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EDITIONS
Monday, 16 September, 2002, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
News staff take on tech skills
F-16 warplane, AP
Action against Iraq: Next challenge for broadcasters

The high cost of covering international events has meant that broadcasters are increasingly relying on multi-skilled staff that can deliver stories, pictures and technical know-how, a top news executive has said.

The new breed of reporters and technicians are smarter, skilled across the board and can work in the various forms of media, said CNN International President Chris Cramer.

Radio, TV and web journalists work alongside each other at CNN, he told the International Broadcast Convention in Amsterdam, Europe's biggest media trade fair.

He highlighted one member of staff who besides reporting stories can also fix the telecom links.

News from anywhere

In a year when journalists have increasingly been regarded as "legitimate targets" in conflict zones, journalism has however prospered, he explained.


We will be constrained only by access and physics in terms of what we can get down a videophone

Chris Cramer, CNN
This has often been as a result of skilled staff working under difficult conditions using frontier technology, like videophones.

The raw blurry images have added an immediacy that would be impossible, even if there had been the funds for shipping the tonnes of equipment that full broadcast quality requires.

The new portable technology has allowed video reports to be filed from locations which were previously impossible.

The next challenge for journalists seems likely to be coverage of action against Iraq.

"We will be constrained only by access and physics in terms of what we can get down a videophone," said Mr Cramer.

Online news

There is a downside to technology and the new ability to file from almost anywhere.

Chris Cramer of CNN
Cramer: Need to explain world events
He told the conference that the race to be first in the 24 hour news environment has been at the cost of accuracy and a rise in speculation.

There is also less time to make editorial judgements when pictures can be live, on-air and already history in the making.

One particular development he noted was the democratisation and liberated nature of news brought to the world by websites that push and pull news from the street, at grassroots level.

These sources are unconventional but are often first with the news.

Changing priorities

What has emerged since the attack on America last year, he said, was a realisation that correspondents and reporters perceive a sort of civic duty to explain the world to an ill-prepared USA.

News chiefs have now taken stock after 11 September and decided that there is a need to explain world events, he said.

Mini-news bureaux have become very important, he believed.

With minimal staff, basic equipment and a videophone they are delivering the sort of news, depth and detail that journalists parachuted into a story clutching a few news-clippings fail to deliver.

See also:

20 Nov 01 | Entertainment
13 Sep 02 | Entertainment
13 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
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