Sunday, November 26, 2006

Our life

James rolled from his bed, Kate stared at the clock wishing some type of mystic gaze would freeze its progress.

Grey clouds materialising from the night, one the shape of a goose and her many goslings broke Sheryl's concentration on the island of Ayia Napa. Change of scene imminent she thought.

And then in this part of the hemisphere as if the world population of ants had, in unison, made that trill sound, barely audible, but magnified and dampened in the human hearing range sounds like computer bytes, ones and zeros at war, the world exploded.

7.00 - It's a beautiful Day ( U2 playing)

"Today's lecture will examine an aspect of Ferma's Theorem"
" Can we use people's genes to id them or what about their isp, when their voice protocol claims they want anonymity"
"An evaluation of journalism in 2009 showed the biggest spike in interest levels but also the most unsettling period of strikes and despair in the profession".

Tseeet tttt eeeek bleeepp!

" Hi james. Hi Kate. Hi to anyone joining us on quiet mode. My name's Sheryl I see some of you have opted for journalism and technology. I'm going virtual so if you want to join please switch on your green room so I can take you to the journalism zone".

Sheryl dance-all-night is a solo lecturer - a new breed of independent teachers gilded to the teeth with computer skills to teach online, inside the grid. It is an experience so far removed from the present that cohorts of the 2027 real world skills experience chortle at the crude methods used some 15 years ago.

2027: Tuesday/ second quad/inside the green zone/ grid 45...

James: " Ok I'm in.. sorry where are you.. ah see you!

The technology is so simple in its elegance that generations in the 20th century would have clamoured for its use. In 2015 digicorps companies started seling of green space - essentially virtual reality backdrops - so anyone with a tetra computer could buy, access their space and interact with anyone else given the right coordinates.

This is Second Life gone mad, but the real is the input sensor attached to your ear and eye pod allowing you to experience whatever it is, wherever it is without having to leave your home.

Terra computers you could say rule the world. Imposing edifices- universities- a feature of modernity but born from the womb of early civilisation, where the Platos and Socates held court in designated ampitheatres with select groups worthy of the knowledge, are no more.

Welcome to the new world.

David Dunkley Gyimah writes: It's only fiction so steady on before I start getting hate mail, but this emerging world had me thinking after interviewing the University of Westminster's Vice Chancellor Dr Geoffrey Copland about the future of Unis after I'd been invited to speak about the subject at the forthcoming digital
hollywood forum.

What the VC had to say took my breadth away. You'll have to watch it to understand that my active imagination hasn't made up all of the above. The future for Dr Copland is students logging on to their courses via handhelds, devising their own curriculum, education has become open source - anyone and everyone can attend. . . and so on.

In a small way that's almost happening, Blogs and blecs have become an interesting guide for the class of 2006 to discover how their colleagues around the country are doing.

Victoria, James, David, Ruth and Rachel and their contact with Adam Westbrook firstly via blogs and then in person, plus some other interesting stuff they intend to do is the forerunner to
open source new transparency.

The virtual bit is my imagination gone silly again. I went into a green room last week and got viewmagazine as the backdrop. What emerged from conversations with the technical manager is that within a couple of months I should be able to walk down a corridor of pages and pull out links while having a live chat with users.

Ahh technology.

"Radio 4 . That's all from Sunday with me Roger Bolton. Join me next week on Sunday, untill then goodbye. . .

"I just had the wierdest dream about some future technobable stuff"

Sunday, November 19, 2006

music journalism

There's only so much you can do on a PGDip course, but one area I have given some thought to is Music Journalism.

Today I got to clearing out some junk and trawled through one, then another, then. . . LPs. Yes those black plastic discs with tunes grooved in em.

Gosh despite my penchant for all things techy, my LPs are one vestige of yesterday that I can't shake. I can barely play em. My record players taking leave of of its functioning sense. Yes I could buy a new one, but nostalgia would rather have me admire the things.

Bobby Byrd, Lynn Collins, mostly of all James Brown's stuff from the 60s/70s/80s, Shalamer.... Shalamer ! Oh dear that brings back memories dancing at Soul Train

The heady days of music journalism: NME, The Face, ID, Blues and Souls, Paul Moss, Julie Burchill, Punk, The Smiths, Pogues, Chilli Peppers, Nirvana and you can fill in the rest.

