KCRA Intern Accepts The One-Man Newsman Challenge
Most news interns who shadow crews out in the field simply observe and shoot a stand-up or two. Their focus is entirely on reporting and writing. Some do learn the importance of editing. But none of the reporter interns ever comes out and shoots alongside us.
In entry-level TV news today, and even at network level news, reporters and field produces must be able to shoot their own stories.
Much of this is detailed in my very-soon-to-be-released book One-Man Newsman.
So when the new semester’s brigade of interns arrived in the KCRA newsroom and started asking to come out in the field to follow us I said, “Yes, you can come out and watch us this time, but next time you have to bring a camera. A camcorder or a DSLR, borrow one or buy one, but you’ve got to learn to shoot if you’re going to get enough out of this internship to get any kind of a real job.”
So when I came into the station on Friday morning Britney Sweis, a new intern from film & television production department (I think I got that right) at American River College, Sacramento, was in an editing booth and was very excited: “I bought the camera you told me about — the Canon 60D! So I can come out and shoot news stories with you now.”
Britney had wanted a new camera for a while and been saving up. My intern shooting challenge was just the impetus she needed to get her own camera, which, in addition to shooting high-res digital still photos, can also shoot full 1080i video. This is a perfect camera for shooting video in today’s world.
This afternoon I bumped into a former co-worker, Vince Sturla, who is now a producer with NBC’s Dateline, and he was telling me that, among the many cameras they put to use at the network, he frequently shoots with Canon DSLR cameras for their shows.
On her first day of shooting out in the field with the rest of the news crews, Britney traveled with KCRA intern Alex (for Alexandria) Backus, CSU Stanislaus, Turlock.
Here is a brief extract from One-Man Newsman explaining why it’s so important not only to observe during an internship, but also to participate:
Get A Camera On Your Shoulder
More and more reporter interns are having to accept that their first job, or jobs, are going to be as MMJ, requiring them to be photographers as well. However, while they will spend time with reporters to develop their writing skills and in the editing room learning how to cut stories, they almost never will put a camera on their shoulder and do any shooting.
Just the other day I had this conversation with an intern on the street: “So how’s your reel coming?”
“My reel’s finished and I did all the writing and I edited all the stories myself.”
“Great. Did any of them have anything that you’d shot yourself in there?”
“No. But I know how to shoot.”
Every intern I’ve talked to has said almost these exact words: “Oh, I know how to shoot.” This is pretty amazing to me because I’ve been shooting for thirty years and I’m still learning new ways to use a camera.
Just because you know the distinction between a long shot, a medium shot and a close-up does not mean that you’re going to know how to shoot those shots or be able to understand how to frame them up properly in the viewfinder when it’s happening live in front of you.
Shooting is about attention to detail. Having a close-up on one object, yet making sure that there aren’t two or three other objects in the shot as well that will make the picture confusing. Or grabbing an establishing shot of a building with someone walking by in front, and it isn’t until you get back to the station and you’re editing it that you realize that the person is picking their nose or subtly giving you the finger.
If you can get a news director to look at your reel expect to be asked, “How much of this did you shoot yourself?”
“None of it.”
[End of excerpt.]
With this investment in a camera, she is also making an investment in herself and her talent. Enthusiasm and passion like that is one of the first indications of being someone worth watching. I’ll be very interested to see the progress that Britney makes over the course of her internship at KCRA.