To digital journalists: learning video grammar as important as English grammar

Reporter notebook/pen? Check.

iPhone/iPad/Laptop? (Which double as a digital audio recorder and HD video recorder.) Check.

Pocket dictionary/thesaurus? Check.

A thorough understanding of video grammar to “acquire” the video shots needed to enhance a news event, conduct an on-camera interview or document breaking news for print story enhancement, broadcast and web video?  As they say in television, “Stand by please…”

Being a converged journalist means different things to different people. For some it means,  “I can tweet that.” Or “post” that on Facebook. For others, it means one story shared or linked across multiple traditional and new media platforms.

For me, it means today’s digital journalist must go back to school to learn a whole new language of video grammar to enhance their storytelling skills. In today’s world of new media-based content delivery that includes (some say demands) video, journalist must now become fluent in video grammar.

Some journalists have embraced shooting video like a second language, for others it’s like struggling to learn a foreign language.

According to Wikipedia, Grammar is a set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases and words in any given natural language.”  Given that definition, my definition of video grammar is a set of structural rules that govern the acquisition and composition of shots, types of shots and sequences of shots to visually enhance language. Indeed, video in it’s most effective form – and if acquired using correct technique – is the ultimate storytelling enhancement.

With digital technologies now allowing video cameras of all shapes and sizes to be used, from big (and heavy!) traditional broadcast cameras, to iPhones that shoot full HD video, there’s no excuse for today’s converged journalist not to shoot grammatically perfect video on every story.

NEXT TIME: Video Grammar 101 – The Basics

Tim McCarty is an Emmy award-winning videographer with over 25-years experience. Currently, he is co-chair of the Journalism & Digital Media department at Ashland University. Reach him by email at

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