People are watching stuff like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWow42TCwzg

Over 5 million views people.

or this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49IDp76kjPw

16 MILLION views.

Am I making any sense?

I know, I know, it's crap, it's declasse, whatever. But it is the competition.

In the end it's about advertising revenue. It's about number of WEB impressions. What makes people watch. What is going to be viral.

Some news items even make this list. But we HAVE to cater to our audience and so far very few multimedia pieces do that. You know I'm right. I'm ready for the hate mail. But let's address this, because in the end it's not about US, it's about a very fickle audience that we have to create STORIES for that people will WANT to see. You can wish all day long that people appreciate your ART, but in the end the audience wants to be fascinated and enetertained on thier own level.


Am I making any sense?

I don't expect many people to respond to me, because we are so trapped in our own world, oblivious essentially to what the market wants.

My narrow opinion as always,
Kirk
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Kirk Mastin, Photographer
Coeur D'Alene | ID | USA | Posted: 6:01 AM on 08.25.07
->> I want to express again my appreciation to those that are trying new things and pushing the envelope, but in the end it's about revenue... and we have to connect to the masses, not just the intellectual elite or fellow photojournalists. We have to be a bit of what we hate: the Sensational. The Tabloid. The Britney Spears BS news 'story'. We live in real and crude times.

I would like to see the actual web site hit counters for each multimedia piece that is published and see in a purely black and white business standpoint, where these new forms of storytelling are bringing in viewers and therefore ad revenue. Because in the end that is what is deciding our fate whether we like it or not. Whether it is art or not. Whether it changes the world or not. Whether it is REAL news or not.

Sorry to be a wet blanket, but I would like some kind of intelligent response to this.

Kirk
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Kirk Mastin, Photographer
Coeur D'Alene | ID | USA | Posted: 6:11 AM on 08.25.07
->> One last thing:

I find it is way too complicated to get to multimedia content for most users. Even when I am purposely looking for multimedia content I have trouble finding it. This model will not work.

Most newspaper websites are impossible to navigate with way too many options, sections and buttons. I think that is why many narrow, 'issue focused' blogs are succesful in getting hundreds of thousands of viewers a day. They are focused and easy to navigate.

Do newspapers ever hire someone to figure out efficient web designs with efficient navigation? Many private companies do so. To not do so is suicide in my opinion. People get frustrated with websites after 5 seconds or so if it is difficult to navigate or find what you are looking for.

For example, it took me almost ten minutes to find a page called 'The Sporting Life' on the Roanoke Ttimes web page to see something that Josh Meltzer had done about the Virginia Rowing Team, that I had read about in PDN. I had to search for it specifically because it was so impossible to find. This is unnacceptable in my opinion.
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Heather Hughes, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 9:29 AM on 08.25.07
->> Thank you everyone for speaking to this issue.

I am seeing a lot of common threads: newspapers need to change, our readers or audience want video, you can no longer have the luxury of only photographing a subject if you work at a newspaper (even if you don't have the training, natural skill or desire). This is why I wanted to bring up the subject. Too many stories about how newspapers need to change with the times, video is the only future, says who?

I have seen great work done by lots of newspapers, under 100 hits. But we videotape them frying an egg on the Monitor at the local museum, thousands of hits. But still no where near the millions of hits the utube nonsense gets. Our readers, our audience has told us in feedback, on assignment and in surveys that they want quality journalism from their newspaper. The medium may not matter, but the problem is that in our rush to change and save the "sinking ship" that isn't really sinking is not leaving us the time to do quality journalism. We are overtasking everyone in the newsroom, asking reporters to take photos, video, do blogs, daily online posting, asking the photographers to do photo, video, slideshows, multimedia, etc. True journalism takes time, good journalism takes time, and that is why this multi-tasking is hurting our industry.

Newspapers are businesses, as we are reminded before every layoff or buyout, and they want to make money. But we are journalists and our primary concern should be telling the stories that need to be told, not just the ones the readers want. The two responsibilities have co-exsisted for decades, but we seem to have more trouble balancing the two in our "desperate times" and need to transition to the internet.