It's not that anything worthy isn't happening at the mo. That's a **** nonsence. It's all relative. My mother would have me believe Bing Crosby turned water to gold.
Yep I'd be as much into Snow Patrol, Razorlight, Beyonce, Music undergrad Nancy Ginindza and at some time I'm looking forward to one of PGDip Journo Ruth Owen's gig. Maybe it's just that I can't go three days without food, sleeping in the same clothes and a bottle of Sam Miguel which lasts me just as much ( I don't really drink) in pursuit of toones, which leaves me bereft of feeling it...

But somehow I feel that living it breathing it ethos of music journo'sm has waned. Although George Skafidas', a 05 Masters student would beg to differ with this site, more than sounds

So how do we make this work and could it? Kienda Hoji - head of commercial music is all for it. His newly created Faculty Records - the only label within a uni is one reason why Music Journalism as a module makes sense. So what do we do next?
It's not up to me, but suggestions on a LP cover pushed under my door.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Long way up and a short fall down

Be careful what you do climbing the media ladder, cuz it could lead to an almighty fall down

Not as many articles this week on viewmag as I would have wanted to, but a busy week and even busier next, when I hope to introduce an aspect of the outernet onto view that had me jumping up and down like a three year old.

Thursday was interesting, the debate about technology and freelancing at the Front Line Club, chaired by CNN's Christiane Amanpour. Hoping to post this soon after some work on it. Name dropped a good friend into the debate, Riz Khan - a keen advocate of digital technology - and now one of the big names at Al Jazeera.

When I got home I emailed him and then what emerged from our emailings to and fro was a story he kept modestly quiet about. We spoke about technology and programme making while editing a programme about the Hajj one evening and he mentioned "Oh there might be an Al Jazeera international".

Might be!@$$%$% It now emerges he started it all... well AJ approached him and he sounded out a few people, got in contact with an old manager friend and the rest is history. Humility... If you've ever met Riz, you'd understand. He'd walk into a room unassuming and beam with an extended arm the words: "hello I'm Riz Khan".

The fact that he was interviewing Bill Gates or some president earlier makes no difference to his attitude and "joe-us".

It is a lesson indeed. As journalists, seen on TV or what have you, we are no different from anyone else. The shop keeper sells essential commodities, we sell information.

But as we walk throough the corridors of this profession, we meet those who believe themselves too worthy of anyone's presence other than similar celebrities. Ah well...

And so off to aerobics again and then back to finish off a chapter on my nameless book. Hello to you if we met at Front Line and a hearty thank you to those that organised it all

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Will freelancer rule the broadcast world?

Will advances in broadcast technology lead to more and more freelance journalism? In a nutshell this is the debate being held at the Front Line Club today, which honours emerging talent through its Kurt Schork award.

Chaired by CNN’s inveterate broadcaster Christiane Amanpour this question is the low hanging fruit. There will be room to explore deeper questions, but the answer is unequivovcal: yes.

Why? Because the monopoly that consolidated broadcasting, particularly television engineered at its inception has finally been broken.

Historians will note how TV emerged more or less from the bowels of radio, which in turn was heavily linked to engineering firms producing the nuts and bolts of broadcast production and distribution.

It was and still is an incredibly highly politically charged medium, so only few, very few deep-pocketed, politically connected companies could afford to buy their way into the gathering and distribution of the message.

Manufacturing receiving equipment was a cinch; herein is the asynchronous relation in broadcasting that held back johnny-have-a-go.

The Net changes all that. The production of low cost cameras and editing gear changes all that. The ability to travel by air at monstrously low costs compared to the advent of air travel changes the scene; the allure of broadcasting and fame by proxy in journalism alters the mediascape; the deconstruction of media – a more televisual aware public as witnessed through citizen journalism - provides an understanding for changing times

Ironically, the debate comes as I’m emerging from intense contact with newspaper journalists turning to video journalism to up the content game. The BBC [no less than a DG team I'm told] sent a video journalism team to look at the Press Association and the programme I helped them set up.

More on that in a later blog. This programme may not necessarily yield more freelancers but undoubtedly there are increasingly more journalists in the field with the stock to become their own brand.

I have spoken about this in articles on and I note that broadcaster and journalist Andrew Neil said that much at last week’s society of editors meeting.

We now have the tools to do just about anything: radio, TV. Web, . . . quinne media .

And a new generation of technologically fearless, multiskilled, journalists are emerging who will push their own brand if they can’t find work or the working conditions of employers appears Victorian.

