Saturday, April 05, 2014

Videojournalism, past, present and the future, and now the real news... (My 2000th post). The president of the....

This is my 2000th post since I started blogging properly since 2005 - a milestone of sorts, and so I wanted to share a wrap.

In television jargon a wrap is a story that extracts a point from the beginning to emphasis an overall point. It can also signal the end of a show.

Last week, in bringing the Masters in Journalism online module to a close, I took my students  to Channel 4 News, one of the most seminal newsrooms you'll find anywhere.

I worked for almost five years as a freelance producer and videojournalists at Channel 4, at times producing the indefatigable Jon Snow.

Jon to a US audience would be the equivalent of a Peter Jennings. Smooth, unruffled, old skool and new mixed together, and much admired (and disliked by some, ah well). 

Jennings is someone I have met too when he toured the ABC Newsroom in South Africa. He was much taller than I imagined.

I was a producer for ABC News during South Africa's epoch first all-race elections.  

All this paints a picture of sorts of the journey I have had in news. In spite of the number of natural and artificial barriers, journalism morphs from being an occupation into a lifestyle. You live news, you see news.

I was like any other producer in news- the people who make it happen, but whose credits lay under the radar.

When television news adopted cinema positions in the 1950s, the producer role was one too that was adopted. However the reality has been that it does not have the same visibility as producers in cinema - a small point, which has no consequence to this post.

News according to Richard Sandbrook is one of those versatile disciplines which provides knowledge for other careers. What it teaches you I add quickens the mind,  elevates the power of judgement and gives you a window on the spectrum of human conditions e.g. grief, malice, sloth etc.

Conversely, traditional news also sets up a picket fence adjudging what is acceptable  and what is not. To the students of Westminster University, Snow's conversation with them may resonate for a while. They are within a golden age of news,  he said, a rebirth, bringing to mind Neo and his matrix-pod moment.

I could not agree more, but what is this rebirth  and how does that translate into anything meaningful?

Data journalism, social networking, coding, software compliance across AE, Indesign and the lot. And videojournalism.

They all matter in this golden age of share. But to share, you need something to share, and videojournalism is proving to be a much sought after commodity.  Read Peter Preston's piece on the challenges the Telegraph is facing with its web strategy and its 'US' editor being at the helm of a British institution, and the schisms in journalism become evident.

Incidently, if you're a Telegraph reader, you're likely to have £100,000 tucked away in the bank, so it's small wonder , the web is not their buzfeed. 

But there's something profoundly at fault with the present model of videojournalism and its custodians, the power brokers, who framed what journalism was, or is.

And herein lies my wrap. The something that is happening in journalism ignores a fundamental theme to characterise its approach and what it offers.

We hold the belief, that journalism is bound by set values, framed by unyielding parameters, practiced by a professional class with their codes.

That's true, and was during its inception, but journalism is a construct. I repeat journalism is a construct. Its values, its legacy comes from men and women, often self-appointed, who debate and share, at that moment and time common understandings, until they're threatened by another professional class. 

Note I said professional class.  This new age of journalism seeks to adhere to rules, many of which need a reboot, but their legacy is so entrenched, we believe them to be immutable laws.

One of those journalism tools is videojournalism. A practice I have come to know and love for what it does. Videojournalism was supposed to be one of the disruptors, to break open a new dawn, to revolutionise the manner in which we create journalism.

But it's rarely happened. The idea that you can shoot and report your own film, is not videojournalism or a radical departure from news. Ask any self shooting camera man or woman who operated in the 1980s.

The philosophy of this new journalism form was the ability to undo the binary simplification of television journalism. In TV if its not black it;s white - one of the most dangerous premises for judging. The texture of this new journalism reportage revealed something far more discursive and challenging.

Oh and by the way, reporters actually with their gear did try this. This image of ITN John Suchet in the 1980s epitomises the videojournalist ( from my PhD research) and don't be fooled by the big camera. 

 In the 1970s Ken Richter produced the smallest 16mm camera that a journalist could shoot with

So what is videojournalism ( not in an academic way) and why is it so deeply relevant that you know what it is and how it functions?

Gina Deeming tweeted this recently

I responded that the conscientious teacher points you to look, but resists telling you what to see.

That's been my mantra with our Masters cohorts and is the subject of my presentation at the International Festival of Journalism opening up a new, overlooked, ignored journalism that is 21st century.