We have lost about 30,000 readers at my paper over the last 5 years, and lose about 3,000 more every quarter. We have had layoffs/buyouts four of those years to "keep us afloat" despite making 26% profit or more (Bill Gates is happy with 5% but not newspapers). Money from the internet doesn't come close to the money lost by subscribers and advertisers in the print version, those are facts. People want news, news they can use, stories about their communities, the same thing they wanted 10 years ago (yes, even the new readers).

Maybe the medium is changing but being told to "learn a new medium or lose your job" is the wrong way to do things. Hire videographers, hire multimedia experts, and if there are a couple people on staff that have the skills and want to improve, support them. This is not about ego, it's about journalism. There is still a paper, but if you don't have quality work to put in it what makes you think you can draw people to the website to look at the outtakes?

Newspapers are not dead, but we are trying to kill them.
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Robin Loznak, Photo Editor, Photographer
Great Falls | MT | USA | Posted: 10:03 AM on 08.25.07
->> Our click through photo galleries get huge web traffic at greatfallstribune.com. So far in Aug., we have over 400,000 hits on the galleries alone. Photo galleries are by far the most looked at part of the website. Our video productions, on the other hand, get very little traffic. A typical video, which takes 4-8 hours to produce, gets a couple hundred viewers. A web gallery can get 15,000 or more hits in a day.
I think one of the biggest problems is that watching news video on the web is difficult and painful. Have you ever tried to watch and judge the videos for the NPPA multimedia contest. My eyes start to cross ofter about five minutes.
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Jack Howard, Photographer, Photo Editor
Somerville | NJ | USA | Posted: 10:11 AM on 08.25.07
->> Maybe I've got a lot of raw emotions right now, after having to evacuate a building from the 43rd floor last week during a fire in my skyscraper and it brought back a lot of memories and emotions, but I find the wording of this statement to be insensitive, irresponsible, immature, and detrimental to the photojournalism community at large:

"I enjoy covering high school football, festivals, hurricanes, 9/11, fires and the occassional artsy weather feature."

Nothing like a good tragedy on a small or major scale to get the blood pumping and adrenaline going--nothing like massive human suffering to make good photos, huh? It's all just portfolio fodder, huh?

Maybe that's not what you meant, but choose your wording carefully! This is a very flippant statement, and stating you "enjoy" photographing massive human tragedy reinforces a very public perception that the media is really a bunch of soulless, bloodsucking reptiles that feed upon the misery of this world for nothing more than personal satisfaction, shock value, and profits.

Ask the Louisiana-based photographers if they enjoyed covering Katrina...Talk to some metro NY area photographers about what it was like on 9/11 and the days after...talk to the mother who lost her child in a house fire before making statements that compare human tragedy to a football game or a rainbow fill-in photo.

This is a publicly viewable board, and this statement, regardless of intent or casualness of feeling you're talking in a closed room of peers, is very irresponsible and I strongly encourage you to choose your wording more carefully in the future. Unless you really feel like this, and in which case, I don't know what to say.
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Rob Ostermaier, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 10:29 AM on 08.25.07
->> Robin,

You are excatly right. That has been my point all along. Our still galleries draw gigantic numbers. A video that took a total of four hours to collect the content, drive back, edit, produce and upload to the web gets 150-200 hits if you're very lucky.

"Video is the future" is what the beancounters at are telling us but the numbers they post on the bulletin board every week are not bearing that out. I've worked my ass off on a couple of beautiful multimedia project only to see them fail on the site. PEOPLE ONLY LOOK AT CRAZY UTUBE VIDEOS! If it's a fat kid with a lightsaber they can't get enough of it!

Kirk is also right when he talks about the threat posed by "iReporters" and other reader content. In the end free content will put us all out of business.
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Chris Pietsch, Photographer
Eugene | OR | USA | Posted: 11:34 AM on 08.25.07
->> Heather,

I admire you for stating out load what many others are thinking. I also admire the still photographers, many who have posted or whose work has been mentioned here, who have enthusiastically embraced video and other story telling technology.

