Video Journalism - Can any teenager do it now?
I have recently had a chance to check out what will likely be the next generation of Video Journalists. Sitting in a room full of brand new Macs at the University of Salford, I watched the students at work.
What was almost frightening was that so many of them found their way around Final Cut as if they had been using it for a decade. What is more, they were using creative techniques that would leave many current professionals bewildered.
So if that was a sign fo the times, imagine what an eye-opener it was to visit a school and see children in their early teens doing exactly the same thing. Again, they were comfortable on the edit software and were happy to play around with all the "whistles and bells" that Final Cut provides.
So that raised the question: Can any teenager now be a Video Journalist? In some ways the answer is yes. With the ability to film and edit they can create stories. When people criticised Video Journalism because people were learning new skills on the job, I used to point out that the next generation will grow up being video literate. This is now happening.
The arguments over picture quality and multi-skilling will die away. Try telling one of these teenagers that they should only shoot and never touch an edit. Or shoot and edit but asking a question to an interviewee is simply not on.
There is, however a catch.
When you try and coach these talented youngsters you soon learn one thing. It is often easier to learn the technical part of Video Journalism, than it is to master the journalism. It involves spotting a story, researching, being aware of legal issues, scripting, voicing and all the people skills involved in getting the best out of interviewees.
In all the discussions over recent years about the technology, the Journalism in Video Journalism has often been overlooked. Whatever the skills the next generaton enter the marketplace with. They will still have to learn the basics of journalism and storytelling. In that way, I suppose, some things will never change.