May 2019 Newsletter
DIY B-Roll

There used to be a time you had to hire videographers for simple b-roll (the video clips you see with a voice-over). No more. Cameras on many new smartphones are so good, you can do it yourself and increase your odds of making news or helping reporters tell the full story.

How to shoot it? 

To get an idea of what works for b-roll, watch some news stories. Specifically, look at how they set up the visuals for the story and how much b-roll is used. Most b-roll footage is three to five seconds long, and there are several shots in each piece. Some are close-ups, some are wide shots. When filming, get more than you can use, then pick the best shots.

We're using the iPhone XR (no, this isn't a native ad!) to shoot and string together various shots. The iMovie app makes this as easy as simply selecting the videos in the order you want them to appear. Remember: always shoot horizontal videos and check sound levels to make them consistent.

Here's an example of b-roll we shot that wound up in this NBC 4 NY news story. And, outlets like New York 1 News and 1010 WINS used  footage and photos we shot of a German freight car being delivered to the Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. Also, our footage of the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation's Runyon 5K (which we shot and uploaded a previous year to have ready for pitches this spring!) was used in a PIX 11 segment.

How to distribute it?

If you have an event and there are TV and online outlets that don't show up (maybe you forgot to invite them or maybe they couldn't make it), you can share your by:
  • Sending it to individual outlets and stations with a short press release describing the event. We used this method for the museum example above. (Send the video via Dropbox or another file sharing program, never as an attachment.) 
  • Follow up to pitch an individual story with a single reporter and have the b-roll ready so they can have more colorful footage to tell the story. That is what we did for the credit union story above.
Here are some additional helpful tips from EditMate:
  • Variety is key. Shoot wide shots, close-ups, low angles, time lapses, bird's eye view... as many interesting shots as possible.
  • Move around! Don't just stick with static shots... panning shots help the pace of your project.
  • Capture the details. Close up shots of relevant objects can illustrate important details in an environment or situation that can help you tell the story.
  • If you're shooting an interview, be sure to shoot b-roll of the person you are interviewing. Alternating from the talking-head interview to a voice-over with footage of the person going about their business not only makes things more interesting but it can help connect your audience with your subject.
  • Shoot entrances and exits of the location you're shooting. This can help add context to a video. If you're following a subject, let them enter and exit the frame without following them with the camera.
  • Get b-roll on location AFTER an interview, too. You'll know what topics are covered in the interview and can be more strategic in capturing relevant footage. For example, if a man mentions his partner and kids - be sure to get shots of his family or get footage of their family photos.
We're Hiring! Do great work for great nonprofits!

Anat Gerstein, Inc.,  recognized as one of the top communications firms  specializing in serving nonprofits, is seeking a communications and public relations professional with seven to ten years of experience to work with some of New York City's top nonprofit organizations.
We seek a creative, high-energy individual with a track record of creating and executing winning communications campaigns that help organizations achieve their goals. Candidates must be excellent writers, big thinkers, ideas generators, news junkies, skilled presenters, good people managers, and have extensive experience with traditional media, including wide contacts and a track record of placing stories.

Check out the full job post here - and we invite you to share with anyone who may be interested in applying.

Pitching Notes:
Jere Hester
Editor in Chief

What is THE CITY?

We're a new, independent nonprofit news outlet dedicated to hard-hitting reporting that serves the people of New York. We're here to listen to people's concerns, dig into them and deliver strong stories.

Any worry about confusion with the City of New York?

No worry on our end - maybe you should ask the mayor what he thinks. Just kidding - the moniker is a good conversation-starter (ditto for our masthead mascot, Nellie the pigeon ). We have a sense of humor about the possible confusion, but we also see our name as a strong statement on who we are and our goal of serving our city through sharp local journalism.

Who did you recruit?

I've been incredibly blessed to hire 17 journalists whose previous gigs have included The Daily News, the New York - and Washington - Posts, WNYC, NY1, ProPublica, DNAinfo and The New York Times, among other places. We've got a great mix of folks on various levels, including experience. Some are in the early stages of their careers, other have been doing this for a while - among them Greg Smith, Alyssa Katz, Jose Martinez, and Hasani Gittens, to name a few.

What type of stories interest you? Which ones don't?

We ask ourselves on every story we tackle: How is what we're reporting affecting or potentially affecting people's lives? Our people-focused accountability reporting has led us to a pretty wide variety of stories that includes examining government spending, delivering on promises, and the many challenges facing New Yorkers.

When a CITY reporter calls a nonprofit, given the thrust of your coverage, should they be worried?

No. We have no agenda beyond our mission statement.

Tell us about you. Why did you want this job?

The boring part: all about me. I was born in Brooklyn, where I've lived my whole life (I obviously don't get around much). I've been steeped in local news ever since I can remember, and started honing the craft in college as an intern for some local papers that included The Westsider, The Chelsea Clinton News and what's now Downtown Express. I latched on as a staff reporter at The Express and eventually became the editor. I worked for nearly 15 years at the Daily News, starting as a staff reporter and ending up as city editor. I left in 2006 to start the NYCity News Service at what is now the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. I was lucky enough to work at the Daily News, which was my father's paper, and CUNY, which was my mother's school. Now I have an opportunity to play a role in building a new institution that aims to serve New Yorkers at a time when more local news is very much needed.

What impact do you hope to have?

We want to help drive the civic conversation, drive media coverage and drive action. We want to connect (or reconnect) New Yorkers to local news via coverage where they see their concerns reflected - or at least get valuable insight and useful information about navigating life in the city.

We ask everyone this. Give us some advice on how to pitch THE CITY.

Check out our site. We're looking for stories that both seem in our wheelhouse and are likely to tell us something we don't know. Concise, to-the-point email text and subject lines - especially the subject line - will help the cause.

What is your biggest pet peeve about the way people pitch you stories.

Basically the opposite of the above: stories we'll never be interested in, with cutesy, teasing subject lines and flabby, meandering body text.

How can people get in touch with you to pitch a story?

Shoot me a note at You've heard it before, but I can't respond to every inquiry. I will often times pass along emails to other members of our team. They might not always get back to you, either. But we are looking and listening.

Our Clients are in the News!

Women Creating Change

Our nonprofit clients have had some amazing coverage recently. Here's a taste!

The Alliance for Positive Change
Plus Magazine

Amida Care
Gay City News 
Calpulli Mexican Dance Company

Community Resource Exchange
Crain's New York Business

Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation

Girl Scouts of Greater New York
NBC4 New York Live

Institute for Community Living
NPR Latino USA

Mission Society of New York City
The Native Society 

Museum of Jewish Heritage
CBS Evening News

The New York Times