There is no doubt the industry is in transition. Our bosses are panicking. We are all being asked to row a little harder and bail a little faster to keep the boat afloat. I also worry that in the scramble to save ourselves we will abandon some of of our core values. The wonderfully crafted still image among them.

Will video save us? Larger forces are a work I think. We all, video and still photographer alike, may end up over the falls, no matter how hard we row. You face a question that only you can answer, "Is this something I want to do?"

For my part, I am giving it a shot.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 11:59 AM on 08.25.07
->> the angst of the threads is getting to be overwhelming. everyone is right in one way or another. at our office we were all laughing yesterday because one of my videos and another staffers were battling it out for hits. I was in the lead with TEN!! he had EIGHT! that was after a couple of days, yikes. one of the most telling statements of this thread is rob's. upper management is the driving force of the video. most often they have no idea of the inherent problems and cost of producing even a short clip. that said something that is happening at our paper is we have embraced doing what they ask the best we can with the tools we have. consequently the better the things look the more resources we are getting (better editing programs, new cameras, tripods...etc) the biggest change of all is our photo editors DO know what kind of time it takes to produce a decent project. are all of the things we do great? even good? no. we stumble just like everyone else. but the fact is if you want to stay in photojournalism and you're in a medium to large market you're going to have to deal with the changes. sadly some won't....but who knows, maybe this will be just another passing fad. as robin stated photo galleries get massive hits compared to newspaper produced videos....same at our paper. we're all just going to have to weather the storm. times are always changing, it's the nature of the business. these threads remind me a little bit of the changing from film to digital. I remember in 1997 people ranting how "I'll never shoot digital!" and ten years later..............
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David Harpe, Photographer
Louisville | KY | USA | Posted: 12:21 PM on 08.25.07
->> In the end free content will put us all out of business.

Exactly. Which is why newspapers have screwed themselves by giving away content they pay to produce. "Operate at a loss, make it up in volume" as the old business school joke goes.

Youtube is a billion dollar company because they pay ZERO for their content. If they had to pay a dime each time a video was shown, they'd be out of business in a week. They make money because the content costs nothing to deliver except infrastructure costs, and infrastructure is relatively cheap. They even make millions off of copyrighted works - TV shows and the like. Sure they take them down when someone complains. But by the time it's "reported" and taken down, they've made tens of thousands of dollars. Everytime they do the whack-a-mole game, they make tens of thousands of dollars. You don't see that money going to the copyright holder. It's brilliant.

Google is exactly the same way. Google doesn't generate content, they aggregate it. If they paid a dime for every page indexed, they'd be out of business.

Newspapers with visions of riches on the Internet need to keep that in mind. Their idols don't pay for content - they parasite off of the masses and other copyright holders. Completely different business.
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Heather Hughes, Photographer
Newport News | VA | USA | Posted: 12:22 PM on 08.25.07
->> Jack-

Have a drink. You misunderstood me completely. I covered 9/11 in Arlington, the D.C. sniper, death and destruction, I have seen terrible things. I do not like to see terrible things but we cover them because the stories have to be told, that is how change happens.

But that is not the point of this post.

Chris hit it right on the head: "Is this something I want to do?" But also, is this something we should be doing? Are we willing to abandon some core values to make this transition to save the sinking ship (which I still argue is not really sinking). Will there be any papers that won't require their photogs to shoot video? This is not the same as changing to digital, I did that, this is a different medium and the change is much greater. Some will embrace it, but I'm seeing a lot leave because of it.
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Sam Morris, Photographer
Henderson (Las Vegas) | NV | USA | Posted: 12:24 PM on 08.25.07
->> OW! Damn! What was that? Oh, a piece of the sky just hit me on the head.

I will not parrot what some of the others have said, but I will add that video may not be THE future, but it is certainly part of it.

