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Keeping your skills honed: Don't always fly solo

One of the unfortunate side effects of working on your own is that the only person you have learn from is yourself! Of course, you can watch stories that other solo video journalists have produced and try to compare their work to yours. Learning from other people's mistakes is always better than making your own errors. But who can point out the good and bad parts of the other person's story? How can you learn what is good and bad without guidance from someone more experienced?

The best experience is doing. While doing, the best way to learn is from other people who have done it before. If you're working on your own all the time, who do you learn from? How do you get better? Sure, you can read blogs and forums about video production, watch other people's work and so on. But none of that is a one-hundred percent replacement for getting knowledge from a professional with lots of experience.

A one man band reporter/solo VJ, by definition, performs many tasks involved in TV news on their own with no help from someone else. Learning to combine these skills is a skill itself. That is a skill best learned by working in close quarters and talking with other solo VJs. But the best way to improve your skills in the individual fields (eg., shooting, editing, sound recording, writing etc) is to work with specialists in those fields.

This last point brings me to the thrust of this post. Once you've taken the leap towards being a one man band reporter, I think it's still critical that you maintain your involvement in more traditional methods of making TV news. Just because you are now a proud backpack journalist doesn't mean that's all you should be doing. Don't be afraid to accept work as a shooter only. For example, if someone else is doing the reporting, you have the opportunity to be more creative with the camera and editing. You also have a chance to work with another reporter and maybe pick up some reporting tips. On the other hand, if you have the chance to use a shooter for one of your reports, observe how they operate, and see if there are some camera tricks you can add to your own arsenal. 

It's a liberating experience to occasionally work with a greater focus on a smaller number of tasks. I would recommend it to any one man band reporters: work with others when possible and try to hone your skills in each individual discipline when doing so. At the end of the day, I think it'll make you a better solo VJ.

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    STEVE MORT - THE ONE MAN BAND REPORTER - STEVE'S BLOG - Keeping your skills honed: Don't always fly solo

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