deborah petersen.social media editor.writer.guide

Unraveling Social Media One Tool at a Time

Tips for journalists on camera and behind the camera


google-sites-hangout-iconRecently, I heard a colleague tell a co-worker who had just done a Google+ Hangout “You have a face for radio.” It was said in jest, of course, but it points out how often newspaper journalists find themselves on camera or behind the camera these days. There’s nothing new about videoconferencing, of course,  but more and more, being on camera for meetings and interviews  is becoming the norm. Google + Hangouts, Gotomeeting, Skype and other services make that easy, while Tout and Vine apps mean that reporters are shooting more video.

Suddenly, it matters whether you shaved this morning, and how well you can speak on camera while narrating a video you are shooting at a crime scene or when you are sitting at your laptop providing analysis on a Google + Hangout.

Therefore, training journalists in this area becomes crucial. We are doing some of this training at the San Jose Mercury News, Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times  as we roll out the Tout video platform with Digital First Media.

At first, we focused our Tout training only on shooting techniques such eliminating background noise, taking advantage of the best lighting, and how to frame the video shot.

Then, Yvonne Leow of Digital First noted that it was time to add speaking on-camera tips to the training. I thought I would share some of those here.

My top tip to reporters who are doing Google+ Hangouts is: “Don’t fear the silence.” Too often, we speak quickly when we are being recorded, and often that leads to interrupting the other person hanging out with you. And, since this is not Fox News, where people shout over each other enough to be heard, no one gets heard.  Try pausing for a second before you respond to the person on the Hang Out with you.

Also, speak slowly and deliberating when you are on camera. This may not feel natural at first, but your audience will thank you.

Here’s some others great tips from Dan Petty, Social Media Editor for the Denver Post.

  • Print/newspaper journalists don’t like staring into a camera because it doesn’t feel natural staring at an inanimate object. Often, they’ll look away and look distracted and distant because of that (looking down at notes occasionally is OK, but you probably don’t need much over 15-30 seconds). It’s important to remember to keep your gaze locked on the camera, looking away only if you’re trying to show someone something, which is almost impossible unless you have someone operating the camera for you.
  • Making the news sound current, not like you’re reading something that appeared in the newspaper. So instead of: “Police said a man was found slumped over his chair,” you say: “Police are saying a man was found slumped over his chair.”
  • Some hand motion is OK, to make you not look stiff, but too much hand motion is distracting.
  • When you’re on camera, people care about your appearance.
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This entry was posted on May 20, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , .
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