There are still plenty of outlets for "pure" still photojournalism, but you might have to get a second job.

Now to find out who checked out our new Sony HD camera...
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 12:32 PM on 08.25.07
->> "Some will embrace it, but I'm seeing a lot leave because of it."
unfortunately this is true. but the fact is there is plenty of photographic fodder (fodder=inferior or readily available material used to supply a heavy demand) out there drooling over the chance to snatch those jobs. but sam's right, the sky isn't falling. and I really don't think you'll see a paper which is embracing video give any of their photographers a pass. that's not fair, it's the old "one for all and all for one" deal.
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Jeremy Harmon, Photo Editor, Photographer
Salt Lake City | UT | USA | Posted: 12:47 PM on 08.25.07
->> At my paper, we do a daily news show. In order for it to work, everybody in the newsroom participates. Reporters actually shoot more video than the photo staff does, because there are more reporters than photographers. There was a lot of grumbling at first, but now it's so much a part of what we do we don't really even notice it anymore. The show gets better and better all the time.

Web hits are up considerably because of it. We have somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 new unique viewers because of it. That's not hits, that's unique viewers. At a 30,000 daily, 10,000 new readers online is huge.

We plug the print product in each broadcast and circulation numbers are up this year over where they were last year.
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Matthew Hinton, Photographer, Assistant
New Orleans | LA | USA | Posted: 1:32 PM on 08.25.07
->> Page hits are irrelevant for video.

In fact if you have only a few hundred page hits for a video it may mean there is an error or people can't get your video to load.

To see if people are actually watching video you need software more advanced than a simple page counter. You need metrics software. Many papers use software called SiteCatalyst as metrics software and any photographer shooting video needs to have access to the data.

These metrics can show how much time a person stays on a particular page. If your video is 2 or 4 minutes long, you need to see the metrics data that shows that you have 150 or 300 people staying on the page for 2 or 4 minutes.

In many cases you might find that the 150-300 page hits disappear within 10 to 30 seconds. So you may have a few hundred page hits but NOBODY IS WATCHING. The reason for a drop in the first 30 seconds is mostly because of computer errors:
1) The reader doesnít have the right software plug-in to even see the video. If you are going to have video you need to have prominent instructions on the web page so readers can download the proper software to view your particular video.
2) The browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.) is incompatible with your companyís proprietary web site software. Adding a video or flash plug-in may work for Safari and it may even work inside your companyís building where there are no firewalls to your website. But outside your office and on Internet Explorer 7 or IE 6 the video may not load. A photographer at the DMN admitted that it took almost a year for the photographers to view the videos on their own laptops. There was an issue with the software. There are many sites I click on now that I know canít not load a video with IE 7 or IE 6 and only work with Safari or Firefox. The problem is Safari is only 1-4% of all browsers Firefox is only around 15%. The majority of the audience, over 80% and all web browsers are IE 7 or IE 6 on Windows XP machines. So you may make your video on an Apple with Final Cut Pro and use Appleís Safari as web browser. But that doesnít mean the majority of your audience can see the same video.
3) The video takes too long to load and the viewer goes to another page out of boredom. This can happen because of having a poor connection to your site and maybe your paperís internet provider or own servers canít handle the added bandwidth of downloading video. Also is broadband readily available in your area? If not, you may not have a lot of web traffic to your videos.

So stop using the term page hits or web hits and find out HOW LONG people are viewing a particular video or soundslides page. Then try and find out why people are leaving with in the first few seconds or minute after clicking on the webpage.

If people arenít staying on the page for the full length of the video you might make the case that you shouldnít be wasting your time with video until these issues are resolved.

If everything is working and you are still getting a few hits. The problem maybe that the video isnít placed prominently or advertized on the webpage well enough. People wonít click on a video if a breaking news alert knocks the video link off the front page of the website and into weblink obscurity.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
If a photographer makes a video and nobody can load it, does it make a sound?