I presented a weakened argument at SXSW in comparison to my present performance lecture. The reviews were largely favourable from  global patriot technology tell and austin bits and atom.

In the lecture room of tomorrow, the sharing zone for future masters students, new fundamentally different pedagogy should align with new social journalism practices.

The ... And now the news, is not just about reform in the way we look at the creation and outcome of stories, but how our cultures, our individualism plays a bigger role.

It couldn't before because journalism as western model, was practiced by a homogeneously same culture, and colour set. 

Remember when news practised parachute journalism, or that the attitude to journalists who were not of the same cultural pool was akin to Farage shouting "bloody foreigners"

In the West in the 1960s/70s, the UK was predominately white. In the Ghana of the 1960s, Ghanaians were influenced by their own values of what made them Ghana, in spite of a legacy of British influence.

The views of say a Ghanaian therefore play little role in the understanding of journalism in another culture. 

It's a related reason why, often on the tech circuit of high flyers the speakers tend to emerge from a particular cultural milleu. Does this matter? 

When we speak of social news and its impact, in the West we're only now coming around to a different idea of news. But as a baffled Ghanaian student of mine, Daniel Kofi, from 8 years ago recounts, news should be something else, than what it is at present- social news.

Well founded sociological research tools, such as semiotics or even cognitivism make no allowance for the culture, race and beliefs of the storyteller. How could they ? 

Both purport to be scientific models to evaluate research, so beliefs and thoughts are not permitted to be part of the person's story form.

News companies that seek to simplify stories are intellectually ill- equipped with the tools to understand  that a take on a story may be influenced by the fact I grew up in Ghana. but can still be truthful.

That wonderful moment when the late BBC journo Komlu takes his shirt of to decree his Ghanaianesss is an example of this.

Only now, through social news are we beginning to understand that who you are, where you're from, your likes, dislikes can be collated to give meaning to readers about you.

We've come a long way from  the traditional journalism that was apt for its time, but in the transition to a new technological flattened culture, we're still perpetuating beliefs that ill-suit the potential of story telling.

That's what I will be sharing in Perugia at the journalism festival. Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

The reality of London Live - how to launch a station in London

And then it came to pass. London's newest TV station was launched writes former Newsnight and Channel 4 Producer David Dunkley Gyimah.

Here's the catch 22. If you're launching a station you have to big it up. You need eyeballs on your product to make advertisers open their purses.  

Trouble is in that traditionally English sporting tradition of "knock- the- TV- of- its- peg", you run the risk of creating expectations so high that unless you're shooting stardust from the TV it's not going to cut it.

It's a delicate win-win.

Success of a kind though can be measured by the fact the station launched. I watched the opening and it reminded me of youth show BBC Reportage and the Mirror's Live TV.

That's not a criticism but a semiotic reflection of the product, as seen by a critic who watches and analyses television. I chair the jury for the RTS News Innovation awards this year and I used to work on Reportage.

Julian Raesmith commenting on BBC Radio 4 about LondonLive compared it with Network 7 with its cool speak and talking at the audience, er somewhat patronisingly. 

Mark Lawson was complimentary in sections for his piece in the Guardian, praising the diversity of the panel: three women and no white metropolis male.

Ellen E Jones of the Independent gave LondonLive a resounding thumbs up. However, the Independent is also owned by Evgeny Lebedev, who also owns LondonLive. Jones says: 

Londoners often wistfully observe that even with so much culture on the doorstep, they never seem to find time to be a part of it. Well now, with London Live delivering all the good stuff direct to your living rooms, there really is no excuse

The ghost of Network 7
I am Londonlive and you are the establishement

Network 7 in the 1980s was an influential programme for a generation of youth. It launched the careers of several uber slick TV people, at a time when, do you remember Davina McCall's late night dating show "God's Gift" and cooking show "Get Stuffed"?

Honestly, I used to stay up to watch this after a night in the student union  (Leicester) watching Terrence Trent D'arby and some red haired bloke daftly calling himself Simply Red.

After the launch party
The dynamics at LondonLive look interesting. Having been involved in the first 24-hour station, 20 years ago, here's what's going on behind the glam.

You've launched. Whehey!

The reality is now, keep going. However, having worked up to the launch with rehearsals upon rehearsals you mentally begin to feel tired.  You don't have a BBC staff quota so it's still all hands on deck.

