Sunday, May 31, 2009

What newish media could learn from Old - Britain's Got Talent

And so Britain's Got Talent is done, over Kapush!

Well not quite. In my last post I mapped out the regime behind producing the sort of compelling VT with Susan Boyle story et al.

Diversity won, a blow for the producers in their attempt to chart Boyle's breakthrough with a doc and indeed attach a talent coach from say, Simon Cowell's company.

Diversity for all their brilliance will not be as easy to manage, because of the sheer size and the speciality of their act, plus the boy's have their own independence.

Their story will be told, but frankly they may begin to resent the intrusion and the need for the newspapers to tell a story that has conflict and adversary as a narrative.

"So one of you is studying physics, you've got a Masters, and you're doing IT. Er were you ever in any, er.. you know..."

Awkward questions follow. I hope the boy's find themselves a good manager and minder because the intrusion into their backgrounds is set to rise - from particularly the newspapers who for a limited time know the lads for Essex will sell newspapers.

It shouldn't be that way. Good stories should just sell, but the technicians behind newspapers don't think that way and for them this is business.

I'm related to one of the UK's superstar rugby players and during the intense interest in his brilliant plays, his folks had to deal with all kinds of the press interest. I spoke to a few journalists from the red tops .

So to what in film we call a turning point as I address the central themes of this post and the the question, just what could newspapers, new media and videojournalism learn from the pros?

Simply, that when you have a good story, stick with it.

Some stories can run and run. And a number of the acts from Britain's Got Talent may well have been approached to be the subject of documentaries or series. For as the curtain comes down, that some of their lives will be transformed means there's more video to run.

Lets hope that they'll all be as inspiring as their acts on the day.

Post script

This was added belatedly following the news the ff day of Boyle being admitted to hospital under the mental health act.

Firstly this may just be a preventative measure, so best not to read too much into it, until a doctor's assessment.

Colin Paterson of the BBC, talking on the Today programme was right to draw attention to Ms Boyle's playful gestures after he BGT show, but not to make a link with what he said and her admission into a clinic.

Nonetheless, this will no doubt raise questions of TV's handling of contestants re: the early Big Brother sagas.

Boyle though is different. BB you enter knowing the consequences of the gold fish bowl. BGT promises you fame, but not overt scrutiny.

As a former producer, I can imagine what it would have been like to set eyes on Susan. It would have been evident quite early if she were ill. The producers would have offered her support on a professional level to get her through the show.

"OK Susan you're doing fine. The public love you".

Often after a show, this support disappears, there are new projects to move onto. And a tv producer is no Doctor. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of thought went into: what if Susan loses, based on how swiftly she was admitted into the Priory - one of the most sought after places for pop and tv stars, seeking privacy.

It's often difficult to comprehend this, but for Ms Boyle leading a sheltered life, conservative ( small c) quiet, a church goer/singer having to go through such public attention will be extremely difficult.

What she needs now is someone like Max Clifford to keep the image everyone's come to love safe in the knowledge that is what will make her the money, many will say she richly deserves.

Because her admission so swifty

Saturday, May 30, 2009

48 million views, because it’s a multi layered story well told

Screen grab of Susan Boyle from Youtube video Freemantle/ ITV

Soon after it's release it was The Matrix, then Big Brother followed, and soon academia using various phenomenological studies and psychoanalysis will no doubt turn its attention to Susan Boyle and the Susan Boyle moment.

Just why did her video take off in the manner that it did ? 48 million views! Closer to 150 million views now at the time of writing.

This article doesn't probe an underlying philosophy, though it would be a fascinating exercise in story structure, arcing, empathy in music and indeed manipulating the viewing audience.

Instead I took to writing this after spotting a post from Mindy McAdams, a highly respected Prof in media at the University of Florida (US) and behind a successful blog.

Mindy posted this on her site: "One of the hardest things to teach is how to tell a story. I could say “how to tell a story well,” but no, it’s simpler than that. Students just don’t get how to evaluate the pieces, how to hone and polish them, and how to arrange them in a satisfying way. So I’m always on the lookout for great examples of storytelling" .

