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Citizen Journalism 101: Capturing Award-Winning Video

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First-place best news video, Iowa Newspaper Association (2011)

      In the 21st-century newsroom, one of the most important skills any journalist can exhibit is the ability to shoot and edit one’s own video reports. Even the “old dogs” are being forced to learn this “new trick,” with mixed results.

      We’re going to pretend you already have equipment and video-editing software that will work for the job. So, let’s look at the basics: what goes into a good video news report.

Third-place best news video, Iowa Newspaper Association (2010)

The Story

      Like any good news article, you need a story to tell. In fact, you would likely construct your video news report in the same general format as if you were writing the story. The easiest way to do that is to record your interview.

      One important tip, particularly for those who give their subjects verbal cues in the middle of interviews: keep your mouth shut. This can be a difficult habit to break; one way to do that would be to switch from verbal to non-verbal cues, such as simple head nods.

Second-place best news video, Iowa Newspaper Association (2010)

Eye-Catching ‘B’ Roll

      The “B” roll is the extra footage that videographers use to help visualize the story, and it usually runs with narration from the subject or the reporter. When shooting video for a web-based format, there usually isn’t going to be a “reporter” to narrate, but using the audio from your interview is helpful.

      If you can capture video of the key elements the subject is talking about, particularly video that demonstrates exactly what the subject is talking about, you have perfect “B” roll material. In some cases, especially when reporting on an event, almost any extra footage will work for your “B” roll.

First-place best news video, Iowa Newspaper Association (2010)

Narrow Topic

       The traditional news video is never less than 90 seconds, nor more than three minutes, in length. So, you need to keep the interview sharply focused; this is best done by asking questions that allow for more than simple “yes” or “no” answers, but do not lend themselves to producing soliloquies from your subjects.

      If possible, you will want to use some “ambient audio” — sound that was recorded along with the “B” roll video — in the course of the report, so you want to keep the subject’s talking time limited to less than two minutes. This is always easier said than done, and really only becomes a finely honed skill with lots and lots of practice.

Fully Informative

      Remember that the source may not always provide the information that is most useful to your audience. Sometimes, it is up to you, as the reporter, to give the audience what it needs. This can be done through the use of information graphics.

      You can build information graphics using photo-editing or pagination software. Most video editing programs allow you to upload JPEG files as still images for your videos. This can be useful if the audience needs to see key information in a visual format during the report.

      One of the biggest offenses I see in news video is when someone is talking and the audience has no clue who that person is. News banners that give that information are very easy to add to your video reports, even with the cheapest video editing software on the market.

      Keeping these key tips in mind as you produce your news video will go a long way. And, it will make you a well-rounded 21st-century journalist.

      Next week, we will delve into the nuts and bolts of libel law.

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Written by bfranklinjournalism

April 27, 2011 at 4:37 am