Cover the news that didn’t make the news, exposing corporate, institutional, or government corruption through your investigative video reporting. Your video product, script, article, or book writing project could carry the news that didn’t make the newspapers because of censors. Check out associations such as those who cover the news that didn’t get printed. For example, take a look at the site, “Project Censored — The News that Didn’t Make the News and Why.”
Make a video of underground news. Be an investigative video reporter and expose corruption. Be a video muckraker and raise hell. To understand muckraking video, you need to know a little about what it’s like in print.
Read Jessica Mitford’s introduction to the book, Poison Penmanship: The Gentle Art of Muckraking. Mitford’s investigative writing led to social change by inspiring and motivating the public. In 1963, she exposed the funeral industry in her book, The American Way of Death. Beneficial changes resulted. Therefore, your video surely can find subjects to explore, muckrake, and expose.
Since fewer than 20 corporations now control most of the United State’s mass media, your income potential as an independent is unlimited as long as you cover the subject of information control and how it exploits our minds. Any video on mind manipulation is sure to earn an income for you depending on repetition.
To make a successful video, you must use continuous and lasting propaganda. You must not leave any gaps. If your video lasts a long time, you can expect to gross between $20 and $40 on each video.
Expensive videos usually sell through direct mail order for $39.95. Popular mail order DVDs are priced around $19.95 to $29.95. There are low-cost documentaries and DVD movies for sale online for less—for $5 or $7, plus shipping. You can offer a video mail order distributor a commission to sell your video at their own prices. Make sure that whatever you price your video at that you make a profit and at the same time the video is cheap enough to attract enough customers who think it’s a fair price and affordable.
Do a test mailing first to find out your viewer’s opinion of the price in relation to the content. Is it really affordable by the majority of your potential market?
The rule is the lower priced the tape, the more copies it will sell. Video stores will only take it if it’s priced low enough to have high turnover, and if they can get their cut of your profit.
You could be better off with your own mail order flyer going to a list of club members interested in the subject of your video. If you charge anywhere from $19.95 to $30 to the public by direct mail order, you can expect some income from clubs, workshops, seminars, and association meetings, as well as video-of-the-month clubs. Sell your tapes at a discount during meetings and conventions.
Getting your video into stores usually means it would have to air first–either in front of a national convention of video software dealers, or on the local or public broadcast news–or run as a documentary on one of the news magazine shows on television or on cable television. Create visibility by airing your video at conventions of people interested in the subject matter of your tape.
The tape can make the national meeting rounds. Usually every month there’s a convention or conference in different cities of local chapters of various associations, clubs, or organizations interested in the subject matter of your tape. Call public speakers who travel around the country giving presentations at conventions and ask them to show your tape during the meeting or pass flyers out to the captured convention audience.
Best locale to operate your writing business
You can run your muckraking video production company from any location where there is censored news to be exposed to the public. It’s not necessary to live in any special city, but you’ll need to have rapport with the underground video and alternate media/broadcast industry as well as the standard media old boys’ network.
Being in Washington, DC will help if it is a government or a military service you plan to expose in your videos. It’s better to be near the large broadcast media firms in New York, but you have to be on the road all over to tape your investigative reports.
If you already know how to run your industrial quality camcorder, the next subject to learn is investigative reporting. You can get in touch with the Investigative Journalism Project (Fund for Constitutional Government), 122 Maryland Ave NE, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20002 (202) 546-3732, or join IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors), 100 Neff Hall, University of Missouri, School of Journalism, Columbia, MO 65211. This organization puts out enough publications to train you at home to be a great investigative reporter if only from reading what they publish–journals, newsletters, books, etc.
Read about Media Watch, Media Alliance, or the Media Institute (addresses are in the appendices at the back of this book). There are enough publications published by the media organizations (listed in the back of this book) to help make you an investigative reporter using video as your medium of expression. You also can connect to the
General aptitude or experience
Good interviewing skills are essential. You need to be a bit of a private investigator, have a willingness to expose corruption, and have an interest in finding out what’s happening that affects most people’s lives in a universal way. A journalism writing aptitude helps, or a partner who does the writing while you do the technical video work.
Muckraking videos really do dig up the dirt and expose it to the public in order to have beneficial changes made. Generally, you should really want to save the world in a small way with your video camera and have a nose for news.
You’ll need your broadcast quality field camera, tape, batteries, sound, lighting, and editing equipment, mobility, and a readiness to travel anywhere to videotape the news or expose corruption. Some taping will be in the homes of people you’ll be interviewing.
Making underground videos out of news that usually is censored each year has to be one of the most exciting ways to earn money with your video camera. To begin, first you spot important, but overlooked news in the back pages of your local newspaper–or the newspaper in some small town.
Operating your writing and video production business
Perhaps it’s news of ecological disaster. Or you want to make a video on why 12 million children go hungry in this country each day because you saw an alarming report issued by the United Nations Children’s Fund.
Perhaps you consulted the Tyndall Report, which monitors evening network news, and wondered why some reports don’t make the top ten list of news subjects on the networks during any month. Maybe you disagree and feel that your video is an important way of making sure the censored news gets to the public. Subscribing to a news clipping service or keeping news clippings on your own personal computer database helps to find subjects video worthy.
Perhaps you choose to monitor what’s happening in the sparsely-populated desert areas, finding that the military has quietly resumed biowarfare testing. For example on January 27, 1973, the Salt Lake Tribune reported such headlines as: “Army Resumes Biological Agent Test ad Dugway (Utah) After 10-Year Cessation;” and “Dugway to test disease-causing agents at remote lab” (Author: Jim Woolf).
