Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Broadcasting in style, but does it always work?

The credit crunch, the dour economy, the blood on the floor, now lets cut to our reporters looking immaculately cut in bespoke suits.

There's something incongruous about the image. Reportage has become so slick, you might call it "fashionable drama reporter".

In Ron Powers' The Newscasters - the news business as show business", we see its origins.

The broadcast networks really did seek celebrity status; helicopters carted the super reporter from location to location.

Those were the excess years and they've not been forgotten. Newscasters aped Dallas and Dallas looked to the broadcasters - a veritable circle of admiration.

But then we tired of the slick and drama got busy redefining itself, splintering of to a 'look and feel' that created the impression that this was hard work.

Compare Miami Vice with Don Johnson to The Wire

In broadcasting, reportage has come to look so effortless in its production and delivery that it underscores one of its biggest sells; the drama that takes place in and around the story.

It's the swan syndrome - looking good on top, but disguising the hard work below the line.

And because almost everyone works to this template, it is the convention. But why?

Stage Managing News
A hardened stage managed programme that's supposed to capture the essence of this thing called: News, which is often not nice, pretty or straight forward presents an out of sorts picture.

I believe that's what sublimely viewers are tiring of and I'd like to be in a position to show that empirically.

When the news is utterly compelling you can forget about the background noise for a moment: the suits, looks, immaculately manicured hands.

There's sense somewhere broadcasting from the Paris Fashion Show or Downing Street, but on the streets of crime or the grub road of failing economies, it's odd.

It's particularly jarring when reporting from the scene of a crime.

There is a different way to producing a programme that attempts to explain the day's events and behind the walls of development media companies and media universities is one of the prime places to show this.

Radio discovered that in the 90s, when a slew of programmes wanting to appeal to their constituents went zoo, exposing some of the things that took place behind the scenes.

Others looked for more live events to capture the mood; you felt you were discovering the story with the vast talents of the reporter.

There have been signs of that this week, but no sooner has a live link ended the broadcasters revert to an 80s type.

Anyone with a budget and up for the challenge to develop some thing new?

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