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Date: Oct 13, 2011
Hofstra Meets Rising Need for Backpack Journalists
New course and book on solo videojournalism will help students land jobs in changing media market.
Hofstra University,Hempstead, NY -- Hofstra University's School of Communication has introduced a new required course in its journalism curriculum this fall that will prepare students to meet the growing demand for “backpack” journalists who, equipped with a video camera and laptop, can singlehandedly create all the elements of a broadcast or web video story.
The course will be taught using a new cutting-edge book called Going Solo: Doing Videojournalism in the 21st Century (University of Missouri Press), written by associate professor of journalism G. Stuart Smith, who over a 30-year career has produced two documentaries and won more than two dozen awards for his work as a videojournalist. Smith is also one of two professors teaching the course, called Multimedia Journalism Video, where students will learn not only how to report and write news and features, but to shoot and edit accompanying images and video footage, a job that has traditionally been done by two people -- a reporter and photographer or cameraman -- in the past.
Smith wrote the book in response to the new trend he saw rising in the industry. "There is a confluence of events that has turned virtually every media outlet toward using more video and they're depending on solo videojournalists to make it happen,” he notes “First, video production gear has continued to get cheaper, lighter and easier to operate over several years. Next, the advent of the Web has changed everything. Newspapers and magazine editors realized that not only could they deliver text to audiences, they could show their audiences what was happening in the news and develop exclusive feature stories with video." He adds that the depressed economy made it more palatable--and sometimes necessary--for TV stations especially to make a cultural change and start sending out one person with a video camera instead of a two-person crew.
Hofstra's Department of Journalism, Media Studies, and Public Relations, part of an elite group of institutions that has earned full accreditation from the prestigious Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, moved away this year from the typical “print” or “broadcast” tracks. Instead, it requires all journalism majors to get basic multimedia skills along with other core classes such as reporting, law and ethics, while allowing students the flexibility to study and master one area such as magazine writing, broadcast journalism, online journalism or information graphics.
"As the industry moves toward more multimedia on the Web, students who want to be a newspaper or magazine writer can't always count on a job if they have just reporting and writing skills. This new course, along with Professor Smith's groundbreaking new book, ensures that Hofstra students will have the video skills needed to add value to their stories and give them a solid edge in a competitive job market," says Evan Cornog, PhD, dean of the School of Communication.
"Going Solo" serves as a media studies book examining the rise of solo videojournalism, as well as a practical how-to guide for both students and experienced midcareer journalists who need to upgrade their skills to keep themselves marketable. In addition, the book can help collegiate journalism programs across the country update their curriculum since most textbooks up to this point typically separate the skills of a reporter/writer from those of a videographer/editor.
Watch Prof. Smith talk about his new book and the new Multimedia Journalism Video course at Hofstra:
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