Video Journalism, or news-gathering is very different from other forms of filming, although in some ways not dissimilar from guerilla techniques. Some methodologies can be found, but it is always in a general setting of uncertainty. Even filming a press conference can have unforeseen circumstances. It is also similar to wild life filming in some ways. You can spend hours and hours, just waiting for one shot, or sequence of events to happen in order to convey the story, or what is happening. It sometimes works out, and sometimes it doesn’t.
When covering any story keep in mind; who, what, when, where and why? For instance; who is protesting, what are they protesting about, when - the date - is it specific, where are they protesting - the location and finally - why? There is nothing to say these cannot be asked in a different order, this as always is just an example.
For information about press guidelines and watchdog in the UK, go to; Journalism.
On some events many things will be happening all around you and the idea (the idea mind you) is to capture something of value amongst the cacophony. Sometimes the something of value can be obvious, and at other times it isn’t. It also depends on why you are there and what you are trying to achieve. Are you getting footage to sell to a broadcast news outlet, or it could be something you regard with more value personally, a long term project, a documentary?
Documentary is closer to orthodox film making (if there is such a thing), in terms of planning / treatment and so on. It can also include stock footage, as in news footage and archive. You could view it as a half way between news and narrative story telling as with television and cinema films. All however have a common purpose, to tell a story, convey information, or give an account of an event. Documentary can do all three. News is a record which becomes part of an historical archive.
News footage does have a crucial roll to play in keeping a record of events (accurate, or inaccurate), it can become an historical document, a snapshot of time, places and people, situations and circumstances. It can remind us of suffering, dissent, struggles, protest, battles, wars and bloodshed. As well as success, unity, strength, development and growth. As soon as it is recorded it becomes a potential historic document.
While an archive is in the hands of a few it can become narrow and manipulated. While news and therefore history is in the hands of many, it can have more depth and variation. It can be an incident covered from different angles and perspectives, instead of only one, which can distort the meaning.
Whatever you do with news, don’t be in a rush to give it away. Remember it has value, as does the time you take to get the footage. News organisation’s make a lot of money and it is only reasonable for you to be paid for your contribution.
Unions can help with advice on rates of pay. Find out more from the NUJ (National Union of Journalists).
For different legal issues when filming / programme making (including licenses) in the U.K go to; Legal (U.K)
international documentary association www.documentary.org
Worlds Largest Footage Directory, Rights & Clearances, Complementary Research.