Since I started shooting video clips of candidates early this year, the one who protested the most vociferously to being on camera was Karen Floyd, who is arguably the most telegenic candidate running for major office this year. I thought that sort of ironic. She finds being photographed at all — video or still — "just dreadful."
She has a point. The camera is intrusive, although I try to minimize that by using a very small camera sitting next to my notepad on the table. Some candidates don’t even notice it; others have trouble putting it out of their minds.
This makes me worry about polluting the process by making candidates too uncomfortable. But in some cases, I think the video clips can help readers understand a little better why we form some of the impressions we do in these interviews.
I remain torn about this, and my colleagues on the board remain leery of it. They sometimes find it distracting, too. At times in the past, I’ve talked about video-recording entire interviews — say, with gubernatorial and presidential candidates. But I’ve been talked out of it because those chats can be tense and difficult enough without people playing to a camera — we want the candidates’ undivided attention, and we want to give them ours.
It also makes going off the record — a far more useful tool to editorial writers than to reporters, since we don’t want quotes as much as we want to know what is really on people’s minds — rather awkward. When they are on camera, candidates are unlikely even to suggest going off the record, and we might never even know there was something else we could have learned.
Anyway, this is an experiment — sort of dipping our toe in the video waters — and we’re still evaluating its pros and cons. I’d be interested in your thoughts on that.