There is a greater subtext to the debate by Institute of War and Peace Reporting held on the day when they're honouring Kurt Schork – a highly experienced journalists - and there are many other names that we must pay tribute to.

Comrades who have fallen in action by merely doing their job. More recently Martin Adler – another highly experienced freelancer was short dead in Mogadishu.

The absence of readily accessible broadcast news from some of the world’s most notorious hot spots is one good reason for skilled and unskilled freelancers to make the region their own. If anything it provides a steady stream of stories plus income and sates the appetite of the curious in peeling back the complexities of an area’s politics.

That much led me to South Africa in 1992, armed with a uher and sony recorder to report from among others Katlehong – then the world’s murder capital.

Award winning video journalist Ruud Elmendorp one of the industry’s most skilled journalist started life off as a freelancer 6 years ago reporting from Central Africa. Today , the calibre of his work has led to more clients taking his pieces, but he still freelances, and each time he’s out on a story he must keep his wits about him.

This raises deeper questions of security and safety. If more experienced journalists can find their life in peril, what more those just entering the profession equipped, yes, with modern day broadcasting equipemt – dv camer and alaptop.

Some organsiations provide cover for their bona fide freelance journalists. That's security awareness, insurance, bullet proof vests et al, but for every freelancer in the bossom of a network broadcaster, there are many clamouring to suckle.

The reality is simple. There are more journalists that jobs in are industry – 100,00 grads in total with only 20,000 jobs available in a year according to BBC network’s radio 1 – a station for the 15-35s.

It’s unlikely this number will improve as more centres of journalism set up. And so statistically speaking we can presumably expect more casualties. What can we do?

Does the industry need to get together to address this? That’s just one question that I’d be interested in hearing more about today.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Make her famous

Sitting on a train wifing, my mind drifts away from all things journalistic. C'mon - there is life beyond those borders. Nancy Ginindza - a talented musician comes to mind.

I abs love her music and have used its power to convey visuals from videos I have directed including a vastly downloaded vid on Iraq with photos by award winning Yannis Kontos.

So its simple, please make her famous. Because, well, one way or another she will be. Savour this.


Meanwhile Shirley Thompson, a phenom composer has just reurned from Broadway scoring for Push. You can listen to the themes on her debut CD New Nation Rising which she's kindly let me use to mix with Yannis' reel for his award ceremony. go to

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Tao of TV

About to post a video of me reporting on London's commercial TV Network. It's a finance and got me thinking about a myriad things.

This week the BBC held out an olive branch to newspaper publishers saying it would accept their footage, presumably alluding more favourably to "local TV"

The deal is this. The BBC with is division of video journalists has spotted a tier lower than regional TV to sell its wares. The same has been made of ITV.

Local TV is set to become a battle ground for eyes and advertising. The latter is something the BBC has no worries over, but that leaves local newspapers apoplectic with rage.

Eyes = advertising. The piece I'm posting says that much. Big sponsors now have music events firmly sowed into the corporate strategy. To have you brand flown across Glastonbury et al guarantees the ad team get the wink of approval from the CEO.

The newspapers have gone on their own offensive. Meanwhile ITN multimedia brand ( a quiet evolution) continues to grow and its online sites - localising their reach - are caching and pushing their assets.

So I'm back to video again. I'll deconstruct this for media students in the context of how video journalism may have approached this later. But meanwhile here goes. There's a bigger story in this.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Game Over - there's no such thing as broadcasting

A month ago I spoke about the erosion of singular disciplines, how the difference between broadcast and print student was soon to vanish. Was I a bit too prescient? The news this week is of a meeting of minds between the NCTJ and BJTC.

"The National Council for the Training of Journalists has said it is to work more closely with the Broadcast Journalism Training Council as the demand for multi-skilled, multi-media journalists increases". according to Hold the Front Page .

I was locked into lecturing at the time so could not attend the monthly BJTC meeting for which I am one of the members to report on this. But I'll be catching up with our secretary Jim latham et al to bring you greater detail.

Make no mistake this is a landmark moment - an irrevocable change to the media in defining what constitutes a newspaper journalist and broadcaster.