Itís very important that make sure people can see your videos, otherwise the only people you are impressing with the video are your bosses. You arenít servicing readers or viewers in fact you are taking away valuable time from the print product as Heather Hughes has pointed out.

A word of caution: many papers are departmentalized and getting a video to load quickly and properly can cross a lot of departmental lines. You may need to follow the proper channels to get your voice heard. You may have to deal with the marketing or web or IT department to get access to metrics so be sure you ask your editorial supervisors that itís okay to ask marketing about the metrics or have them ask for you.
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Jim Colburn, Photographer
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 2:16 PM on 08.25.07
->> "It's not still photography."

You mean that you don't accept visual insiration from any medium other than still photography?

It's story telling. You really have to try and expand tour horizons.
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Jim Colburn, Photographer
Omaha | NE | USA | Posted: 2:22 PM on 08.25.07
->> "Here ya go, Jim.....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6LB6Q_oycfQ"

The first video played on MTV...

And, by the way, "The Buggles" was actually producer Trevor Horn, later famous for, amoungst other things, Frankie Goes To Hollywood...

(How's THAT for obscure?)

And make that "your horizons"...
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Dave Yoder, Photographer
Milan | IT | Italy | Posted: 6:37 PM on 08.25.07
->> Heather: Do what you want to do. There will always be a demand for still photography. Most of these folks saying resistance is futile are really just giving up on and transitioning out of photojournalism, but are not inclined to say so.

Mr. Loundy: Why is it the video evangelists like yourself can't help but to mock people who love still photography? What does that have to do with egos? Seems to me people like yourself are having the ego crises when we don't drop our still cameras simply because you say we should.

Also, your first paragraph is rather fatuous:

"It's great for fine artists to limit themeslves to a single medium. Daily journalists do not have that luxury. Our messages need to be delivered via the most effective vehicle to meet the needs of our readers -- not to massage our personal artistic egos. "

The vast majority of "daily journalists" do in fact limit themselves to one medium, and not out of a taste for luxury or high art--they do it out of necessity.
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Jeff Stanton, Photographer
Tucson | Az | USA | Posted: 6:52 PM on 08.25.07
->> I think Mark Loundy's widsom has shined through again. Readers, or viewers, whatever you want to call them, want the news in the quickest way possible that demonstrates the point of the issue.

I know the feeling about using video over stills. The change is scary. People are scared of things they don't know about, like shooting video. You're going to have to share the romance between your still camera and video camera.

A lot of times, I go to a project and shoot both, then mix my stills into the video process. They do it on TV all the time. You can do it too!

For me, the possibilities are very stimulating. I find myself thinking in both mediums and often I know for a fact a video would illustrate a story better than stills.

My advice is to keep an open mind. Fighting this change could leave you unemployed.
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Bill Miller, Photographer
Thousand Palms | CA | USA | Posted: 7:08 PM on 08.25.07
->> From an outsider - one who does not shoot for a newspaper, a couple of thoughts.

Video is just another gimick print media seems to be trying. If the viewer/reader is looking for video content are they going to the web? Doubtful, they probably would go to CNN, MSNBC, ABC, FOX or any number of television outlets. Is the video being produced by newspaper organizations the quality seen in the Television media, doubtful.

Could this slideshow have been produced with the same impact if it had been video? You be the judge.
http://www.sacbee.com/static/newsroom/swf/april07/mother/

It would seem your real concern should be "ireporters"
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Damon Moritz, Photographer, Photo Editor
Woodbridge | Va. | USA | Posted: 7:13 PM on 08.25.07
->> My still camera shoots at 30 fps.

Frame grabs are what its all about. You'd be surprised how much of what is on the wire services comes from HDV frame grabs.

Want a vertical, turn the camera sideways. Even if you keep the shot as video it can be reformatted in the NLE (non-lenear editor) to run as a vert video over a background or next to another piece of vert video.

Think it isn't as creative? Think again. You can do much of what an SLR can do in video, you just have to know the tool.
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