One Man News Crew: A Zooppa Intern’s Story

Unlike the newspaper industry, television news is still a viable business that has yet to truly struggle. But with the many options we have on our cable boxes, as well as the emergence of online streaming content, viewership for the evening newscast has gone significantly down. Since 1980, using the November sweeps month as the measure, viewership is down by 54.5%. But there are signs of an uptick. Network news audiences grew in 2011 for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

So how are the news networks making money? Simple. Downsizing.

Traditionally, it would take around four people to produce a 1-2 minute story. Here’s who would show up on the scene:

  • Reporter – That person on your TV.
  • Camera Operator – Whoever is controlling the camera, to make sure you see what you see on TV. (That rhymed!)
  • Editor – The person chilling in the editing bay, cutting and splicing what you see and hear on TV.
  • Producer – The brains of the piece. The person who did / does the research, writing, tells the camera operator what shots to get, and tells the editor what shots to select.

Of course, it’s a different ball game when we throw satellite trucks or a high-profile interview subject needs to be lit properly. Simply, there’s a lot of people working on a 1-2 minute product that goes up on a nightly basis.

Network news organizations are now downsizing to accomodate multi-media journalists, or one-man bands. Instead of the usual 3-4 people showing up to cover one story, one person is going out there to produce, report, and edit a piece to air that night, or sometime in the future.

Hello, my name is Akaash Saini, Zooppa’s newest intern, and I am one of those multi-media journalists.

I am a by-product of a network news company taking the education of their journalists into their own hands, to ensure quality. I attended a one-year, college-accredited program for multi-media journalism with NBC News in New York City in 2009, and since then, I have worked towards completing my bachelor’s degree this next spring, in 2013.

Why choose to be a multi-media journalist? Why do some choose to be independent filmmakers? We love to have ownership over our projects. Whether it be a news piece, a short film, or an ad created for a Zooppa campaign.

So if you’re a one-man-crew like I am, remember these tips:

  • Be mobile. – Would it make more sense to carry my tripod and wireless lav mic set when covering an event? I would have no camera movement, and yes, my audio would be crisper for interviews. But instead, I’ve worked on operating a camera without a tripod, and the shotgun mic attached to my camera is provides enough audio clarity. (I only use my tripod for stage events and seated interviews.) I would rather focus on asking the right questions in interviews than setting up a tripod and mic’ing someone up. When you’re carrying a few bags of equipment, you should be able to walk whatever distance, without feeling discomfort.
  • Be confident, but be Smart as well. – There have been many times where I’ve just shown up to events with my camera. Be confident and ask around to find the event coordinator, or whoever is in charge, and give them the short elevator pitch as to who you are, and why you’re there to film. All publicity is good publicity in their eyes. Once you complete the project, they’ll most likely use your piece on their website or social media sites. That elevator pitch is important. No more than 43 seconds, or the time it takes to take the elevator to the top of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington. Also, spend the extra buck for a few business cards. It shows you’re serious about what you’re doing. Confidence is important, but so is working smartly. Get in contact with organizations if you want to use their space or feature them in your production. Remember to not trespass on anyone’s property. The sidewalk is perfectly fine though, it is public property. Final thought: No event is too small for a freelance journalist to cover. I’ve received credentials to cover President Barrack Obama give a campaign speech. Anything is possible if you present yourself with confidence.
  • Set deadlines. – As a journalist, I gave myself a day to edit my pieces. There were times where I wanted to continue working on them, but journalism is all about deadlines. A piece is brought up, filmed, edited, and put up on the evening newscast in several hours. As a one-man-crew, give yourself some leeway  but not too much.
  • Social Media is important. – This is a given, but I cannot stress the importance of social media enough. Because of social media, I built a network of professionals within the Seattle area that not only gave me hits on my site, but also videography jobs! Remember to tweet about relevant information that your network would appreciate, and remember to keep a dialogue with everyone. Reply to individuals and business tweets as often as possible. They will follow and start paying attention to you as well.
  • Have fun. – You have complete ownership over your story or project. Make it good, but also have fun. And remember, always smile!

I look forward to working with the Zooppa team and the Zooppa community! (I think you guys call yourselves “Zooppsters”, right?)

– Akaash Saini

Meme E

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