When I started college to study Broadcast and Electronic Communication, I knew my family was skeptical of whether or not I’d ever be able to find a job in this field. To convince them I pointed to the local news. I said, “look, you need dozens of people to run that type of operation. And there are news stations all over the country. I’ll be fine.” A few months later, our local ABC affiliate replaced all of its camera operators with robotic cameras and I began to worry if I had made a good decision. Turns out, the robotic cameras were just the beginning.
About a week ago, broadcast news giant CNN laid off 50 video editors and videographers. The decision came after a long term company analysis of resources and personnel. They found that the shift towards using iReporters and prosumer personnel is more budget friendly and overall effective than the work done by professionals. Not only are consumers willing to give CNN their content for free, the content is also broadcast quality since cell phone cameras have improved and the cost of camcorders has dropped drastically.
This news has made quite a shock wave in the professional editing circle because if you’re not safe at CNN, where are you safe? Is this shift towards consumer generated content going to take off across the country, even down to the smallest markets? The answer is undoubtedly, yes. Mega news stations like CNN not only set the trends for the rest of the broadcast news industry, but it also provides content for many of the smaller stations through its digital media distribution service called Pathfire. Because of this service, we’re already seeing that same consumer produced content shown on hundreds of different stations everyday. This will certainly result in an overall change to the way American broadcast news looks and feels on every level.
Is this decision right or wrong?
As a professional in this industry, I desperately want to say that CNN is making a ludicrous decision. I do believe that shooting and editing video is an art form just like composing a song or writing a Pulitzer prize-winning article. However, as I reflect on this decision as a consumer of media, I find that I agree with CNN’s choice. When I watch TV, I enjoy much of the consumer generated content. It gives the story point of view and a personality that could otherwise be lost. Take the terrible earthquakes in Japan, for instance. The footage taken by the every day citizens during the quake is way more captivating than the helicopter stock footage of the rubble afterwards. Had news outlets not been open to consumer generated content, we would have never been able to add that humanistic experience to the news coverage.
Does this mean the video editing and videographer professions should die out? Absolutely not, because there are still plenty of outlets that can use these skills. As many corporations look to enhance their social media presence, they are reaching out to talented videographers and video editors to help shape their online image. As long as we are willing to continue to evolve the profession, there will always be creative opportunities to be had.
What do you think? Is CNN’s decision going to backfire? Or do you agree with the movement to embrace consumer generated content? Let us know by leaving a comment below or joining the conversation on Facebook.
And if you’re still a fan of professional quality video, we have some really top-notch stock footage available at VideoBlocks. Here is a free stock footage clip that you can download and incorporate into any of your upcoming projects!
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