It is entirely possible to produce good content with cheap cameras. See this music video, produced with a cell phone: 'Oceans' by Rob Dickinson
But much of what we do as journalists involves making a story rather than just covering it. Plane crashes and shootings aren't going to happen in front of your staff very often, no matter how many point-and-shoot cameras you put on the street. Much of what we do for a living is to explain boring stuff in interesting ways.
To make compelling video of those stories takes talent and decent gear. And any business that depends on gear should have equipment that stands up to daily use.
Beyond that, though, we need to produce stories that have more than novelty. We don't want our video to become the pet rocks or cb radio of this generation. If all you want is traffic, run porn or mentos videos ... or maybe porn AND mentos videos....
The buzz these days is all about community. But newspapers have ALWAYS been about community. Newspapers exist to land on the doorstep of people who have put down roots, who are raising their kids, and who are fully vested in their neighborhoods.
We need to invest in serving our communities online -- in ways that our viewers will remember favorably. Quality counts. Viewers -- our subjects -- have very long memories and will never forget that we made them look bad or made their voices sound awful.
As a journalist of long experience, I can tell you that nothing is as final as the door slammed in your face by a news-making person who once had a story done on them they didn't like. And no one is as helpful as the subject who respects what your institution has done to them previously.
Your community deserves steady, clear video with good sound.
(This was written in response to Mindy McAdams blog entry "Cheap cameras fine for video?" )