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The Rife Team

Recap: ‘How To Be A Video Journalist’ With Dekan Apajee

Dekan Apajee delivering a masterclass for Rife Magazine

Photo: Jess Connett

Last week, the very awesome and (experienced), Dekan Apajee, a veteran in the field of journalism came down to Rife Magazine to deliver a masterclass on how to ace the video side of journalism. Sham’s put all Dekan had to say for us in a little summary.

Dekan: a producer, a broadcast journalist for TV, radio and online. He’s also, a director, a writer and believe me, the list does go on.

He got the class flying right off the hit of the bat by asking us: ‘What does video journalism mean?’,
and of course he made sure we were fully confident in our answers (he often made us question ourselves!)

Here are some of the things Dekan whacked in into the formula of things to consider when thinking
about or making/telling an awesome story through video journalism:

1. TIME WAITS FOR NO MAN (or Woman….or child)

Gif from Parks and Recreation: time is money, money is power, power is pizza, and pizza is knowledge

source: wigglegif.tumblr.com

This doesn’t mean that you should ever rush your piece, unless you are racing a deadline or trying to jump onto a hot trend… but that’s a different story (get it?).

‘A good story, is a good story’

You shouldn’t ever wait till the right moment to report, shoot and edit…don’t wait for that 2160P HD camera, just get out there and do it young buck.

2. The audience is always number one

From the movie, the help: "You is kind, You is smart. you is important"

Source: me-inpassing.tumblr.com

  • Who is your audience?
  • Why are you the one to tell your story?
  • Are you being impartial?
  • Is what is newsworthy to you, newsworthy to them?
  • What is trending?

Dekan asks you to constantly think about these pointers when working on or researching a story.

Always keep on your toes, and make your story unique in comparison to the others out there, show exclusivity, show conflict and show something they have not seen before.

3. K.I.S.S.

It’s not what you think. Unless what you’re thinking is: ‘Keep It Short and Simple’ which is completely correct, then all is swell.

A cartoon shrimp picture captioned: "keep it shrimple stupid"

source: dro72.tumblr.com

Dekan emphasised that everything should be simple and tidy. From structuring, to pitching and to delivering.

Have a nice angle on your subject/topic and then just focus.

The information said should flow easily and not be too difficult to grasp for your audience, do not confuse yourself or anyone else for that matter too.


Always study your story. Know what you are getting into.

Jack Sparrow "I understand everything"

Source: ooosaysaysay.tumblr.com

 Never ever go into anything without researching

For the sake of your safety, for the sake of getting a good story and for the sake of not looking like an ignoramus (which would bring me back to the point of safety), pretty please, do your research.

It ensures you deliver your story in a factual way; which makes you a reliable source to the people and it makes your job easier in areas such as planning and efficiency.

5. You are Human

Dude/dudette, you will always be your biggest critique.

lion hugging man and telling him he is flawless and loves him

source: imgur.com

‘There will always be something you want to change, to you it won’t be perfect, but that’s normal’

With your work, there will be many instances where it just doesn’t seem right to you. That doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be out there for the public to see.

It’s okay to talk to people for feedback, collaboration plans, ideas and general input. It’s cool.

Don’t forget to cut yourself some slack. Just make sure your piece is of  good quality and you are set to go!

6. Gear

From microphones, to HD cameras and all that jazz, it’s nice to have and all, but Dekan let us into a little secret (you don’t have to own all that).

Keanu Reeves as Neo in the matrix: standing next to a large inventory of weapons for the final action scene in the movie.

source: http://cdn.vanillaforums.com

If you have a smartphone, you pretty much already have most of the equipment you need.

Most smartphones in the right hands are more than capable tools that act near enough perfectly as cameras, microphones and more.

Don’t worry about being all fancy. Just make sure your audience can see and hear and your story is clear and interesting, then you my dear sir/lady are all good.

Little Ryan has also got his tips and tricks on this, straight from his film school, check it out here.


In audio vs video in journalism, audio wins.

Jeffery from Fresh Prince Of Bel Air panicking with a phone shouting: "How do you work this bloody thing?"

source: freshprincesubs.tumblr.com

Although video journalism is called video journalism, audio should still be a priority. Your story can be delivered through sound, in areas where your video can’t.

If an area is inaccessible for example, film some cutaways and get the voiceover on the go!

(Oh, and if your video is not looking too great, fear not! Keep the audio sweet and the audience will be generally forgiving.)

8. Getting Your Story Out There

There are many places you can utilise to make sure your story is in the spotlight.

Emma Stone in Easy A strutting her stuff like a boss while the high school is in awe

source: gurl.tumblr.com

Obviously hit your social medias up (annoy your friends and groups), send some e-mails to news outlets
(small or big) and production companies too. You’ll be surprised at how far you can go.

You have now graduated and passed the first step of video journalism, you are now equipped for the masters of getting out there out doing it. Gather up that courage and go wild.

Justin Bieber mesmerised by his graduation cap

source: ariellevincit0ri.tumblr.com

Feeling pretty awesome now right? You know what you should do? You should pitch an idea to Rife Magazine and you, yes you could be an (even more) awesome video journalist (or writer) before you can say: Rife Magazine backwards. It’ll look great on your CV and is also a brilliant way to voice your opinions, thoughts or even share some cool news and stories. Don’t forget that it is also a good way to get out there.

Want to hear more from Dekan Apajee? Follow him on Twitter

This masterclass was brought to you by Rife in partnership with the brilliant Ideastap, who are an arts charity that helps creative people get to where they want to be.  They work with leading arts organisations to create industry opportunities for their members as well as providing access to funding, competitions, jobs, training and advice.

Since launching in December 2008, IdeasTap has awarded more than £1.8 million worth of direct funding and accompanying expert mentoring to emerging artists. Pretty cool…

Oh, oh, guys and girls, before you leave here’s some links you might be interested in: