Working as a one-man band
Multimedia journalist at WUSA-TV, Elizabeth Jia shares her story
By Wesley Cho
The march of technology and the economic recession have changed the TV news industry. Many stations already have or are beginning to move their news crews to “One-Person Crews.” These so-called, “One-Man Band” or “Multimedia Journalists” are not only responsible for reporting and writing, but also for shooting and editing. However, there have been many debates over the issue. Some TV journalists worry about the quality of news because not everyone can be skilled enough to do everything. Others say Multimedia Journalists will raise both the quantity of news and its quality as well. WUSA-TV, Channel 9 is based in Washington DC and it’s the first station in a major market to replace its crews with Multimedia Journalists. Here’s a Q& A with WUSA-TV’s Multimedia Journalist Elizabeth Jia:
Q. Can you tell me a bit about your background? What led you to become a multimedia journalist?
A. I was born in Shanghai, China and grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. I studied journalism not thinking I would become a multimedia journalist. In college, the word “multimedia” was not a popular word yet. Then, when I was accepted into the Talent Development Program at Gannett, I was trained as a multimedia journalist.
Q. How has the station been evaluating one-man band production? Are they satisfied with the changes they made a few years ago?
A. Every reporter is expected to know multimedia skills in the newsroom. I think the newsroom knows that certain stories require more than one person to cover it effectively. So, it’s based upon editorial judgment (for example, some stories are less safe when done with one person such as traffic or weather stories)
Q. What are some of the advantages of being a “one-person crew?”
A. I have better access to different locations since the camera is smaller, and I don’t have a crew accompanying me. This gives me a chance to cover more in-depth stories.
Q. What kind of stories inspire you?
A. Human-interest stories or personal stories always inspire me.
Q. Do you see any changes in the future of journalism?
A. I think the future of journalism belongs to people who know how to effectively tell their stories online, print and in broadcast. The quality of journalism will improve as the online audience increasingly demands better and more thorough reporting.
Q. How much longer do you think you’ll be doing the job you’re doing now?
A. I am happy with where I am now. Right now, I am looking forward to earning my Master’s in Journalism at Georgetown University.