Her post was prompted by : A (Nearly) Frame-by-Frame Analysis of the Susan Boyle Video by Gary Stein on Click Z: News and expert advice for digital marketers .

Interesting I thought so I left this response on Mindy's site. (this is a slightly different version and correction of grammar doh!)


Susan Boyle moment: this is TV at its best by committee from a reputable production company, a completely different beast from solo video story telling. I counted close to 100 personnel, 30 at least of whom would be involve in direct production. Here's the list for the US Version. There can be many permutations depending on the show's turnaround, whether it's all live etc.

Firstly, the show's magic revolves around a team of personnel from that small community of live Ents shows and camera crew /technicians, which will vary depending on whether it's ITV/Freemantle (commercial) or (public sector) BBC. The costs for one show can be quite something.

This mammoth feat, the end show starts from researcher/producers at the auditions looking for subjects with entertainment value.

It can be quite thankless sometimes. There's a lot of hit and miss, but Boyle would have attracted most producers' interest. And after she would have *sang (woops mistake, doh! left on Mindy's site. Use of past participle here) sung for them privately, it would have been a no brainer.

Then the producers set about looking for all those things that make a story sell. It can be quite ruthless here as Boyle would probably have not volunteered most of the info we now know about her. There's been some debate about this shoehorning on radio stations here like LBC.

The VT (video) segment producer would probably have his/her own team including, a music librarian, who'd conjure up those ditty tunes and feel good songs and then there's a very experienced editor brilliant at cross cutting.

The stuff that happens on stage is the skill of a live gallery/studio director (Jonathan Bullen) with at least 6 cameras, one or two on jibs, which s/he is calling up on screen. What we see on our teles is what s/he is calling live or "as live".

Technique and Gut Feeling
You could break it down and analyse it, but it's the director's gut feeling call for when and what camera comes up. You've seen them at work, it's an incredibly specialised and highly stressful job. You know: "cam 1 zoom- cu on girl-stick with her"; 3 pull back; 4 get ready for a swoop; 1 cue Ant and Dec.

Ant & Dec now saying you didn't expect that. But the team in on the act knew it and had A&D prompted.

Before the live performance, a producer would have "run VT" - ie. played in Boyle's background bit. Look hard and you can see the break on the Youtube VT.

The floor manager will have had the VT countdown cued and be counting in Simon and hushing the audience.

And then after the show the prod would take the ROT (recording of transmission) and recut that for a new package. All this with a committee: Exec, series prod, etc throwing in their comments/critique in. From the offline to online for any segment can sometimes involve several cuts. You simply have to love this way of working otherwise...

At least that's how I remember it working on the various Ents/News shows on BBC TV I worked on.

If your class are interested in this then I'd recommend a live TV multi-camera training course and visits to studios. BTW if you're in the UK etc I'd rec University of Westminster.

This is something TV has always argued it does supremely well, particularly ENTS TV. Susan Boyle is fab value, but the VT package is a TV moment, as much a YT hit, because it's multilayered from a multi talented team.

Recent add on: looking back, the first show of BGT is actually pre-recorded, so while a lot of the above applies, the producer would have had time to construct a bigger overall package of director, and segment producer cut.

On the credits I counted close to 100 personnel, about a third of these would have been directly involved in on the day production and VT. There were 7 offline editors; 4 P&Ds and 4 Exec Prod. Here's the credentials of Jonathan Bullen - the studio director.


p.s The skillset and choroegraphy into an event like this is highly refined over many years. And it woud be a real joy for me to see a new digital media company mimic this to this degree.

BTW if you liked this, you might like:
How I made the:
  • Obama 100 Days video for the UK South Bank commemorations, featuring a live ensemble e.g. violins, Bass etc, and with minutes to spare
  • You can find a slew of videos and articles on, which I have recently redesigned ( thanks to Mediastorm) for the big shout.
  • You can also follow me on Twitter as I look forward to an interesting summer of assigments

Friday, May 29, 2009

Fight Club Videojournalism - Breaking the rules

Breaking the rules, because the truth, there are none.

Guidelines, yes.

"Stop trying to control everything and just let go".

Once you learn to ride the bike, then you might want to try the wheelie.

