If there is one thing I have learned in my time in the media industry, it’s that if you do not update your skills consistently, your days are numbered. For those who do not think EVERYONE needs to learn video skills, this is a wake-up call. There was a time when broadcasters had typing pools. Specialist typists would work on typewriters so that programmes could have scripts and any other written documents they needed. Can you imagine a newsroom today that would accept a journalist who could not even type their own script? Typing is now a baseline skill that everyone is expected to have.
More recently, when I did a stint as a young journalist at BBC Greater London Radio, there was someone who would edit the radio packages, much like a television editor. Even by that stage in the mid-1990s, this was becoming rare. Like the typing, a radio reporter who cannot edit their own pieces is not likely to survive very long in today’s industry. Editing audio has become a baseline skill too.
Now we are in a period where video is booming. 300 hours of video is uploaded to Youtube every minute. Shooting and editing video has lost its mystique because more and more people know how to do it. It is also getting easier with smartphone cameras and software apps. Every year I work on a BBC project called School Report. I work with schoolchildren around the UK to help them make news reports. What is really telling is that as each year goes on, the quality of what they are producing is improving. It is rare to find any child now who has not shot and edited a video to some degree.
What does this all mean? As each year passes, the generation that enters the media industry is more and more comfortable with shooting and editing video. This means like typing and audio editing, it is becoming a baseline skill that EVERYONE is expected to have. It amazes me that so many journalists, PR professionals and NGO staff do not have basic video creation skills. It has never been easier and it has never been more important to share your message with video. So whether you are a media professional or trying to promote a business or a cause, not having video skills is fast becoming an untenable situation.
The challenge for those of us who make a living out of video is to keep our skills relevant. With new devices and platforms, content is looking and sounding different. Snapchat Discover has attracted the likes of SKY News, showing multi-media stories in a vertical mobile-friendly way. There are also devices like the Occulus Rift which takes viewers into a world of virtual reality. It goes on and on.
Nothing stands still. Video is now a baseline skill. Those who do not master it are already being left behind. Now we must learn how to tell stories in new ways on new platforms, using whatever new tools come along.