The main advantages of video journalism

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video journalist outside number 10 Downing Street

 
 
If you have worked as a video journalist it is almost inevitable that you will face a certain amount of criticism.   The question often arises, "isn't it always better to send a reporter and a camera operator instead of a vj?". 
 
I am not so dogmatic that I believe conventional working has no place and video journalism is always best, but I do think it is highly under-rated. 
 
Here are some of the reasons I think video journalism can be the best way to tell a story:
 
*Access - It is less intimidating for an interviewee to deal with a single person holding a smaller camera. If you have been for a job interview with three or four people behind the table, you know how the power dynamic means that you can feel quite intimidated.  In TV terms, a team of people with lights etc can get beautiful pictures, but the subject is less at ease and may not provide the best possible interview.  Content is the number one "quality" issue in a video piece. 
 
* Creativity - If you are editing the material, you can try different treatments. If you are shooting for someone else to edit you really need to stick to a formula,. This is especially true if they are expected to cut it under pressure after seeing the footage for the first time. Working alone you can plan a less conventional treatment in your head, and realise it in the edit. It needs no explanation.
 
*Mobility - When filming an observational documentary or following a single person for a news story, you have the flexibility to jump into the last remaining seat in the taxi. You have lightweight kit so hopping on and off an underground train is not a big deal. I have shot with full-sized cameras and it does restrict your movement. For starters it is hard to look to your right. The kit is also very heavy. This restricts your mobility. 
 
 
* Making editorial decisions - When a journalist is filming a story unfold before their eyes, they can make a split-second news judgement. Video works in pictures. Pictures are not separate from the journalism. They are the vital ingredient in telling the story. If you are not holding the camera, you cannot make split second decisions about what to film and how it is framed. These impact the story, so are powerful tools in the hands of the storyteller. 
 
Conventional working also has its strengths and weaknesses. As I said, being passionate about video journalism does not mean pretending it does not also have some weaknesses.  I just thought I would list a few positives, because they are too often forgotten while people argue over data rates and whether a brain can do two things at once. 
 
Video journalism is incredibly powerful when these strengths come to the fore.