Excerpt taken from forthcoming *thingy exploring The cool hunters.

First talked about five years ago whilst presenting and chairing the day of digital paraphernalia for The UK Film Council - UKs govt film funding body.

Videojournalism Training from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.

GOTO for wider screen version

Thanks to Robb Montgomery for shooting me.

I spent three days in Chicago doing a masterclass in editing and two days of Advance VJ, which I can tell you is no way near enough.


Interesting point here, Robb or for that matter a traditional TV person could see from the rushes how many times I have taken non-standard shots, the sort of shots that should not even be digitised.

I make a habit of this often shooting unconsciously and there have been many occasions when I'll give the camera to an interviewee and ask them to shoot a POV.

The point? It's the things we do not plan, the mistakes that often yield unique creative processes. I know of some brilliant technicians (camera etc) who've worked on shows and told to undo what they've learned for the desired affect.

It's difficult but there is a way of making professional mistakes, which to a director might work.

In The Usual Suspects, as the accused lined up for the first time, with Benicio Del Toro doing the funny accent and everyone laughing that scene was not in the original script. Singer, the director keeps it in for good reason.

Del Toro's flatulence game ( unknown to the viewer) makes his fellow actors laugh and shows them to be a team - needed for the script. In Good Morning Vietnam, Robin Williams ad libs his way through.

There is an underlying philosophy to this and as way of illustration consider the following.

If you look at the way we teach 4- 6 years old Art, it's free flowing with abandonment. Then when we get to secondary school we are given form and process.

And by the time we get to university, if that's the case, our sense of identity revolves around rigid form. The intuition, the impromptu thought has been civilised.

To re-capture the peripatetic essence of the 4 year old, we must try to return to those values (small, "v").

How do we do this? And how can we make use of those imperfections and rawness.

How does Pollock know when an action brush works?

This summer, in conjunction with one of bastions of Art and Culture, The South Bank, I look forward to distilling some of this either as a workshop or video. Incidentally the Obama Video on (Click US Flag) is slowly catching. Thanks to those who've fed back.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Videojournalists- how much do you get paid?

Back in the day, 15 years ago, there was some disparity in VJ pay scale and fee. As I recall the discrepancy amounted to some 20,000 UKP that's some $31,182 odd with small change today.

I doubt that's the case today. I have advised a few companies on what I think is a good rate for starters which tends to hover around the mid 20s sterling.

The pay rates way back though were very significant in determining your entry into the TV/broadcast market with commensurate pay.

Again, though this has happened quite recently with some newspaper VJs I have trained warp-driving into TV, with the explosion in Vjism, that's unlikely to be the norm.

Now should VJ be paid more than a crew? Should a solo singer command more than a a band?

It might be comparing chalk and cheese, but yes I do know of several VJs whose rates match what they would say is their experience and risk assessment at bringing prime bacon home.

And what about rates elsewhere? Well I have negotiated my rates working for broadcast networks along a mutual agreement of primary and secondary sales. It's a significant difference btw and is calculated along duration over a fixed time.

This system is not so uncommon from that also expressed by a range of broadcast fee formats on national networks. I once put together this news package which took me four days of tooing and froing, partly because the producer moved slow, but at the end of the four days for an 8 minute piece the princely cheque I picked up amounted to 200 UKP.


BTW Call this an RB. Funny how RT has caught on but RB never did.

Angela Grant from Newsvideographer posed the question. I'm in some vein at the moment with a couple of initial chapters for said book about this, but that's the skinny.

Skinny? Sorry I have been watching The Wire. I can't even understand my own self now.

And finally apologise if you're a regualar follower of these musings. I'm in the marking zone at the mo, hence the scarcity

Monday, May 25, 2009

Videojournalism film not enough - viewmagazine redesign

More often than not I'm talking about video and visual journalism, but invariably the film is not enough - at least online.

I have been lecturing in aspects of online design from 96. Truth, I've come to enjoy the project creative process, stemming from my last job as creative director with a Soho ad company re-active, more so than the nuts and bolts of sitting down designing.

That said I found time today to overhaul the front page of viewmagazine and will set about soon css-updating some of the pages.

