If you have ever dreamed of making TV news rather than just watching it, here’s some good news: it’s not nearly as hard, or as expensive, as you think.
I am at the Mozilla Festival 2011 in London this weekend, a meeting of hacks and hackers working on media freedom and the web. Rather than just coming along as a participant, which would be great in itself, I have volunteered to work with visionOntv. So far today I have been on teams doing no-edit mobile phone reports and studio interviews with the huge variety of people here. The idea is both to do journalism and to teach other people how to do journalism.
“We are all about no edit,” says visionOntv’s Marc Barto. “When you edit, it’s extra time. What we want to do is to teach people to use the media-making tools they have, wherever they are, and to upload their stories on to the internet from wherever they are.”
That means interviewing participants about the software and journalism projects they’re working on, what they’re looking for in terms of collaborators at the festival and who they’ve found. There are great stories going on all around and we just reach out and pull participants in to tell us all about it. Catching it on video helps bring the projects alive, getting the message out and playing a part in the collaborative process. It gives a chance to those who can’t make it down to North Greenwich in East London to get a sense of it all. For those who can come, it’s a chance to make media and learn new reporting skills.
“We want to empower people in this process by showing what’s behind the cameras, to demystify the media,” adds Marc.
For mobile phone reports, that means a 3-shot sequence done in one take with an introduction, interview and closing piece to camera. The trick is to use a mike to make sure the sound quality’s up to scratch and to have enough phone battery to keep working. The first shot is an establisher, the second the content and the third the sign off. The next stage up here is the two TV studios visionOntv is running at the festival, one fixed the other mobile, each hijacking people as they move between the various great sessions going on over the weekend.
The explosion in user-generated content over the last few years is great. Unfortunately a lot of what comes out is rubbish, either too long, or shot with poor sound or a wobbly camera. visionOntv, which bills itself as an independent internet TV station, wants to help people improve their work. They try to teach people a few tricks to make their video reports so much better, with the tools they already have in their pockets. They don’t have to become professional journalists to do high quality work – some would say it would probably help produce hi