Management are in celebratory mood. Nothing has fallen of air. Pitches will be devised for new advertisers and sponsors and the metrics from viewing habits will be combed over.

The approach to the 18-30 year olds needs to work. However because LondonLive is new and they have a mixed constituency: experienced managers, youthful staff, and the suits, at some point conflicts arise. 

As one manager said of Channel One's videojournalists, we created prima donnas. It's natural. Londonlive is still finding its way and is experimenting. But as soon as the younger staff become confident, what works with 18-35 year olds - their target audience - begins to rub against what a late 40-something manager says.

This is the time to hold your nerve and build alliances. When it's not working, it's usually because the audience are getting used to the grammar. All TV station's go through this e.g. BBC. 

If you want to create new TV, don't employ TV people who've come through the system is the radical thought. This thinking is more prevalent in cinema. Tarantino, Soderburgh, Lee, Fincher came at cinema from the side with a vengeance. They were not industry bods.

London's special TV
London  is such a diverse community, that it almost requires a different metric to measure audiences. 24-hour TV is what is known in the industry as a "dip-in service".

Audiences will rarely stay for a long sitting. For the networks, strategic devices like tent-pole programming come into effect.

This is where you create an exemplary programme e.g. The Voice and you dovetail it with two lesser well known programmes. The effect is a spill over from the tent pole programme before a portion of the audience leaves.

In the mid 2000s when Al Jazeera launched, its lead creative designer used my site to create their website. Last week one of the cleverest former BBC's techs Erik Huggers, now the president of Oncue spoke about the primacy of the web to develop programming. I agree.

What's the next generation of web that will pull in the upwardly mobile? Because the perennial problem of 18-35s sitting down to watch TV will not go away.

So far, with flat design all the trend, Londonlive is yet to use the net as a strategic portal.

But it's very early days. Television is a bummer. News drains resources and just when you get better, other networks are breathing over you e.g. Vice - a network rather than a London-based network. 

London's new station will provide lots of intelligence for how to launch a station, but don't expect to read about anything negative in the press. Jeremy Hunt who launched the local TV programming will be watching with interest. If it works, it debunks all the intel that local TV in the UK can't replicate the US model. Let's wait and see.


David will be presenting at the international journalism festival (april 30th 2014) on producing a radically different approach to 21st century news story forms from his 6-year-PhD research. (See what Apple say)

Monday, March 31, 2014

International Journalism Festival: David Dunkley Gyimah presentation of future of videijournalism

How do you update a 60-year-old television news story form, news professionals refer to as the news package? If we acknowledge language evolves over time and video journalism is a form of language, how has video journalism evolved?

In his 6-year global doctorate research, International award winning video journalist David Dunkley Gyimah  unveils his findings that show what audiences are appreciating and exemplar video journalists are producing.

In 2005, before Youtube David showed how embedded video within the body of an article was a game changer online. This and his work in won him the Knight Batten Award for Innovation in Journalism.

In his latest work he focuses on how in a digital age awash with video, experts are making their products distinguishable from others and concludes by challenging current conventional thinking about what constitutes videojournalism.  

David Dunkley Gyimah is a senior lecturer at the University of Westminster. He has previously worked for BBC Newsnight, Channel 4 News and ABC News South Africa. He was one of the UK's first videojournalists. This year he was the chair of jurors for the RTS innovative news category. He completes his PhD at UCD this year. He is presents at the International Journalism Festival

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Standing on the shoulders of giants rewriting Television News - a moving story

We stand on the shoulders of giants. In this case Ken Mallor with a microphone standing outside No 10 Downing street. It is the golden age of the crew.

In the age of plenty, where everyone is an expert, it's often difficult to separate spectrums of tacit knowledge, opinion and expert knowledge.

That is unless you come across a giant like Ken, who has lived through the arguments regularly wheeled out on the net when discussing television news.

For instance, as uber thinker Jeff Jarvis asks recently in a post, what's the point of the television stand-up?  This may seem like a puerile question to those who believe there is an obvious answer.  

Yet, if you've not worked, studied or critiqued the form professionally e.g. Jarvis, what you might end up is transient knowledge,  anecdotes and second hand material. 

Not Ken, and his is a touching story I'd like to share. 

You know Television - How?

