Sunday, September 13, 2009

From Arab to African media, West to East-the power of videojournalism II

On a sunny day, nothing to write home about in weather terms on the African continent, in South Africa two state broadcasters shared a common ideal to work together.

It was 1997, an era of no Youtube and any mention of videojournalism drew gasps and increduility in the UK and US. But here flying between Cape Town, Durban, and J0ohannesburg were journalists from Ghana TV and the SABC cracking open the videojournalists' bottle.

Those films, a documentary of that time, South Africa three years into democracy sit on my shelf, one or two of them can be found here in the United States of Africa.

Fast forward the time continuum by eleven years and I'm in South Africa again, Rhodes University, courtesy of the Knight Multimedia Foundation led by venerable academic Rich Beckman.

Training Days
The object is to train academics from other African states to grasp the fundamentals of Sound Slides and an iteration of videojournalism you might call video slides.

Here the voice track is used to drive the visual narrative, in many ways just like an observational documentary (sans reporter's voice).

Simple enough? But the skill belies an understanding of shooting strong visuals ( b-roll/ GVs) and mastering how to interview. A report on that workshop will be posted soon.

But after a couple of days of mixing it with the team and the attendants I wanted to share with you how resourceful and enjoyable a time I had.

I have lived (8 years) and worked in Ghana long enough to know practical media skills particularly in the Youtube era is something so badly needed and whilst sadly there were no academics from Ghana, I felt a kinship with all the academics.

Five days ago they arrived here fairly tentative. Today they themeselves admit they leave more confident at passing this knowledge on.

I'm not taking credit for this, for in the camp for visual skills were Jim Seida from MSNBC, a veteran practitioner, Programme leader Rich Beckman from Miami University, Sam Tirelli, a lawyer turned academic of many many years standing and Trevor Green, who's producing skills and temperament are enviable desirable skills.

I'm back in the UK soon, looking to kickstart our semester with an incoming lot of Masters journalism students, butressed against a social dance multimedia project I'm involved in at the South Bank, and a viva and show and tell of the new landscape from my own PhD programme.

All worth their while, but I can't help thinking of the spring you get in your step when you know you've been involved in a programme that potentially has a huge trickle down effect in its abilty to influence many others down the line.