Some of the marketing mantras we came to live by in Soho included:

  • Ensuring a logical viewer pathway
  • that everything on a page had rhyme and reason
  • User-friendly
  • Creative, delivering an experience and an aesthetic

Journalism sites, compared to corporate ones, thanks to a slew of social networking utilities, and a new web 2.0 design openness have truly come a long way and the televisual experience is an increasing feature.

Features such as mogulus enable us to stream live news, though aside from the likes of the G20, live lecture, weburnalists are finding original live content streaming an interesting challenge.
Bit a deference to the News editor now eh at the traditional station.

The New York Times' Reader 2.o has something of the zeitgeist about it.

But one facet which is becoming a key issue is languages. Consider this: stats passed to me from a marketing friend.

Ten years ago, the web was said to be read by 70% English speakers. Today that figure has inverted with non-English speaking being more dominant.

So one of the strategies is to devise a landing page, in my case in Mandarin, Italian, and Spanish for the associated media.

I was expecting to be in Beijing this summer but couldn't commit the 6 weeks required for the gig. It seems like it's going to be a busy summer nonetheless, so expect a few more languages to crop up.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The revolution is not videojournalism

Revolution is not videojournalism from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.

The revolution is not videojournalism. The revolution is NOT videojournalism

The idea that multiskilling is a breakthrough must be treated with some disdain. More than 2000 years ago the Greeks were responsible for a word that showed we had the capacity to call on widely different skills.

The dictionary indexes it as :"Polymath".

Back to modernity, media institutions knew, but ignored it. Naturally for the unions and for the media old guard, the notion that one person could do all this was as likely to happen as Dick Cheney adopting an Iraqi child.

Thankfully technology brought the media folk to their sense, alas some too late. Protecting 30% margin profits at the behest of new working practices has proven to be the wrong strategy.

The revolution is something else
In some ways we've seen and smelled the real breakthrough, particularly with ware like Twitter and blogs. Elsewhere in videojournalism it's been obfuscated, subsumed or suffocated under new corporate bureaucracies. McLuhan will have no doubt had something to say about this.

Twitter and to a degree blogging had no forerunners. You could argue diaries, and the telegraph - long deprecated - forced us to write in a way that was either personal, or economically with words since charging was by the word.

But no, the seismic revolution hasn't happened. A cultural, semiotic, aesthetic, phenomenological revolution is still as rare as gonzo was in 1950. In the 60s we got the breakthrough.

Having the tools to do the same thing makes no sense. The boffins who cracked (horsepower) motor engines might as well have devised the car to be pulled by a horse. We've neither changed the value and inter-relationship of news discourse or in the manner in which we seek to report it. All we've done is protect the brand.

New Ideations
Burma VJ by acclaimed director Anders Østergaard is a refreshing piece of theatre that mashes the form, RTS Winners Newsnight's 10 days to war, which left me breathless, during my RTS judging task, opens the door for what may seem radical but is a logical window to enter and explore further sans high budgets.

Perhaps Jerry Mander who wrote Four arguments for the elimination of televsion was right.

The medium is not reformable. Speaking of TV reform is as "absurd as speaking of the reform of the technology such as guns", Mander says.

Videojournalism, like photography's impact on the image, demands more. Its manifestation deserves better.

Its delivery, not as a tool, but its underlying psychology of visual thinking and ability to deprecate arcane agendas requires we look to develop a fresh language to deal with the myriad issues and stories rather than rehashing more of the same.

SXSW 2009 podcast- The film is not enough. Presented by David at Austin Texas.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Manic Media Mondays through week

What a week it's been.

Which is why shattered as I am, I can't bloody sleep again, so took to writing more about digital media advancing ideas that Apple Pro profiled of my work way back when - actually 2006.

Sounds so dated now, that's the speed at which we're imploding. Any wonder when the cream of the UK's TV industry got together two days ago to discuss whether TV was in crisis, what they couldn't answer was: Er, what happens in five years time?

I have a dream. Sorry Mr King. I have a dream, an under ambitious one, but as I sit down and write towards theories on video, it is the next phase of story telling.

