News Video Camera Operator Jobs

A career in journalism/news videography is perfect for those who have always wanted to cover news as it happens or report on human interest stories.

Journalism/news videography is also often referred to as electronic news gathering (ENG) although the use of that term is dying out since nearly all news video is shot on video. (The term first rose to popularity at the emergence of digital video technology in the 1990s.) In addition to live events, journalism/news videographers are often given assignments like feature stories, editorials, sports, business reporting, entertainment, real-estate reporting and hard news stories.

Those who work in journalism/news videography can expect to wear many hats. This is because they often work on location and for live broadcast of developing news, they do not have the time (or money) to set up enough equipment for sound/audio or video editing. So, when a news videographer is assigned to shoot on location, the team may consist the news videographer, the reporter and maybe a sound/audio technician. The downsizing of reporting teams can also be blamed on budget cuts within the industry.

In this field, the news videographer has three main responsibilities: producing, operating the camera and editing video. As producers, they will consult with the reporter to plan a live or taped video segment. This includes setting up and taping interviews, determining where to set up and working with a sound/audio technician to achieve the best sound quality for the video. For live events or breaking news, the videographer consults with the reporter on where to set up location, how and where to set up the lighting and audio and may have time to do edits in camera. Typically, however, in those situations, their primary job is setting up and shooting video. It is more likely that news videographers will work with a full team of editors and producers on set in a news studio. Most news videographers who work on location also need to be fully aware of and well-versed in the video editing process. They use portable video-editing equipment to edit the acquired footage to create story packages for broadcast or web-streaming. Also, in more senior positions, the news videographer may even assist with scriptwriting or storyboarding

Work Environment

Because of the nature of covering and reporting on certain events, the work environment for news camera operators can be dangerous at times. This is particularly true if you are assigned to cover a riot, a fire, natural disaster or war. Videographers work very long hours and sometimes they work on weekends and holidays. One trend that has emerged thanks to digital technology is that of the Weekend News Videographer (you might see similar positions in Weekend News Video Production or Editing, etc.). These are generally part-time positions with very long shifts whose sole purpose is to pick up stories that might occur over the weekend. News happens all the time and media outlets need to be prepared to cover it all times. Videographers who work in studios will probably not have more set schedules, but they will have a set location from which to work. They will also have a more defined role, since they have the benefit of working with video editors as well as sound/audio technicians while in the studio. For news videographers who work for cable television news channels, they will have very irregular schedules because of the advent of the 24-hour news cycle.

Typical Responsibilities

  • Demonstrate ability to shoot, produce, edit and create strong, dynamic video content
  • Excellent storytelling ability
  • Conceive, produce, prepare multimedia content that includes text, audio, video and sometimes still images for websites
  • Work with newsroom staff to coordinate video projects
  • Incorporate multi-media into online content

Skills and Qualifications

  • Four-year degree in video production and editing with some broadcast journalism coursework is helpful
  • At least two years of work experience
  • Knowledge of lighting techniques for broad conditions; excellent audio production skills, working knowledge of video-editing
  • Ability to travel extensively, sometimes at the drop of a hat
  • Ability to train other staff on equipment and software
  • Remain abreast of technology directions and trends

Getting Started

Although a four-year degree is not imperative in this field, it is helpful, especially if you have the chance to take some broadcast journalism classes. If you are interested in working in this field, one way to get your foot in the door is to work at your local newspaper or your local alt-weekly’s online department. An increasing number of newspapers, weeklies and dailies have incorporated exclusive online content and this can lead to a permanent position as an online news video producer or it can help build up your portfolio.

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