11 February 2009

How To – One-Man Band Journalism

A digital correspondent in San Diego has been sharing his tips for being an effective one-man band (OMB) journalist.

Joe Little works for KGTV 10 News and is responsible for shooting, presenting and editing his video packages.

A YouTube video showing samples of his work from last year – Joe Little 2008 - has caused a bit of a stir on the Web and prompted Little to share some of the secrets of his solo efforts.

Speaking to Poynter Online, the multimedia journalist said one of the most important tools of his trade is the reversible screen on his camera.

“I can flip the viewfinder over, stand in front of the camera and see where I am framed up in a shot. Without that, I add at least 15 minutes to a shoot.”

He added: “The tricks I use are the same ones a good two-man crew would use. I have to do both of their jobs. I look for meaning, balance and creativity.”

And he assured fellow reporters that the solo stand-ups get easier with practice, allowing him to get the basics sorted and move on to experimenting with effects such as split-screening (see above video).

However, Little admitted that OMBs can’t do everything and certain stories are much harder to put together than others.

“Courtrooms are brutal because you have to stay with the camera. I can’t go grab the attorney or the family member who just ducked out because I’m stuck behind a wall with a judge begging for a reason to throw me out.”

Confrontational interviews can be tough too: “If you have a photographer, it’s easier to fire away questions and make sure you’re right where the action is.

“It looks sloppy if I’m messing with the camera, looking through the viewfinder and still trying to focus on ‘this guy.’”

See Poynter Online for the full interview and Little’s step-by-step guide to split-screening using Final Cut Pro.

Little also shared the tricks of his trade in the comments section of his 2008 showreel on YouTube.

And if you want to know more about the day-to-day issues affecting OMBs, university students have put together a film entitled “One day in the life of Joe Little”.

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