Phil Chetwynd
Credit: AFP's Phil Chetwynd speaking at the World News Media Congress (Credit: Wan-Ifra)

The ability to produce video packages is one of the most important skills a journalist can have, according to Phil Chetwynd, global editor-in-chief at AFP.

Speaking at the World News Media Congress yesterday, Chetwynd noted how new developments in technology are reshaping the skillset required of journalists.

"Budget managers still dream of some multitasking robo-journalist capable of single-handedly, simultaneously producing content across platforms," he said.

"We [AFP] aren't there, and we're not aiming to be. But at the same time, already the level of skill... is evolving quite rapidly."

Despite the output of video content from AFP text journalists and photographers – 2,300 in the last year – the volume of videos generated by AFP's standalone video service is still "much larger," Chetwynd said.

However, journalists who are able to shoot and edit video are likely to be sent to report on bigger, more important stories.

"It is now expected that if there's one slot on a police helicopter... that journalist must be able to shoot video and write," said Chetwynd.

"If we're going to send a reporter on a long features trip to Everest base camp in Nepal, it's essential that that person can shoot video to illustrate their stories."

This flexibility in skills is more necessary than ever due to the varied nature of the platforms and formats journalists are now expected to cover.

An AFP journalist working on one story could easily be expected to produce a blog post, a story for the outlet's wire service and a TV or radio interview for a media client.

The evolution of journalism skills is due, at least in part, to a "younger, technology-savvy generation, a lot more training, and also a great deal of natural enthusiasm".

As well as adding an extra dimension to a story, video is also a more engaging and sharable storytelling feature on social media.

Facebook's algorithm is now heavily weighted towards posts that feature native video, for example.

As such, many publishers, including the BBC and the Guardian, are ensuring their journalists are equipped to produce video in their reporting where possible.

"Many of our bureau chiefs now spend as much time hunting for an apartment for a live video up-link or searching for satellite [signals] as actually writing the story," said Chetwynd.

However, the new skills journalists may be expected to learn are by no means limited to video. In some cases, AFP photographers have even learned to scuba dive to capture the footage they need.

  • Video skills and production for journalists will be a major part of's upcoming news:rewired digital journalism conference, to be held at MSN UK in London on Thursday 16 July. There will also be a full day of training available on mobile journalism skills on Friday 17 July. Find out more on the news:rewired website.

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