Portland Members Add Video Editing to Their Skill Set

September 28, 2012

At first, the offer was a bit confusing to managers at Maine’s Portland Press Herald: Why would the Guild and its parent union, CWA, provide state-of-the-art video editing classes, for free, to reporters, photographers and other employees?

“What does the union get out of it?” one boss asked local President Tom Bell, who began floating the project a year ago. It may have been more curiosity than cynicism – after all the Portland Guild literally helped save the newspaper earlier this year.

In effect, Bell told him that what’s good for the company is good for the union. As online videos become a bigger part of the paper’s news coverage, MaineToday Media stood to gain 10 workers with highly coveted skills.

The company soon realized what a good deal it was and jumped on board “100 percent,” said photographer and Guild member Greg Rec, who helped coordinate the project. Managers made a room available, adjusted schedules, backfilled positions and made it possible for most of the 10 trainees to take the classes during work time, Rec said.

The training is offered through the CWA/NETT Academy, paid for through the union’s Strategic Industry Fund – no charge to members or employers. The goal is to help members build skills that make them indispensable to their employers, and give them opportunities for promotion.

“The companies invest in the technology and we help invest in the people,” said Kevin Celeta, CWA’s training administrator.

The academy provides a host of courses, but especially popular for NABET-CWA members, and now NewsGuild members, is the Final Cut Pro video editing class.

In Portland, five photographers, three online producers, a copy editor and a reporter – Bell -- took the course. They were the first CWA/NETT class to learn Final Cut Pro X (version 10, the latest.

“Everyone loved it,” Rec said. “They all felt confident at the end of the week that they could take video clips that someone shot on a camera or phone and produce a piece out of it, and that’s exactly what the company was looking for.”

Instructor Jim Talluto, a retired CBS video editor, got high marks for explaining things thoroughly and making the class entertaining. “We were all a little disappointed when it was over and we had to go back to our regular jobs,” Bell quipped. He and the other students each produced videos about Civil War re-enactors, creatively blending raw footage with sound effects and music.

Julie McCue, an online content producer, wrote a testimonial about the course, noting that she’d occasionally “been called on to edit a video (and) the results weren’t pretty.”

She was surprised to discover how much she liked the class, and how much she learned. “The best thing about the class was not just that it got us familiar with the program and had us editing video with many different techniques, but it was so much fun,” she said.


If your local is interested in CWA/NETT training, contact Guild Secretary-Treasurer Carol Rothman at crothman@cwa-union.org.