Ken knows television, just as Bo knows football (famous 1980s ad). Ken started with ITN in the 1960s as a soundman, and armed with a stills camera took countless photos of that era.

Now at this point you're likely to think what the 1960s has to do with modern digital TV and the world. Well, everything.

Mallor saw how TV evolved. He even remembers how a miffed reporter tired of getting his stand-ups/ PTC chopped  because ITN had ran out of time, decided to put the stand-ups in the middle.

The stand-up, by the way, was television's answer to taking on cinema. TV and cinema could both make extraordinary films, but hey, television could create "live".

Reportage ITV's London Tonight from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.
I'm reporting for ITV's London Tonight in the 1999s, trying to add something to the Stand-up

In some of the first presidential elections filmed in the US in the 1950s, and the coronation of the HRH in the UK, the presence of a live reporter was one in the jacksy for TV.

At ITN, the bridge was born. The networks could no longer cut out the reporter. If anything following the inverted pyramid model of newspapers, the editors would still cut 15 seconds of the end of the report, but the reporter was safe.

How do you know what you know about TV? Many of us read books, lots of them. But the problem with books is you can't interrogate the author, but then you find a living book like Ken.

Five years ago I put a note in the UK industry magazine belonging to BECTU. Ken Mallor answered my email.

He knew TV because he was there and over the five years has selflessly fed me with information that has startled and shocked me.

I was so enamoured with Ken, his pictures he sent me, the information he has retained; he is a young 80-something year old, that I mentioned in passing that he had a book in him.

A year ago, he sent me a forward for a book, he was about to publish, and in that forward was a thank you to David Dunkley Gyimah - me. Why? I shook my head in disbelief.

Somehow I was one of the catalysts to him publishing. I was flabbergasted.

This morning Ken emailed to ask if he could send me a copy, and if I wanted it sighed. Yes bloody please.

I don't deserve the mention. It was ken's selflessness that has got me to the last mile of a PhD which questions the style, form and existence of TV. 

David with nAlbert Maysles
I have been hugely lucky Ken and several others more than 100 experts have contributed to this thesis, such as the original team behind cinema verite. It is their words on display, which I have threaded into hopefully a coherent narrative.

In the thesis there is the mother of all howlers which turns common knowledge over so much, that scores of articles will have to be rewritten.

What a bloke Ken is. If you thought the idea of social was born with web 2.0, Ken shows it was alive and well and for many characteristics like this, and to him, I salute Ken.

I receive the book this week. Wow!

Yesterday's post, as London gets ready to launch its second 24-hour network, I provide an insight into what could go wrong and right, based on working for London's 1st 24-hour network.
Blog author David Dunkley Gyimah, as a videojournalist and occasional newsreader at Channel One. Videojournalism was more than the sum of news' individual productions

David Dunkley Gyimah is a senior lecturer at the University of Westminster. He is the recipient of International awards in videojournalism and the Knight Batten for innovation in journalism for his work on This year he was the chair of jurors for the RTS innovative news category. He completes his PhD at UCD this year. He is next presenting at the International Festival of Journalism inPerugia next month

Friday, March 28, 2014

How to launch a 24-hour station live in London - an expert editorial

London Live, which launches next week, will be a success writes former Newsnight and Channel 4 Producer, and Knight Batten Winner David Dunkley Gyimah

David will be presenting at the international journalism festival (april 30th 2014) on producing a radically different approach to 21st century news story forms from his 6-year-PhD research. (See what Apple say)



Success for Londonlive however depends on how you measure success. At the very least the channel will introduce us to the next generation of TV stars and journalists, who can expect to be poached by the networks. Whether it will make good on its estimates of returns, at £25m, as highlighted in Greenslade’s Guardian article is a difficult one.

The degrees of excitement and mix of fear is palpable as the station nears its last countdown.  Some twenty years ago this November, 30 young journalists, including myself, experienced similar excitement. The article above from 1994 reads:

"150 people will have worked themselves up to that pitch of excitement which comes with  new TV channel Launch."

We were part of a newly launched station called Channel One, ironically owned by the Evening Standard, though in 1994 it was under different management then. Today, some of those Channel One’s graduates are household names or  respected industry  figures e.g. Chris Hollins on BBC Watchdog.

Channel One launched with the drums rolling to a newly acquired discipline called Videojournalism heralding a new beginning in storytelling. Before then there had been no documentation of videojournalism as self-shooting/storytellers in the UK, until an advertisement appeared in the Guardian in November 1993.

