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What does a Video Journalist do?

By Tara Barnett
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A video journalist makes videos that convey the news or other factual stories to an audience. Typically, this type of journalist does all or most aspects of the task independently, which may include research, editing, and reporting. Video journalists sometimes work for news programs, but it is also common for these professionals to work independently or as freelancers. Given the portability of cameras and the ease with which a person can distribute video online, being a video journalist is often seen as a viable alternative to more traditional forms of journalism.

Video journalism is a type of journalism that uses video and audio content to convey information about the news. It is important to realize that video, in this case, includes footage taken on film and cameras, and still images can be included. Usually, a video journalist must compose these elements into a final video that includes features like titles and voiceovers. Therefore, being a video journalist requires excellent editing skills in order to meet current production standards.

A video journalist may work alone doing a number of different tasks in order to complete a single video. Often, the journalist first selects an important story and does research on that story in order to determine what information should be included in the video. The journalist may then record footage of the event or take video accounts of the event. Once footage has been acquired, it must then be edited and finished in a professional manner. Often, editing requires not only choosing which shots to use, but also making the recorded footage look more professional and making sure all transitions are smooth.

There are many rules concerning both video footage and journalism, and a video journalist must take pains to follow all these rules. For example, a person may need people who are recorded to sign a release form depending on where the footage was shot and how it was used. Rules concerning ethics of reporting must also be followed, and keeping track of the veracity of a story is essential. This often requires filing paperwork and maintaining records.

Freelance video journalists often spend a large amount of time looking for work rather than actually working. While it is possible for a journalist to run her own site or participate in a free site, most journalists do try to occasionally sell a story. Pitching ideas can be extremely time consuming and frustrating, so some people choose to balance their time between working on projects that have not been sold and selling potential projects to interested companies.

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Discussion Comments
By Chmander — On Aug 15, 2014

I like how the second to last paragraph mentions the rules of whatever it is you're filming. In fact, I've even heard that it's illegal to record footage of some places. For example, one time, my friend was going to do a documentary on slaughterhouses, but she soon had to choose something else, because it's illegal to film inside. Then again, if that's the case, how are those documentaries filmed and produced?

By RoyalSpyder — On Aug 14, 2014

@Krunchyman - You make some good points in your last paragraph, as it's essential to know how to work a camera if you're planning on working with any sort of footage, especially if it's documentary related. For those who aren't quite familiar with the equipment, it might seem very intimidating at first. However, over time, you would definitely get used to it.

Like most equipment, working with a camera involves knowing how to work the buttons and shots. It's important to take small steps at a time, if you want to adjust. For example, if you're new with a camera and want to make a documentary, to start off, maybe you can film a thirty second clip. However, over time, you can expand upon this more, till you become ready and equipped.

By Krunchyman — On Aug 14, 2014

The article reminds me of a class I took during my senior year of college, which involved media and film. While we didn't do anything that was related to video journalism, we definitely worked with the cameras and did mini documentaries of sorts. I guess that in a way, you can consider it to be a step in the right direction toward video journalism. In fact, this article has me interested. On the other hand, I'm still a bit rusty with the camera, and since we didn't work with it much during class, I should learn the basics of a camera some more.

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