“More journalists will become jacks-of-all-trades, wielding cameras, microphones and lights, as well as lists of interview questions,” writes the NY Times’ Brian Stelter and Bill Carter in their examination of a broadcast news industry in flux. With ABC’s announcement last week that it would undergo a major reorganization, Stelter and Carter talk with ABC News president David Westin about how the traditional roles and boundaries we’re used to are shifting:
Mr. Westin said high-priced and purely cosmetic talent would become an increasingly endangered species. “There have been people in television news — very successful people — who do not write,” he said. “We are going to definitely require more of our journalists.”
When he was covering the recent earthquake in Haiti, “I couldn’t do some basic journalism because I needed to worry about tech stuff,” he said. “There are enormous benefits, but there are also real concerns that we have to do this wisely.” That’s the balance ABC News is wrestling with as it cuts 25% of its 1,400-person staff and halves its ranks of bureau correspondents, replacing them with two dozen digital journalists.
Network executives say smaller cameras and laptop editing software offer them a lifeline as they struggle to contain costs. Instead of relying on different people to produce, report, shoot and edit stories, one or two people with the right equipment can handle those tasks.
Yesterday, ABC News’ Melia Patria reported from Santiago, Chile for “Good Morning America” and the Sunday edition of “World News,” filing packages she shot in the aftermath of the earthquake. Patria, a segment producer for “Nightline,” happened to be in Santiago during the disaster, but, considering some of the developments last week, one TVNewser reader wondered if it was a “sign in the direction of ABC News ‘digital journalists,’ correspondents/producers/shooters.”