Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of the remote newsroom is wholly consistent with a bigger, longer-term TV news trend—one that blurs the lines between reporters, video news editors, and news photographers. In this second of a three-part series on equipping remote newsroom roles for success, we're covering the tool kit for the longest-established remote role: the multimedia journalist, or MMJ.
At least since the 1990s, smaller and midmarket local stations have deployed MMJs as one-person bands who not only report but shoot, light, mic, and edit their own stories. Depending on the station, news photographers who once only shot video may also take on other reporter-related duties. The idea is simple: put more feet on the street.
For news directors and other news managers, this strategy makes the most of limited reporting resources and ultimately multiplies story count online, on social media, and on air. Making more efficient use of journalistic resources fits hand in glove with the decision many news managers made early in the pandemic to embed reporters more deeply in their communities.
Directing reporters to report, edit, and file all from out in the field, without returning to the station, increases their exposure to the communities they serve. In turn, MMJs have a stronger foundation to produce more and higher-quality stories; without the need to wait for support from the station, reporters have the freedom to report on news as it happens.
Technological Support for the Remote Newsroom
In many ways, the evolution of journalism technology made this strategy practical. Cameras shrunk enough to use smartphone video on-air. Connectivity with the station became far less technical, allowing reporters to contribute a breaking story from the field without a technician present to establish an ENG microwave connection.
Wireless connectivity now takes the form of IP backpack transmitters equipped with multiple 4G LTE and 5G modems. Often, simple connectivity from a single smartphone is sufficient to contribute live video and file edited stories.
Stations have successfully leveraged the MMJ model for decades. More firmly embedded in their communities and away from the station, though, modern journalists have new concerns about how they'll access critical tools, footage, graphics, and other content.
Everyone on a news team has the potential to wear many hats, from the reporters with editing responsibilities to the video news editors doing shooting work. News managers and technical directors have to ensure that embedded MMJs have the right content resources readily at hand to create, in essence, a remote newsroom.
The Remote Video News Editor's Tool Kit for Success
At a minimum, embedded journalists need reliable connectivity to the station, easy access to existing media assets, and the ability to integrate video clips, graphics, and other content into stories being produced on location.
A mobile connectivity solution might use backpack-based or other small IP transmitters from companies like Dejero, LiveU, or TVU Networks. These bond multiple wireless cellular connections from multiple carriers to create a data pipeline and address a common connectivity pain point. With Secure Reliable Transport (SRT), the video transport protocol used in Avid's MediaCentral | Stream that optimizes streaming performance, remote live feeds from a range of devices, including mobile phones, are possible.
Empower Journalists to Embrace Their Own Versatility
Part of Avid's story-centric workflow suite, the Media Composer | Cloud Remote editing solution is another option that enables multiple embedded reporters and editors in the field to collaboratively edit stories in the cloud, sharing editorial insights as if they were physically together in the newsroom.
Media Composer | Cloud Remote makes it possible to combine news footage shot on scene with stored file footage. Essential processes like uploading and downloading content happen in the background, so MMJs, video new editors, and other journalists in the field can concentrate on putting together the best stories.
Journalists working from their own ad hoc remote newsrooms also need a painless way to ingest footage and fit it to their station's specs, such as file naming conventions and resolution requirements. Avid MediaCentral | Ingest, an option for Avid's MediaCentral | Cloud UX, frees up their mental load by taking over ingestion tasks such as transcoding files to the house format.
News managers and technical directors see the challenges MMJs and others face out in the field; overcoming these pain points helps bring out better stories. Remote journalists are up to the task—and so are the tools they need to file compelling news stories from the field.
More in This Series
A Survival Kit for the Remote Newsroom, Part 1: The Reporter
The remote newsroom embeds reporters in the communities they cover—but it requires a new approach to mobile technology and remote collaboration.
A Survival Kit for the Remote Newsroom, Part 3: The News Producer/Program Producer
Remote broadcast workflows that embed reporters in the field have to also account for the news producer coordinating a remote team from a central hub.