We have surpassed the paradigm of the DIY journalist or All Platform journalist, coined by CNN. The new paradigm is of a new semiotic for the digital age. It may be one we're yet to understand, so in its infancy, you could poo poo it.

I often refer to the idea of designing video, rather than shooting. And then some, because, then the video is not enough, which was the talk at SXSW.

So the week in 15 seconds.

Fabulous big ups to one of our Masters students, Laura, whom when she posts her story I'll provide the links.

But at our get together yesterday of past and present she regaled us with a jaw-dropping story of how at 9.30, trying to get an interview with Joanna Lumley campaigning for the Gurkas to have the right to stay in the UK, by 12.oo she, Laura, yep, was in Downing street with Lumley.

OMG. How she got passed Downing Street Security, should in itself win Young journalist of the year.

Then Deniel Buxton from the class of 2004 swept us away. She picked up a Sony silver Award for a series of programmes she produced called "Black in the USA"- ( have i go this right!)


The Sony awards are the equivalent to the Oscars for radio - there!

Andrew Otto - one of our Maters students took the most extraordinary pics of the creme of british broadcasting and in particular the BBC. Whilst Alberto probably went insane blogging.

( I'll go look for the links)

Met an actor and news reader yesterday, Sandy who has the most extraordinary one woman show, which I want to. I need to film. Its called Correspondent and profiles a moral dillemma story of a correspondent who's actions and reportage have deep consequences.

Wait, I haven't finished!

But I have got to dash now, so I'll pick this up later. First batch of RSS reads

Thursday, May 21, 2009

How to blag yourself into No, 10

This week, I'll post a story how one of our Masters students got into No. 1o

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A crisis in television - four British heaveyweights comment


It's nearing the end of a 2 day conf on journalism in crisis, and to round off the sessions, comes the key note debate.

BBC TV Director of News Helen Boaden
TV has lost 1.9 percent= 460,00 adults in current affairs =1.1 percent
13.7 percent fell amongst young people

She's asking of the resilience in tv and says its not nearly as bad. Says fmr BBC DG, brill as he was for forging net underestimated audience.

Says audiences consistently choose BBc News. 10,0clock News gets 5 million people each day.

She's now extolling virtues of news and current affairs.

PAUSE. So this post could continue like this of me documenting BBC good practice, but then that's me doing PR. But then you'd not expect Helen Boaden to critique the status quo.

Changing media audiences has a profound affect on journalism, she goes on to say. It's not a crisis about broadcast journalism but about all journalism.

Hopes something positive emerges from the fall out of these changes.
when chips are down people come back to TV journalism e.g. credit crunch, snow.

Simon Bucks talking about how the BBC can give away content for nothing - a clearly unfair situation. Er, this tussle between the two is as old as Cain and Abel.

Says online news model is expanding, so qu about is TV news outdated is missing the point. Simon says surely we should be asking about videojournalism

Says 9 million unique viewers. Up 80 percent =160 million pages.

8 mill people watching TV news means things are not that bad.

Dorothy Byrne, on does journalism have a future?
Yes, is her answer. We're going through tough times. Channel 4 will stay as it is, a public service remit. Now the sell about Channel 4, my old work place.

Talking about some original web ideas. Applauding all the others. Kumbaya moments. Says Current Affairs is being squeezed. Says that's really Sad.

Unreported world
- touting C4s programme.

Robin Elias kicks off with his diversity credentials in getting new ethnic people into the media. How it's changed over the years. Disengagement is a serious business with diverse groups.

TV is coming up with ingenious ways of getting things on the net. He says they must convince broadcasters of their merits. CJs will enhance it, but will not replace journalism.

We're back to Abdul Kawari, 23 years an editor who sends money back to his parents in Somalia, used his background and contacts to get interview with hijackers.

Talking about a shoot by his Yao, a new videojournalists who shoots, edits a voices and nabbed Ben Chapman.

Oh boy hasn't ITN come along way from barring VJs from ITN when I was a starting off as a VJ back in the 90s.

UK's youngest dad, how not to play the press

Fish and chips, late night Friday booze binges, MPs on the expenses take, Buckingham Palace, the weather. Oh and Wimbledon.

