Expansion in US TV's one-man bureaus

Some call them “one man bands” – others, more technical minded, call them “digital journalists”.

Whatever the name, the number of one-man bureaus in the television news world is expanding. For one thing it’s cheaper.

Where at one time in Paris for example, the ABC news bureau consisted of three camera crews, three producers, two correspondents, drivers and even an in-house chef, with a kitchen looking out at the Eiffel Tower – today there is just one lone producer.

To compensate, many American networks are opening more one-man bureaus. CNN, for example, is assigning ten more journalists to one-man bureaus across the US – in effect doubling its outposts.

In most cases, also to save money, office space will be rented from local news organisations. The reporters will use laptops and cell phones to file their stories and other simple- to- use equipment to file even live footage.

The one-man bureaus are not confined to the US. ABC has stationed seven digital journalists overseas in such cities as New Delhi, Jakarta, Dubai and Nairobi. While some journalist resent the changes network bosses claim covereage won’t suffer.

CNN claim they have been able to expand their coverage of the world.

But it doesn’t always work. When fighting broke out last week in Georgia most of the networks, as the NY Times reported, were caught flat-footed. NBC, for example, no longer has a full time correspondent in Russia.

Some stories, it is admitted, still require full-size crews, but for most news, especially on websites, a single skilled journalist is now regarded as sufficient.

The ideal TV journalist in the future, it’s said, will be one to whom a producer will hand a camera, show him or her the “on” and “off ” buttons and tell them to get to work.

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