Interview with Kevin Reilly – Video Producer
Journalism is a changing field with many possible avenues for future journalists to explore. Take Kevin Reilly, for example, a graduate from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, is an active freelance videographer with an impressive resume and a few tips and pointers for those considering earning a degree in this industry. Take a few minutes to read about Kevin’s experiences around the world and how we found his true passion behind the lens.
- What is your background in journalism? Please start by telling us about what experience you have in the journalism profession.
- Why did you decide to pursue a career in this field?
- What interests you most about journalism?
- Are there any drawbacks, if any, to working in this field?
- What skills do you consider to be essential to work in this industry?
- What should prospective students keep in mind when researching journalism programs?
- How has the journalism field changed since you first became interested in working as a videographer? In other words, how do you think journalism is transforming?
- Where do you think journalism is heading in today’s digital world?
- Do you have any advice for students interested in studying journalism?
- And something fun: Tell us about your favorite, or most memorable, experience so far as a videographer.
1. What is your background in journalism? Please start by telling us about what experience you have in the journalism profession.
I have been working as a video producer for nearly two years. I have produced two health and food web series for Rodale Publishing (Men’s Health, Women’s Health, etc.). The first show I produced was “The Bacon Show.” I had three-man crew, including two videographers and a sound person. The show, as the title implies, focused on all things bacon. Each episode entailed finding a new bacon dish from a different part of the country. As the producer, I was responsible for everything, from finding the different locations and dishes to overseeing the final edit. Before I entered graduate school, I worked as a freelance reporter for a small-town paper.
I love telling stories about people. The world around is fascinating and everyone has a story. Journalism is capturing people’s histories and documenting them for future generations to have. Before I became a journalist, I traveled whenever I could. On one trip, I spent four months volunteering in Nairobi, Kenya. A midst all the desolation, I came across two men running a medical clinic. It was barely hanging on. Patients were charged whatever they could afford, which at times was pennies. But, the clinic went on. It was there that I decided to pursue a career in journalism. I felt a need to tell people stories like the one of a tiny medical clinic in the middle of 200,000-person slum.
Journalism requires a story to be both factual and interesting. Putting those two elements together becomes an incredible challenge. Fiction stories might rely on a great narrative, but at best it is only based upon the truth. Facts by themselves may be nothing more than material for sleep deprivation. But, journalism finds a way to make both work together. A journalist can’t tell a person what to say or do, he can only capture it. But, it’s that integrity that I love about the field.
The hours can be long and the field is extremely competitive. I have spent countless nights editing video to make a deadline. Sometimes you will have to sacrifice a normal life in order to the story done. As the field of journalism evolves, there will always be someone who wants your job. So there is no time for slacking.
To work in journalism you need a tough skin. You will fail and you fail again. If you have the ability to quickly access a failure and correct it, rather than dwelling on the direness of a problem, than you are heading in the right direction.
Journalism is in a state of flux. Older institutions with long histories may soon be as irrelevant if they refuse to stay ahead of changing technologies. Prospective students should know whether an institution is adapting how they teach to relevant new technologies. Are the computers new? Is the equipment state-of-the-art? How knowledgeable are the instructors about what is new and useful? No one will be able to stay completely ahead of the curve, but if a school laughs at the idea that journalism is changing and no one has the answer, time to walk away.
7. How has the journalism field changed since you first became interested in working as a videographer? In other words, how do you think journalism is transforming?
Camera technology is always changing, whether you are talking about the power of an iPhone or whether DSLRs are a good investment. Since I first picked up a camera there have been huge advances in citizen journalists capturing images. But, an iPhone may have an incredible light sensor, but if you don’t know how to frame a shot horizontally, you’ll still get a crappy vertical video.
Equipment is getting faster, lighter, and cheaper. This gives many people the ability to make video. But, crafting a story is an art form that journalism perfects.
Make sure your heart is in it. This isn’t a job to pursue because you think it’s cool (though it is). The prospects for the field are changing and tightening every day. You have to really want this.
10. And something fun: Tell us about your favorite, or most memorable, experience so far as a videographer
I once produced a web series called “The Bacon Show.” We were in Portland, Oregon filming an episode at a place called Voodoo Donuts. The owner of a shop, Cat Daddy, and the host were sharing maple bacon donuts when the owner of a brewery stopped in with bacon beer. We all got to try these crazy foods in a funky shop in Portland. And we got paid to do it.
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