Anyone pick up on this?  As all media trends towards one-man bands, it's a reminder of costs -- in multiple senses... J

ABC Phones-In The News With Skype
Business Insider's The Wire
Steve Rosenbaum,
August 17, 2010
ABC World News with Diane Sawyer began an experiment some weeks ago. The show started using Skype to conduct and record phone interviews in remote places where a crew simply couldn't be deployed.
The revelation was simply this: When a TV crew comes to your house from ABC, you appear on national TV and look good. They pick the shot, they have you comb your hair. You sit up straight. On the other hand, when you're hunched over your computer keyboard talking to a webcam, well, let's just say it looks a bit more homemade. The video quality on the remote side of the interview was often blurry, and the backgrounds behind the subjects were often the walls of bedrooms or home offices.
Nevertheless, it seemed like an innovation at first. But the practice has slowly spread from geographically distant interviews to ABC doing Skype calls with subjects and experts literally right around the corner. Perhaps ABC anchors like Sawyer other other correspondents have just become too comfortable doing phoners rather than the schlepping somewhere to do an in-person interview,
For instance, on July 14, Dan Harris did a phone/Skype interview with doctors at New YorkCK Presbyterian Hospital, just blocks away from ABC's studios, just east of Lincoln Center. Harris quizzed Dr. Michael Argenziano about Dick Cheney's heart LVAD (Left Ventricle Assist Device.) Given that Harris was a matter of minutes from Argenzaino's Upper West Side office, it seems to suggest that Skype interviews are going to be used for a lot more than just breaking stories or chatting with long-distance, hard to reach subjects.
ABC is even using Skype to interview even its paid "expert consultants," like John Nance (the air travel expert) or Brad Garrett, (the former FBI agent who now is an expert on crime and justice). So it seems clear this isn't about getting quickly breaking news interviews on the air. It's about costs. Dramatically lower costs. While a Skype video call costs nothing if dialed Skype to Skype, a satellite truck and crew deployed to a news subject can cost upwards of $2,500 a day, and that's before you fly or drive in the correspondent and cover their costs, travel, and per-diems. So, dial-in journalism with DIY web calls certainly makes economic sense.
But what do we lose?
Well, first of all, quality. Video quality is terrible and given the fact that many Americans have just upgraded to big flat screen HDTV's, and that Network TV is setting quality over quantity in its attempt to add value that cable news can't theoretically compete with, going to grainy web cams seems a bit like inviting viewers to turn away. Any chance that Skype with deliver HD video without the Max Headroom jump cuts? Not anytime soon.
But there's really something else in the mix here: reporting. Because anyone who's done an interview in person knows you actually learn things, and are able to dig deeper and explore ideas in a way that a phone call simply doesn't allow. For ABC, the phone and Skype device turns interviews into quote collection exercises, and turns their historically mobile on-the-ground correspondents into desk-bound phone jockeys.
At a time when the media is increasingly self referential, and stories like the Jet Blue flight attendant "folk hero" take off with little or no original reporting, ABC News' decision to ground its fleet of correspondents and turn them into a team of journalist/telemarketers threatens to further erode what's left of TV journalism.

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