Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

Walter Biscardi “As has been reported recently, CNN laid off 50 staffers, primarily videographers and editors.   Why?   Essentially after a three year internal review, CNN has determined that professional editors are not necessary to craft news stories any longer.   Instead they are expanding their iReport section allowing for more user generated content to be provided to the network, at absolutely zero cost to the network.

I have to have to say, this is the first time I’ve seen a broadcaster literally coming out and saying we’re going to replace professionals with consumers and hobbyists. They save the salaries of 50 professionals and get all sorts of free content, no matter how it’s shot or edited with no regard for sound or video quality. Kind of ironic to see this push to the lowest common denominator at the same time that so many editors are discovering the joys of high end color correction tools.”

You can read the full story at :

This is a very chilling story especially when you can bet the bean counters over here in the UK will be watching this story with great interest.

Television news in its basic form is someone passing on some information with the odd video thrown in for good measure so why do I care ?

I care because my craft is being eroded by shareholders and bean counters who could not care less what rubbish you see on your televisions as long as the bottom line is saving money. Many a poor decision has been taken with shareholders in mind.

British television news has always been at the forefront of innovative yet interesting formats the best in my mind is still the national BBC news network with Sky news coming a close second.

We still get on the whole well produced news items filmed by experienced camera men/women and edited usually by the news staff reporters themselves. Its all cuts and the reporters are taught how to do simple editing with the more involved story being cut by an editor.

VJs or Video Journalists as they are known by are staff reporters who turn up to a news story with a semi professional camcorder and produce simple point and shoot news story’s, sadly this has also meant laying off cameramen and women and using less freelancers for daily news.

To go down the CNN road is to completely rip the heart out of a newsroom by using amateur footage full stop…anyone can work for zero and you can be well assured that the free footage producers for CNN will get sick of working for nothing after a while or worse still produce utter rubbish because their enthusiasm has diminished.

People eventually click that big companies are taking the rip and I think CNN will 100% live to regret this unprofessional move towards free TV news input.

As news watchers we accept the odd news story with amateur footage usually filmed on a mobile phone but could you imaging everything filmed at that quality !

Newspapers are always looking for free content from their readers for their web sites but their is a marked difference in standards between web news and television news.

This is part of Scottish Televisions local news input via the web it’s more like a community news port with some footage shot locally by the web providers, not as professional as the main news coverage that STV provides but it keeps someone in a job.

People are savvy creatures they may not be television producers but they know when they are being short changed and amateur footage shines through like a sore thumb, lest we forget ratings why would Ted Turner forgo the all important ratings just to save a few bucks in peoples wages, this news is a sad day for world television news and even sadder for those professionals who after many years service lose their highly skilled jobs to a bunch of amateurs it beggars belief.

Just in case you have some smashing FREE footage that you want to get rid of then Final Cut Pro 10 has the answer , (I knew FCP-10 was useful for something) the drop down panel under sharing you have surprise, surprise an option called iReport so you can see CNN were thinking of this move well over a year ago.

Fortunately for us in the UK the BBC should remain relatively free from the amateur poking their nose into television news reporting but you do have to keep an eye on companies like CNN who seem to think they have the perfect solution to the wage-less news room when it will fall flat on their face in years to come and a legacy they will certainly not be proud of.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

2 thoughts on “CNN lay off 50 staffers for FREE content by non professionals

  1. CNN was already a marginal news source anyway and you couldn’t trust there stories. This just cements it.

  2. TBH i never liked CNN. Hedline news look like shot by ameteur, for a quite some time now. From Chicken Noodle Network To Global Media Power, and back to Chicken Noodle Network.

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