From the euphoria of its launch, to the hard reality of the keeping the dynamism afloat, Channel One lasted four years. Its little known legacy to videojournalism, multiskilling and trying to rewrite the rules of news hides a rich pedagogical history of successes and failures.

If you knew, in hindsight how to launch a 24-hour London station, would you not want to know how it ticked with Londoners?

Launching a 24-hour Network in London

The similarities between Channel One and LondonLive are evident, if not unfair. In my research I make no direct comparison. How could I? So it would be unwise to rely on trend or comparative analysis to compare the two. They are entirely different animals – in many ways, but share attributes.

For instance, Channel One started of London-based, LondonLive is based in London. Both recruited young media workers with diverse backgrounds. 

Channel One sought to rely on cross-pollination of broadcast and print journalism, which Londonlive sees as being its strong suit, and whilst LondonLive looks to spend 14m a year, Channel One, according to its Managing Director Julian Aston, spent 12m a year.

Channel One was spending a £1m a month. When you break down £12m, it can only buy you so much, even though Channel One was instrumental in driving down costs. Documentary forms normally costing £20, 000 were slashed to £5000 and less. 

With that kind of squeaky-tight budget, being innovative comes with the purse strings.  A reality check, however is how Channel One and LondonLive inhabit different social, technological and cultural ecologies.
Channel One launched during the nascent period of the Internet, and a burgeoning cable system that promised so much but never delivered.

Londonlive launches in the ferociously competitive world of digital, where  anyone’s a publisher, and young audiences have no allegiance to a brand, for brand sake. In digital, hyperlocal outfits and newspaper groups have proved they can amass viewers with the appropriate strategy. 

Premium information, which is free and readily sharable, as the Guardian explained its strategy at its Media Summit 2014 appears to be the name of the game, thus far. Green shoots indicating audiences will buy content appear to be breaking ground.

Videojournalism appeared to be the panacea for Channel One, and similarly has been lauded by LondonLive. The research I have conducted illustrates an interesting phenomenon regarding what constitutes videojournalism. 

A person with a camera who shoots and reports? Not really, there exist a matrix of issues that frame the form and hence, importantly, what you get from videojournalism. Otherwise, there is little distinction between one-man bands and videojournalism, and hence the final product.

In 2005 and 2006, when I was asked if I could help launch the Press Association’s Videojournalism programme, one of the hurdles to overcome was to reboot videojournalism from its predictable offerings. 

In my research I interviewed scores of newspaper videojournalists to uncover what worked and what didn’t. Then I took that study globally, and some interesting patterns emerged.

Like, Greenslade and I would like to see LondonLive succeed. The ingredients, the environment, the wherewithal exist. But for me the truly interesting apsect is whether LondonLive will kickstart the next TV evolution by producing a new form of television, or television news for that matter, or deliver credible programmes in the television we all know.

Presenting the new language of videojournalism at the International Festival of Journalism

Television teaches its audiences the grammar they need to decode ad enjoy programmes. Play it safe in a competitive environment and you’ll win audiences, but become indistinguishable in brand identity.  Opt for innovation and you have to ask the question, what’s your staying power?  

 Firstly, the audience needs time to understand what you’re doing, and TV like the premier league gives it managers too little time to show how bold they can be. Secondly, if you are looking to reinvent the wheel, how do you maintain this? 

Television, like newspapers, breed spoilers and copycats. If you're successful, the other side raises the stakes by pouring in more money into their venture (Sky vs BBC). Or otherwise stealing the talent team. That's the threat LondonLive faces. £14m a year soon become £24m to safeguard ideas. It's a poker game you win by looking nonchalant with your chips.

Television, according to a former Channel One producer Julian Phillips, who became a BBC executive, requires teams of innovative collaborators to continually test ideas and probe for distinctiveness. 

Greenslade, who contributed to an article on Channel One two decades ago points to a discursive behaviour pattern amongst Londoners, why local television doesn’t work. 

Kelvin Mackenzie put put it another way saying: 
"A house fire in Peckham is of no interest to people in Ealing. In fact they would be secretly pleased".

Unlike the US, where cable and independent programme making is a billion dollar industry, with big profits at stake, in London that market place is yet to break.