If you're a print student reading this. It's now the industry that's changing, not the imagination of those who pass you by in the corridors. Is this good news? You could easily argue course not, but it is change that's taking place.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

007 and some

Casino Royale starts its rounds to flush out the fakes. 007 is the real deal and with a new Bond at the helm you can bet your last hand, movie bosses will be going big on this. So I wanted to know what the real intel chiefs thought. This interview was recorded before Casino Royale was slated but gives a good impression of the life of real 007 agents.

I appreciate EX CIA chief, James Woolsey, for giving me his time in Washington DC.

Meanwhile is it video journalism or not and what makes good vj - the debate apparently was a key issue at the Society of Eds meeting in Glasgow. I couldn't go but here's my 20 second take.

There is vjism by dint of one person holding a camera and then there's vjism that seeks to create a new lingua franca to that which dominates traditional TV. Put simply there are photographers and very good ones and there are photojournalists. One must capture the moment for the front page. The other attempts to contextualise a reportage with an appropriate shot. They're both snappers. There are VJs and Vjs - both do a job. I would like to think man with a movie camera ( geddit) is re-inventing/breaking rules.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What is this... ?

I had in mind today to speak to someone I have a lot of respect for after sharing a podium with him in the US last year. Naka Nathaniel works for the New York Times, as a Video Journalist /writer etc and is just about to set off to Dafur.

This time with his correspondent Nicholas D. Kristof, a columnist for The NYT they're providing a piggy back for NBC. Naka and Kristof have been to Dafur a number of times and its mightly encouraging to see that his newspaper continues to bring news of the region to its readers through Naka and Nicholas' efforts.

I started off recording the session with this contraption above. It is state of the art mp3 and if you've ever used a uher before this really is like way beyond anything.

Half way through however and the devices capture card gave up ( hahaha ) I hear you snigger. So we switched to skype and a nifty device called audio capture that allows you to record sound coming out of your mac. The free version only allows ten minutes a pop, but its worth a future investment.

So to the questions.. Naka talks about video journalism and a question being adressed by the Front Line Club about freelance journalism and the future.

Join in the debate nearer the time when I hope to put up a range of views forward for us to discuss.

Science woes

British Students shunning science screams the headlines. Notwithstanding the brilliant number of scientists in academia and industry, perhaps a more acute bit of navel gazing is required.

My first attempt to continue my science studies- a degree in Chemical Engineering - ended in tragedy. After three weeks on the course at a uni I won't name crammed into a class of 60 plus, with a lecturer who was so monumentally unispiring it was time to leave.

But the real worries was the p**s poor salaries on offer back in the 80s and I doubt its changed much. I'll post a feature piece I made for BBC Reportage, The Brain Drain.

Verdcit: many students, researchers were high tailing to the US where they receive more money and recognition.

Until somebody adresses this and the bias to business qualifications ( media is a belated fad) then the UK will continue to haemorrhage.

Incidently I did complete my degree in Applied Chemistry but by the time I'd got passed my second year, I'd already begun freelancng for BBC radio, realising the sciences and all the additional maths, integration, Newtonian mechanics, organic chemistry was not for me - as a career.

This morning I have just been looking at my notes from Uni on Nucleophilic attacks

Saturday, November 04, 2006

5 am shadow

Busily putting some flesh on a discussion piece I'm writing for the Press Gazette and the piece more or less wrote itself emerging from my turn of last alpha sleep at 5

It's really annoying and happens quite often. The result you lay awake reading fluidily in your head the words of the article unfold. Go back to bed and you lose any connection with the other world and the crystallisation of your package.

Ah well.

Mmm I am making mischief. Now let it stew and return again for a stir. Not cricket to reveal its contents, so, er sorry can't say much. No it has nothing to do with D-Notices or offical this or that.

Quick look inside FTP of Viewmag. Any hope now of a few dark eye winks are kissed good bye. Something is happening with the traffic. It's 3000 up already and I have found some new interest from Taiwan. Hello there if you're reading this. Fat chance me thinks.

a friend has posted me the most exquisite site to look at Yum And now for the fun stuff. Answers on a post card what would you do to enhance it. Kevin drives and tests cars for a living. Don't sniff. Here he has the Aston Martin and then the Jag and then heavens knows what.

I once had him get this amazing car while a freelance at Channel 4 News. We wired the whole thing up courtesy of the ITN Q department and drove around London. I'll tell you what happened next some other time.

9. 00
Surely time for sustsenance. My thoughts cast to PGDip work. Look at the sites. Then MAJI - who are doing tele soon.

