Fearing the Backpack? Here’s the Skinny on Going “DJ”

Longtime Backpacker Kevin Sites

Longtime Backpacker Kevin Sites

Yeah, sure, you can sit in the newsroom and bitch and moan with co-workers about how sure you are that “it’ll never happen here,” but odds are, the longer you stay in local tv news, the more likely it is that somebody at some point is going to hand you a small camera and laptop and ask you to do it all yourself. We used to call ’em one-man-bands, now you hear “multimedia journalist” or “digital journalist.” And it’s not just for small markets anymore. CNN calls them “all-platform” journalists, WNBC’s “Content Center,” of course, is modeled on the MMJ format, and WUSA in Washington used multimedia journalists on the biggest of big local stories: the Inauguration of Barack Obama.

NBC's Mara Schiavocampo

NBC's Mara Schiavocampo

Deborah Potter, whose NewsLab is mandatory daily reading, has a great piece up on advancingthestory (companion to the book of the same name) about how backpackers like NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo are getting the story–and getting themselves on franchise media titans like the NBC Nightly News. Even if the idea of it gives you sudden rush of thoughts like, “how bad could PR really be?” this post is worth a look.


Filed under Local News 2.0, Uncategorized

10 responses to “Fearing the Backpack? Here’s the Skinny on Going “DJ”

  1. This made me smile. I’m not gonna lie, it’s something I’ve dreaded. I’m actually doing it now but not on a daily basis, this makes me smile though, and it makes me feel a little better.

  2. Jennifer,

    Glad to have you on the site. And, of course, to get a smile. You’re definitely not the only one dreading the idea of carrying a camera, but the more I look at it, the more I can wrap my head around the creative opportunities inherent in doing it all, much like being a documentary filmmaker on a smaller scale.


  3. Kim

    Really this is just a natural progession. Ever since the technology got smaller and cheaper, and the bloggers and freelancers started selling us their stuff, it’s been inevitable.

    I welcome it as an awesome opportunity for reporters (and all those PA’s and VJ’s who would like to be on cam) to get creative, learn how to tell a story on their own, and be truly mobile.

    I fear it because I don’t want to sacrifice quality storytelling, consistent fact-checking, and excellent videography for the “live on the scene”/”we have a really small budget” aspect of it all.

  4. Great thoughts on the topic, Kim, and I appreciate you adding to the discussion. I agree with you on the ability for fearless reporters to get out there and really show their stuff, but also worry about the factory-style grind that could result from managers trying to feed the beast.


  5. Wow! There’s a name for me and what I do and I did not even know it: “multimedia journalist,” “digital journalist” and “all-platform” journalist. They all fit! I have a decade’s background in print journalism and have grown restless to use my digital photo/video skills and get in front of the camera! Last summer/fall, I went to South America for two months and fine-tuned my backpacker reporter skills on the move through Brazil and Peru, blogging about adventure travel and endurance sports. I am thrilled I am on the right track as a one-woman do-it-yourselfer. Now just need to find more markets!

  6. Vonham

    We military broadcasters have been doing one-man bands for the past 25 years or more. After the initial shock and a few stumbles you find your work flow and become indignantly independent. The cameras are so small now there’s really nothing to it.

  7. Karen, Vonham-

    Thanks for posting!

    Karen–get in front of that camera and send links with the results!

    And Vonham–“indignantly independent.” I LOVE that. Fantastic. I’ve known a few military broadcasters, and the term fits.

    Thanks to you both for reading the blog!


  8. Paul

    Great to see video journalist stuff.. thought you should know about a master in this field.. David Dunkley Gyimah


    Tell David his friend in Madrid recommended you
    (of course, Paul isn’t my real name 😉

    Good Luck!

    • Hey “Paul,”

      Thanks for visiting the site…and for the link. I’m going to check out your friend’s stuff and maybe link as well. And feel free to spread the word in Madrid… love those overseas page hits!



  9. I give you guys all of the credit in the world for pioneering this metamorphosis. It is indeed the future of this industry. I see this as the salvation not only for our business but for the wave of potential new digital journalists being created everyday in the wake of layoffs, buyouts and cutbacks.

    If you are considering it for yourself, visit my site: pnglaboratories.com

    Make yourself instantly marketable and available as a digital journalist to any outlet in the world with our software.

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