Your investigative reporting news or feature angle
There were the headlines of September 21, 1993, “Dugway Base Cited for 22 Waste Violations,” (author: Laurie Sullivan). In the High Country News, the title appeared on September 8, 1993, “Biowarfare is Back,” (author Jon Christensen). On September 15, 1993, the High Desert Advocate ran an article with the title, “Utah Biowarfare Oversight Group Wants To Do Its Work Behind Closed Doors.”
If you kept news clippings of what was happening then in Dugway, Utah, you could have found funds from one of the video investigative reporting support groups, perhaps, or used your own low-budget to travel to the high desert area of Dugway, Utah with your video camera and talked to the people interested or involved in the matter.
Your investigative news angle would be: the U.S. Army has brought biological warfare testing back to the Dugway Proving Ground in the same western Utah location that ten years ago it claimed was not safe. The news angle is that military scientists are testing “the Biological Integrated Detection System” at the same facility the military says is now renovated. Is it? Your video would tell the news from an investigative reporting point of view, designed to expose corruption, if any exists, by interviewing experts and scientists.
The defensive weapon is supposed to detect the presence of biological agents. Your video would be about whether it works–whether it gives soldiers enough time to put on biohazard suits. The tests involved anthrax, botulism, and the plague.
To make your video, for an example, you’d have to interview Dugway representatives who would let you know in what liquid the germs were carried because the people of the town were afraid of the germs getting into the air. Doing some local history, you’d find out that the Dugway facility first closed in 1983 because of a fear that if there was an air leak in the sealed chamber, deadly germs would get into the air.
As your video progressed, you’d be able to show the viewers in exactly what ways the facility was renovated, and whether the safety precautions that exist now are enough to prevent a leak. Only experts and scientists interviewed on the video, and an up-close shot on the safety measure, could convince the public that safety was really that secure. Or is it? Would the military let you tape the renovation changes?
This is how you make your investigative videos of the news that normally doesn’t get into the big city papers
An excellent resource of the stories that could make great videos can be found in the book, Censored, The News That Didn’t Make the News and Why, Carl Jensen & Project Censored, published in 1994 by Four Walls Eight Windows, 39 West 14th St., #503, New York, NY 10011.
This excellent book contains chapters on raking muck and raising hell, U.S. censorship, and a lot of censored news that never made the news but should have. These include the biohazard story, and other news that would make excellent muckraking videos.
You even can send Project Censored interesting news you spot hidden in the back pages of your newspaper. Send your clippings to: Nomination, Project Censored, Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA 94928. Their annual deadline is October 15th. Check first to see what’s happening each year.
Producing muckraking videos and/or scripts
To make muckraking videos, you’ll have to look in small-circulation magazines and or small-town rural newspapers as well as in your local big-city news, if you live in the big town. What you’re looking for are stories you think should have received more coverage. Your video’s purpose is to give those stories the coverage they deserve.
The video you make will be designed to show the public what’s happening and why. The story should be timely and of national or global importance. If the story is significant, it’s worthy of being made into a videocassette that you can offer to a variety of audiences, including the big-time media as well as the locals.
Stories you put on tape need not have appeared in the news. It could have appeared in a trade journal. Or it could have come from a local paper, or even a tabloid–if it’s factual. It could have briefly been covered on television or overheard in a radio talk show interview.
Once you have written permission from where ever you saw it first to dig deeper into the story, find out whether it received any follow-up. If the lack of exposure is bothering the people in the news, offer to interview them on tape. Then dig deeper and interview others.
Get shots of where it happened, and ask the usual, what, who, when, where, how, and why questions. Show rather than tell on the tape. Avoid “talking head” shots that go on for minutes. Instead, cut to other scenes and do voice-overs to show movement and action.
What you’re selling in this kind of video is simply the censored news, the news that most newspapers and magazines refuse to print. You’re satisfying the public’s right to know and make beneficial changes.
Muckraking videos that emphasize the news stories that the media usually censors primarily appeal to mail-order catalog customers. You can offer your video, if it fits the 23 or 53 minute news slots, to half-hour or full-hour news programs, or to producers of specials on network television.
Your advertising usually will be in specialty magazines that appeal to readers interested in a particular subject related to your expose video. You can offer your video to nonprofit organizations related to the subject of your tape, to the government, and to schools. Or you can give seminars on the subject of your expose and sell your tape at conventions or through bookstores, club meetings, and correspondence courses.
Related video and writing opportunities: Exposing hoaxes
Expose hoaxes on video. Making videos that expose corruption is related to alternative media public relations. Any government can hire a videographer to make a propaganda film or video. The question is on whose side are you on? Pick an industry you want to expose. Medicine? Meat packing? The funeral industry? Ecological disasters related to environmental terrorists? Cover-ups?
Related video opportunities exist with the alternative broadcast media producers and organizations. Look at the variety of video direct mail order catalogs.
You can make a social issues expose video of the self-enhancement industry. Find out what corruption hasn’t been exposed yet.
Your goal is to empower the public. Show your readers or viewers why experts can be trusted. Have these experts offer solutions to common ground problems.
Expose government cover-ups with air-tight cases that even the tightest skeptics can’t disprove. Have facts that can be checked and validated by experts and scientists who have reputations for being credible. Viewers will pay what they can afford to see information they can use to make important decisions–information that may never air on the network news. Additional information to research online, for starters, would include the various trade journals and associations of interest to consumer economics communications experts, nutritionists, dieticians, and healthcare professionals.
Research data from places such as the Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy, the Association of Food and Drug Officials, and the American Farm Bureau Federation. The goal is to find the largest sources of data open to the public for research and reporting of information that most readers find in daily news reports. Then check out the public relations behind the huge research databanks and associations. For example, check out the site of the Center for Health Promotion and/ or the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. The goal is to find the best sources for your research and fact-checking.