9.15 My Mac and I must end our liaison for the morning. there is a life out there, but before I put on my running shoes and get ready fot morning aerobics oh yes I l* o%^o k o86u4 t si887&%%^de and n@@@oti zz Zz Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, November 03, 2006

Creative radio

So if you're an avid BBC Radio 4 Today fan, did you share in the moment of "quick pretend no one's listening" when they attempted to have morse code emerge from the bowels of their studio, only to realise that after a good minute plus, going on for eternity, the beep, beep, dooh, beeeeps was bordering on the Monty Python.

It was a great piece of original radio idea, but i guess the producer forgot to ask how long it takes to transmit a sentence. Answer, for ever.

So as Mr morse code is merrily clicking away, one can only imagine the studio manager and item producer, plus editor screaming " enough" tempting the presenter to try and find a natural break to intervene, which she did on a couple of occasions to no avail.

I bet they had an almighty laugh after the show.

Next week a man attempts to hold his breath for the world record, except the producers didn't realise that's eight minutes, 58 seconds.

Web Video

" Web video is hard to do, and even harder to do well. Many are dabbling, but if anyone has found a real business model to support quality visual journalism in the multimedia world, let us know"

This from, Jay DeFoore, writing for a well respected photo

So I posted a reply:

Dirck Halstead continues to clear a thorny path for many of us to peer at a future which attempts next generation TV.

My mantra after more than 10 years of professional small video camera use convinces me that video journalism of a kind that redefines television's compositional arrangment for news and docs will emerge from a photojournalistic stanza.

I use a photo from award winning photo journalist Yannis Kontos to instruct would-be videojournalists. "If you can tell or understand how Yannis captures this image" I say, "you're half way there".

Whether we choose to do video journalism is a question. Is it difficult? That needs qualifying. Nothing is ever easy to start off in our trade.

But the newspapers in the UK are having a go and I think I managed to deconstruct enough of it to take the sting away addressing one of the UK's most successful newspaper publishers.

Incidentally it's not the be all business model, but newspapers with VJs in the UK are now selling their footage to broadcasters which includes the BBC. Stranger things could happen.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

London goes digital

It was a while coming. In 2000 Viacom UK contacted myself and colleagues to help them fashion a new kind of advertising. XTP would revolutionise the Underground. Our task was to visualise 5 degrees of motion. What?

Simple. On the one hand varying degrees of animation and movement would mean different revenues, but also equally important the implications of a moving ad on the Underground have serious health and safety aspects.

So we experimented with a few ads under the guidance of Viacom UK and came up with five ads pitched at Imagination's HQ. I'll be featuring an article on this on with all the ads at the time and how we came to develop them.

The stills here are froma video where we developed the brief of sporting london. Jon Staton, former head of TV at Saatchi and Saatchi could find a helicopter at short notice of you wanted one.

In this case something less adventurous, we hired out some studios and I directed a couple of sports men and women in. We then comped that in After Effects

Gosh 22,000 visitors to - and I have the Berlin awards to be thankful for that. I'm going to be posting some more stories from the awards soon. Tomorrow hope to be interviewing Naka Nathaniel about video journalism in expectation of a Front Line Club debate on technology and the future.

One of my closest mates from Medecins sans frontiere has brought over the most strangest looking device. You'll see it tomorrow. It is the future of podcasting and MP3 and looks like a stun gun.

And finally Westmins postgrad journalists are on the verge of something. But this is strictly Chatham House rules so that's all I can say

Spies within us

A sample of David's DNA mashed up

My family did no wrong, but the question is are we on the national DNA database? For within the realms of science fiction meets science fact we are project beta - the first use of DNA finger printing outside of a criminal case.

The first deployment of this forensic science was a criminal case. The second, and the fist time it was used to prove a custody case Sarbah vs Regina (the state) was my family.

So should this DNA print now exist in the police's vast ID bank. No! Do I know it exists there? No. In any case it shouldn't.

There is a wider debate fashioning and one that I remember from a conference in Leicester a decade plus ago featuring Baroness Warnock et al

You've been Goggled
Google surpassing ITV and Channel 4 News. Proof of the reach of the net ( some "@£%!! luddites are still dismissing it). There is a future waiting for us that melds tele, no video vision on the net and myspace + is about to come closer to that.

That much I'll be writing about in an open discusion piece for the UK press Gazette in a fortnight's time