Matt, I'm a subscriber of Videomaker for many years now. I'm still very active making videos. I belong to LIMM video club (Long Island Movie Makers) and won first prize last June 06 for our video contest.
What you said in your editorial hit it right on the head, (Viewfinder, June 2007.) I feel most people don't realize the amount of work in making a video, even with a computer. In fact, it takes longer to me because of all the editing choices one can make to satisfy his or her striving to make it the best video yet.
Even if 4 people show up at one of our monthly meetings and they clap for my work, I feel on top of the world.
You have said what I feel about our work so well. Bravo!
Grow a Backbone
As a newbie documentarian, I bought your May 2007 issue looking for useful information. I'm afraid you publish a simply terrible magazine, and that's a shame.
The tip-off comes with the matching front-cover/back-cover promoting the JVC HD-200. This disturbing pairing of advertising and editorial undermines any attempt you may be making at objectivity. The flaccid gee-whiz-what-a-great-camera review confirms your lack of editorial independence.
Surely some of your reviewers must've had a negative thought about a piece of equipment described in your pages. Surely someone had a preference between similar products that might be helpful to your readers.
A good example is the closing sentence in All Things HDV Buyer's Guide: "Always keep your needs in mind when choosing a camcorder. Happy shooting." Do you imagine that's useful to anyone besides your ad salesman?
The concept behind journalism is simple, but you clearly don't know it: If you provide a valuable service to your reader by actually helping with an honest appraisal, you will have a loyal reader. Loyal readers are more attractive to advertisers. Advertisers will value your opinion of their products and seek to improve those products for the benefit of their customers, your readers. It's a win-win.
Please grow a backbone. Otherwise, there's no reason to buy Videomaker.
Stephen Kling, Avenging Angels
New York City
Dear Mr. Kling, Thank you for your opinion and explaining to us how the magazine industry works. In the 20-plus years we've been publishing, we may have never come across this unique idea called "objectivity" without your insightful letter. We will certainly use this radical new concept in all our forthcoming reviews. Rest assured, we will also look into this "backbone" idea as well...
In all seriousness, we do appreciate your comments. However forceful your words, taking the time to write us about your concerns shows an interest in making Videomaker Magazine a better publication, which is something we can all get behind. Now to your concerns:
As you pointed out, the May 2007 issue has a glowing review of the JVC HD-200 camcorder. Our reviewer is very meticulous and detailed, the camera was put through its paces and we stand by our review. It's a great camera. However, we did also mention what we didn't like about this camcorder in the article. The JVC ad on the back cover was simply part of their promotion of ProHD that had been ongoing for many months on the back of our magazine and those of our competitors.
As for the ugly accusation of dishonesty in our reviews, that's something we simply cannot let pass. The Editorial staff members at Videomaker always keep our reviews honest and fair, regardless of the advertisers. We have, in fact, dropped some advertisers that we felt made claims that weren't honest to our readers.
Our advertisers understand that we keep our standards high, and in our editorial department, it is the reader first, before the advertiser, and they stick with us because of our high standards. We hope you will, too.
- The Editors
Teaching Kids the Right Way
I recall reading one of Mr. York's Viewfinder editorials this past year in which he decried the quality of videos being produced by young people these days-as evidenced by what one sees on YouTube and similar sites. I entirely agree. After working 24 years in local broadcasting in Virginia and Tennessee, I took over the Film and TV program at Jenks High School in Oklahoma three years ago.
Prior to my coming on board, the students had been producing YouTube-style work. We purchased some new equipment and started from scratch to take things in a new direction. I thought you might be interested in seeing the results. Here's the link to our website: www.jpscinema.com.
We are also about to premiere a program on Oklahoma's statewide educational network. Behind the Lens with Oklahoma's Future Filmmakers is the first entirely high-school-originated program in at least 19 years to air on statewide TV in Oklahoma.
Jenks High School Film & TV teacher