Londonlive however could prove everyone wrong.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Getting into your pocket - Changing media Summit @Guardian

Comments from the session of the Guardian Media Summit. - the memorable bits

We want your money. But we're having a pretty damn hard time deciding how to do that.

We've tried web ads. You're all ignoring us.

We're going after you via moble, but we know it's not working, as well as it should. 

 But you don't like it when I ping you ads everyday cuz you visited Amazon. Wait a minute actually Amazon's ok cuz you can inform the level of granularity. That sell was a gift so stop targeting me, so don't hit me up again.

Lori Cunningham from the telegraph believes in value ads. We know what our users want. But value added for the advertisers or the consumer?

Who cares? Well a question from the floor said users are getting more savvy and will eventually turn off from ads that target them. [ heard this before]

Furthermore, what the *** do you mean by Value-added? Hayes says it's got to do with emotional engagement. And what does  emotional engagement mean??  

The metrics seems to clear by Haye's standard, but I am still loss. 

One thing emotional engagement is not directly proportional to clicks and shares via social. See this Times Piece. Total Time Read on a page is one of the new metrics. But how does the Ad lot measure that?

Paradox from punter. You want the ads, sometimes, particularly according to Ben Huh from cheezeburger if they're funny, but you don't want that ad bots knowing everything about you.

Programmatic ads therefore suck. What should work is personalisation, which according to Paul Hayes from  News UK, is the way it's going. He quoted the daddy of big data, Tesco's Sir Terry Leahy. Leady was behind Tesco's successful club card

Question from the floor. The implications that ads are losing huge revenue cuz no one's clicking. So do you go down the route of the Guardian and have your data open and share or do you continue with pay wall model?

Prognosis after the session. It's a confused market. No one has the answer. The metric works for specifics groups, based on sociological and Tech reasons until something else comes along with another./

Lively session, none the less curated by Jeff Jarvis. 

Buzzwords of the session: Subject-experts. Editors are needed because they are subject-experts!

Monday, March 17, 2014

International: A British journalism and video affair

This is journalism, as a very British affair. Cue: Rule Britannia.

It may have an international reach, might even be undertaken by an internationalist, with a global view, but ultimately it emanates from a particular place, these shores, with a British sensibility.

There's no point arguing. 

For instance, when the British wanted to enhance their news filmic storytelling in the 1960s, when the world was swallowing new great ideas far more significant than today by the measure of some scholars, they turned to America.

ITN's Cox saw something about what NBC's news pioneer Frank Reuven was doing. His 'aha' moment was this:

"After studying the half-hour bulletins transmitted by the three American networks and examining their newsroom organisations I am convinced that not only will ITN take the half-hour bulletin in its stride, but will produce a better, more varied and flexible show than either CBS, NBC or ABC."
British journalism in the making ,1967, using an Auricon camera

So today the news story form from the Brits has a significantly different proposition to the Americans. Better? Well, that's business hyperbole; by whose standards? 

Fifty years later, this time the Americans would look across stream for their aha moment. Last year NBC hired its first President of News who was a woman (several men had glass in their shirt collars), but, also a Brit.

The French speaking, MBA-shaped, dynamic Deborah Turness was also the first woman editor for ITN. 

Among many things, she is doing a very British affair in journalism in the US at the moment. 

When she tells her staff, I want the "Queen on the loo" stories, the reference is piquantly British. It means searching for those impossible stories.  Ur hum, "loo" is bathroom, the actual porcelain we sit on [TMI].  More on Turness in a minute.

British Media Summit.

Tomorrow I attend the Guardian Media Summit 2014. A stellar line-up as always, The Guardian, an internationalist, but very British newspaper presents...

keynote panel: Digital content in a mobile-first world

As the opening key note, it features the erudite US Jeff Jarvis as moderator with a nice line-up of a British knowledge.
Vincent Blaney, European brand director – media & digital,  Millward Brown
Lori Cunningham
, director of digital strategy and revenue, Telegraph Media Group

Paul Hayes
, managing director, News UK Commercial

Ben Huh
, founder, Cheezburger and Circa

Robert Picard
, director, Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, University of Oxford

It's not a controversial point, and I am not being jingoistic. Attendants will, for instance, hear how the Telegraph accomplished its aims. Jarvis' guile, knowledge and being from the US gives him a perspective in perceiving what others, perhaps, will not.

