A predecessor to video journalism first appeared in the 1960s in the USA, when reporters had to write and shoot their own stories. Michael Rosenblum compared the introduction of video cameras to the invention of the portable camera in the 1930s: film spools of plastic made photography independent from heavy plates and tripods. digital video technology releases TV from heavy cameras, artificial light and studios in much the same manner. Video journalism makes it possible to document any event while it is still occurring..
In the early 1990s, the news channel NY1 was the first to hire only video journalists. In the middle of the 1990s, the first German private stations followed the example of NY1, and in 1994, the first public broadcasting station, the local channel Bayerische Rundfunk, followed suit and hired a number of video journalists.
In 2001 the BBC started to switch to video journalism in all its regional offices.. As of June 2005 the BBC has more than 600 of its staff trained as video journalists. Other broadcasting entities who are employing this method include Voice of America, Video News International and New York 1. Video journalism seems to become more widespread among newspapers as well, with the Washington Post alone employing six video journalists.
The Press Association (UK) is behind a training programme which "converts" regional journalists into video journalists, more than 100 as of March 2007.
In Australia, Network Ten is the only commercial network to employ video journalists. They are based in remote bureaux spread across Queensland: Simon Hooper on the Gold Coast, Nicolas Boot on the Sunshine Coast and Brett Mason in North Queensland.
Growth in video journalism coincides with changes in video technology and the cost of this technology. As quality cameras and editing systems have become smaller and available at a fraction of their previous costs, the single operator method has spread.
Some argue video journalists are able to get closer to the story avoiding the impersonality that may come with larger crewing. In addition, the dramatically lower costs have made possible the birth of many cinéma vérité-style documentary films and series. Others see this method of production as a dilution of skills and quality driven by TV management cost cutting incentives.