By Boyana Draganova
Following the protests in countries like Tunisia and more recently, in Egypt, it became clearer that regular news reporting is not enough to cover the whole story.
In those cases, websites like Twitter and Facebook took over as the main outlets for updates and opinions on the unfolding events, rather than the local or foreign media.
It became apparent that more input is needed from those who are in the thick of it, so that journalists can project as many viewpoints on the issue as possible.
This is precisely what the Video Journalism Movement is about as its motto effectively explains: “There is more than one truth”.
The VJ Movement is a collaborative mission of 150 professional video journalists and cartoonists from all over the world.
The unique thing about it is that all web users can join for free and pitch their ideas as to which issues should be reported on and share their perspectives on finished projects.
That way any active member of the public can take part in the reshaping of the news agenda.
In time, the movement is hoping to receive most of its funding from the public, although at the moment important benefactors include the Foundation for Democracy and Media, Media Development Loan Fund and Stimuleringsfonds voor de Pers.
The viewing of the website’s content is absolutely free and any professional journalist with over 3 years of full-time reporting experience can apply with the VJM editors as a correspondent.
The projects themselves are undertaken by real experts in VJ reporting covering a range of current issues from children growing up in Bolivian jails to villages becoming deserted due to the growing number of people migrating to the bigger cities.
Apart from the video project itself you can also read all the users’ pitches on why the issue came to be reported in the first place as well as relevant cartoons helping you see an interpretation of the problem from the eyes of an artist.
Press Play 4 News reporter, Boyana Draganova, talked with the editor Latin America at the VJ Movement, Paul Scheltus, who was so kind as to answer a couple of questions on the organization and its work. Here is the interview:
1) You say that the VJM mission is “There is more than one truth”. Are you therefore advocating that journalism should be more subjective, or that it should offer different objective perspectives?
What we aim to do is show our audience is that first impressions can often be mistaken and that depending on where you stand in a story, your perspective changes. We try to show stories through a different lens than the one our audience may be accustomed to.
2) You explain it clearly on your website how viewers and prospective journalists can contribute to the VJM, but do you also train less experienced journalists into video reporting?
The VJ Movement Foundation, which is separate from the VJ Movement business, organizes video journalism training for reporters who work in an environment where press freedom is under threat.
3) How do the video journalists collaborate with the cartoonists on a project?
The video journalists and cartoonists exchange ideas on the VJ Movement platform in the form of comments, pitches and votes.
4) Where is your organization based and how do you work with journalists from so many different countries?
We are based in The Netherlands. We do everything online via ftp, skype and email. Thanks to a small team of multi-lingual editors we are able to work with journalists in at least four languages. On a good day some of us can even squeeze out some German.
5) What gave you the idea of collaborating video reporting with the art of making cartoons?
Basically, it was all a big coincidence. VJ Movement suddenly found itself with a talented cartoonist – Tjeerd Royaards – in our midst who suggested building a global network of cartoonists, because no such thing existed. The reaction was, why not? And so the cartoon part began. The cartoonists responded so well, that Tjeerd soon created a separate site for them, http://www.cartoonmovement.com. The cartoons are a great complement to the videos and vice-versa. Both our engaging visually and that’s what makes them so appealing online.
Don’t forget that you can decide which stories are produced into video reports or cartoons by ‘liking’ the pitches you find most news worthy!
So, go ahead and ‘like’ your way into online video news reporting!