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Monday, July 23, 2012

Early foray into video journalism

Shortly before I left the Democrat & Chronicle in 2006, the buzz in the newspaper business was all about “backpack journalists.” The idea was that these journalists would have all the necessary reporting tools in a backpack in order to cover a story, photograph it, take video of it, write about it, edit it and upload an entire package to the web from the field.
Of course, now that seems like a no-brainer with the growth in technology and the seemingly endless stream of videos and photos posted to Facebook and Twitter nearly automatically through smart phones. But at the time, it was new and exciting territory.
To me, after I left Rochester to buy the Kuna Melba News, it struck me as an incredibly democratizing notion. The idea for a big paper like the Democrat & Chronicle was to send out one reporter to a fire or car accident or press conference, photograph it, take video and upload it to the web remotely.
If a big paper could send out one person to do all that, why couldn’t a small paper like the Kuna Melba News do the same thing, I thought. Going even further, you could see the TV stations simply posting all of their video news segments online and selling ads around them. Here was newspapers’ great opportunity to do the exact same thing.
Then, and still today, I believed that this was where newspapers’ future lay, in online video news reports.
With that in mind, I went out and bought the Flip video camera, at the time quite a revolutionary video recorder but which seems rather quaint by today’s standards.
My first foray into video recording, naturally, was sports, and I started with the football season in 2008. I was able to put the little video camera in my front shirt pocket and take it out whenever I felt there would be a good play to video. I would simply pull the camera out and hold it on top of my photo camera, which was balanced on a monopod. That way, I could actually take video and photos at the same time.
My little setup caught the attention of the players on the Kuna team. During one game, I was standing right next to a few of the players on the sideline when I took my Flip camera out and started videotaping a play. One of the players asked me, “Hey, what is that?” I told him it was a video camera. “No way. Really?”
He called over a couple of other players to check out "this cool camera this guy’s got."
I figured if I could impress high school kids, I was pretty technologically advanced.

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