Well now, all-platform reporters are all the rage. CNN's among the most prominent of news companies claiming the turf. Its recent announcement that it was starting -- yes, starting in the summer of 2008! -- 10 new US bureaus (Columbus, Ohio; Denver; Houston; Las Vegas; Minneapolis, Minn.; Orlando, Fla.; Philadelphia; Phoenix; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; and Seattle) offered this:
"All-platform journalists will combine new technologies with traditional journalism skills to gather news from the heart of America for all CNN's networks and services, especially CNN's growing digital platforms."
All-platform journalism -- or at least training print wretches on how to use a camcorder -- of course is being adopted across the country, although unevenly. The Washington Post, deservedly, has gotten digital ink on having trained 185+ newsroom staffers on creating video. (The Post manager in charge of that initiative, Chet Rhodes, is doing a day-long seminar at the upcoming Online News Association meeting in DC.)
Big movements are one thing; little examples (J101) are always better. As I spent part of Labor Day Weekend perusing Sarah Palin goings-on, I came across a great example of what original video reporting can mean. Check out Palin's Aug. 13 press conference in Anchorage, with more than a half hour of raw video. It's only Day 4 of the Palin story and who knows what will pop up next? One issue, though, will certainly bob and weave through the news in the election's run-up, Gov. Palin's "Wootengate." As the Alaska legislature plows on with its investigation on how much Palin and her staff used the office's power to try to get a state trooper (her brother-in-law, in divorce from her sister) fired, the video may tell us a lot about how Palin's truthiness is judged.
Clearly, she'll get sympathy for standing up for her sister. The question, though, the Legislature's special investigator is looking into is if and how she used the power of her office to settle a family score. They'll pick that apart. My sense is that their judgment won't mean a lot to the voting public. What may mean something is whether Palin told the truth -- or not -- about her role in pushing the state's top cop to fire the trooper.
On the video, she's picking her words on the fly -- and denying she directly asked staffers to intervene. (Now, belatedly, something about a vp nomination, she's hired a private attorney.) The Northern Exposure-like press conference is a curious watch, with the governor or her aide admitting that more a dozen times her staff pushed to have Wooten dealt with. As staffers are interviewed by the investigator, and as reporters roam over Alaska looking for any angle into the Palin story, the video may prove to be important.
That video was shot using a FlipCam by Anchorage Daily News government reporter Kyle Hopkins. The capture shows what a local newspaper can do and how vital that new work can be in this new age. It doesn't take the place of good, local reporting; it supplements it at least and may turn out to a big part of the story going forward.
"[I] shoot video whenever possible," Hopkins told me.
If you're checking out adn.com, do check out the Bristol Palin pregnancy story. The story itself offers no new revelations, but comments on it sure do. 457 comments at this writing, going into Tuesday morning. This is one of those delicate stories that mainstream media have a hard time knowing how to handle, and end up tiptoeing around. Readers, though, are another story, understanding that the Palin daughter pregnancy says something viscerally to them and fellow voters. You can can catch up on readers' take on Sarah Palin's parenting, unwed pregnancy, motherhood and lots more.
My favorite comment:
"Wasn't [fired public safety commissioner] Monegan in charge of the security detail for the gov's family? That might explain canning him.
Monegan should have had [Palin brother-in-law trooper] Wooten covering Bristol then he could have tazed the proud papa to be before he had the chance to sow his wild oats."