Learning from TV news

Finally! A newspaper editor has acknowledged that “still folks” can actually learn something from TV photojournalists. And he’s done it in public, no less. Colin Mulvany, the new multimedia editor for The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Wash., writes on his new blog that newspaper photojournalists can learn how to tell a more effective story by watching how TV does it.

One of the things I, and most every newspaper shooter needs to learn, is how to edit for pacing. Many of our stories wander around, never getting to the point. We fail to edit in the little magic moments and surprises that keep a viewer staying to the end of our masterpieces. We create epics, because we can. We are afraid to use are own voice to objectively narrate our stories.

It’s encouraging to see an accomplished multimedia storyteller like Colin break away from the mindless TV bashing that so many print journalism bloggers engage in.

I think too many of us believe, as we’re huddled in our supply closet video editing suites, that we’re actually inventing a new way to tell a video story. The fact is, the cream of the TV shooter crop, has done this for decades.

He’s right, you know. Yes, too much television news is formulaic or live-for-the-sake-of-live. But there’s plenty of good work being done out there; you just have to look for it. Start by checking out the NPPA’s Best of Photojournalism winners. You can’t help but be inspired to do better work. And make a note of this: the NPPA contest now has a student photojournalism category. Students at Arizona State’s Cronkite School took the top two places last year. It’s free to enter. The 2008 deadline is February 1.