In fact, the two left to their own could indulge in that transatlantic pursuit, "You say tomato, I say tomato". The  point which I'll crystallise fully in a moment, is that there is no international standard to journalism. No one way of doing something.

An international view, yes, perhaps, but the vibrancy of journalism, its sociology, is still made fascinating, by how other people in different countries do things. And how they just might work elsewhere.

As my Masters  students research in Online Journalism showed last week, people who read the Telegraph online are likely to have £100,000 tucked away in savings. Betcha you never considered that as part of your strategy.

Searching for Utopian Journalism

Journalism, as a construct, is exciting by the new ideas, from yonder that shape it where it's being debated at source. 

The Internet may have connected us as friends and family by Facebook, but Brits still dunk their biscuits in sugared, milked tea, much to the opprobrium of the French, and Americans. Thanks for the video Joey on how we Brits love cream in our tea.

And sometimes, our search for a journalism of the 21st century requires a "why" question, from a point and place, that might often be overlooked, and considered too puerile.

We constantly intellectualise media and journalism, with searches for Neo's media Matrix that it's almost impossible not to think why we shouldn't debate things like, how having our own personal satellites, will necessitate an evil twin as gateways. p.s you really need to read the last link and yes the personal satellites was the idea of another much respected news maker.

A former Master student of mine asked a basic question. Why does British Journalism engage itself in ruin, rather than advocacy to effect change. If knowledge is power, how is it endlessly used to pursue a pop star's downfall, when searing concentrated attention on politics e.g. Crimea might have more of an impact.

Remember in the 90s when all the websites turned their screens blank in protest or Wiki went offline for a while. What if all the newscasts in the world, showed the same news condemning what was happening in Crimea for 24 hours. Solidarity, yes! Silly,  and impracticable you might think too. Journalism means different things to all.

So back to Turness. Turness contributes to another sensibility of Britishness - my PhD.

A theoretical and practical document, which examines an emergent, powerful 21st century form of journalism and video form which is not yet public access. Though it lurks  under the radar.

For the last six years, double-bent over a Mac, or positioned in any number of areas: 

  • Inside ITN's archive vault - examining their media and archive as film
  • filming near the Syrian border where young filmmakers spoke about their influences and how they set about storytelling. Many risked their lives daily, which I have made into a self-contained film.
  • using my background and expertise to interview experts and observe the best of what the British do, such as Turness, and scores of other talented journalists.

I have been picking at the seams of this knowledge, contorting myself in knots many times, and awakening in moments of clarity to bash out another 5000 words.

Yesterday, culling 6000 words, 97,726 words finally stared at me from the screens. I am exhausted and it still needs to pass through the channels of academia, so in respect of that process I can't talk about its exact contents.

However, I can frame its general ideas. Firstly, there is no such thing as a universal form of video with journalism. Nope, sorry it doesn't exist. If you've been searching for it, breath a sigh of relief. That's my 3000 words of the thesis. 

And far from dancing on the head of the pin, what I write about for 30 percent of the time is a very British affair  - acknowledging a form of journalism which emerged in the 90s, then (sphew!) disappeared.

Does that matter? Well, it's a bit like an archaeologist stumbling across findings  e.g. Ötzi the iceman and realising that, hey wait a minute so we got that wrong. Because what followed afterwards, was a direction by powerful media forces that reverted to the tried and tested tradition.

By way of analogy, if Twitter and Facebook had been devised by traditional media, they would have used to to publicise their running orders to their own journalists in the field.  Just as well then!  But that's what happened in video news storyform.

This exhaustive research has had its moments. A couple of examples.

What connects this figure below, as a reporter twenty years ago, with this BAFTA award winning film, The Imposter?
Dimtri of Raw TV

And the connection to this photojournalist, whose day job was a British Editor, who was the top of his game with GMTV during the Gulf War, who helped the BBC comprehend videojournalism?

These two and 28 others were part of an informal movement, ( an experiment by default) chosen from 3000 applicants. Illustrated in the below figure. For every person chose, 100 people were considered. 

So what was it that defined the group and how has it been that they have been able to tap into innovative behaviour?

I'll shed some light on that in the coming days. How the research took three critical strands to investigate innovative form of  journalism, and how it commenced  following events in 2005, and 2006, when I recieved: The knight Batten Awards and International Videojournalism Awards

It wasn't the awards per se, but what happened next with dialogues between groups and individuals.