King of videojournalism to train BBC staff

Michael Rosenblum

 Controversial videojournalism guru Michael Rosenblum has been signed up by the BBC to train 60 of its staff on how to shoot their own stories.

Rosenblum, who in the Nineties was hired by Associated Newspapers’ cable channel for London, Channel One, to train videojournalists, is being brought in to work with BBC nations and regions staff.

In what is believed to be a £500,000 deal, eight trainers from his New York-based media consultancy, Rosenblum Associates, will arrive next month. They will work with 30 journalists from Scotland, Ireland and Wales, and 30 from the English regions.

Over a period of three weeks, groups of up to 20 journalists and producers across both news and current affairs will learn how to use Sony PD150 cameras to film and narrate reports.

Lara Hughey from Rosenblum Associates confirmed trainers would be in Birmingham on 3 September.

But negotiations with the NUJ over a pay deal for the staff taking part are still ongoing.

Rosenblum, a former CBS producer, set up Video News International, which employed a network of 80 videojournalists worldwide to provide news for the major US news networks. He is seen as being at the extreme end of the videojournalism debate, claiming that the future is in the hands of reporters able to use small digital cameras and laptop editing systems.

He believes that by working with a small camera with a built-in microphone a journalist can produce work that is editorially and technically superior to that of a conventional correspondent with a camera crew and producer.

He has been critical of the BBC in the past, claiming in an interview with Press Gazette in 1996 that the BBC would get the "shit kicked out of them" as videojournalism democratised the media.

"The BBC is full of people who want to make TV and they have rooms full of cameras that no one is allowed to touch," he said. "That’s like walking into The Times and having 1,000 reporters and four pencils. It is clinically insane and it is a stupid way to do journalism." Some journalists are concerned that the BBC is moving too fast with multi-skilling and that editorial standards will suffer. But some news chiefs from the nations and regions believe that the low-cost cameras will allow them to report stories which could otherwise be missed.

A BBC spokeswoman said it was too early to confirm that training would be going ahead.

By Julie Tomlin

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