Take your pic, but the complexities of British culture, as with many other countries is wrapped up not by any one singularity.

Occasionally, just occasionally, a new Britain emerges to fight its place.

Months back it was the shocking ( Did I say shocking!) story of a 13 year old becoming the UK's youngest dad.

In what became a freak circus show, the media staked out Alfie Patten's home, feeding curiosity news to frankly what might at times be termed a hypocritical news hungry public.

Hypocritical because for all the moral outrage, you sneaked, even devoured the news of this saga tut tutting as matters unfolded.

And the news sold well. Great ratings hits for The Sun

Was he the dad? For the perceived view fed by the media was that his parents were trying to cash in on his fame. Infamy! Fame! You call it.

Then other boys, potentially fathers, stepped forward. Their folks too reported by the press appeared to want in on the action. This was good cheque-book journalism.

You tell us your story and we'll pay you wads of cash.

Except that this hasn't quite been the case in a turn of the story that's left the subjects at the centre of this storm, more than stumped.

The real non story?
Yesterday, an injunction was lifted by the courts following a paternity test. It barely got into the news, in stark contrast to its running serial commentary months back.

On Radio 4, PR supremo Max Clifford whose skills at "promote and protect" is legendary and took up representing the family had some news.

All the monies promised the family had not been forthcoming. And Alfie, the youngest dad there is, is in fact Not the dad after all. Media reports say Alfie now 14 years old was extremely distraught.

He may not get into the Guinness Record book, but away from the frenzy, you pause to think, here's a kid who's been dragged through the media, who's mentally- however much- whipped himself up for his new role only then to be told, "Eh mate it's not yours after all".

'Don't worry though cuz yer famous, you poor sod"

"Yeah and that video of you, it's going to haunt you for probably all your life"

How and why the story got out in the first place is something I'd want to know, which Channel 4 may well provide in a documentary.

But it's a poor reminder of the dynamic workings of the media and the Warholism's fame factor spinning out of control.

It's a sad reminder of how a young naive boy, who should have been protected from the system, was left high and dry, even if one national newspaper reported by The Guardian has agreed to set up a trust fund for the baby.

Buckingham Palace?? To that list we might now add Alfie Patten for sadly the wrong, very wrong reasons.

By the way did you know teenage pregnancies in the UK rank amongst the highest in Europe.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Video journalist, AFPTV

Video journalist, AFPTV

This job is located in Europe - Paris and London (map)

A journalism in crisis - not really!

Snatch the toast, down the orange juice, last check of my case.. laptop, charger, hard drive.... I'm off.

In minutes my university will open the floor for a two day event examining many facets of questions and thesis that journalism is in crisis.

It's a loaded statement full of vim.

Newspapers are closing, tv is losing figures, traditional journalism as you might know it looks under threat, the fourth estate is having its teeth wrenched out with pliers; there is no hope.

But does this receding pulse in journalism as you know it signify a crisis? And if not ( I don't what planet you're on, someone's thinking) what does?

Could I suggest perhaps that it's not journalism in crisis, but the custodians of a genre we have become familiar with that is badly feeling this era. The loss of jobs anyway you cut it is deeply wounding. But there are also new jobs, that had not been invented five years ago emerging for a new breed of info gatherers.

Yes, they may not have the attributes of a Murrow or Paxman, but then we all started somewhere.

Journalism always in crisis
And by the way journalism-as-you-knew-it has always been in crisis. Addison and Steele's equitone approach would not have bode well in eth 18th century, as did the first time pictures were featured in newspapers 20th C., or when radio and TV were born, and more acutely still cable and satellite flung itself onto our laps.

Sometimes too, the fat we live off requires genuine intro-reflection. As one newspaper exec put it recently, the fact that some UK newspaper groups are pulling in a £1m profit every month is in their eyes simply not good enough.

Damn! There goes the CEO's purchase of that new yacht around the Caribbean.

I may or may not be required to speak tomorrow on how TV has been affected by all this new change. My head of department has been wound up like a toy on stand by; nervous energy brrr, nervous energy.

Frankly, as a general view, I'm likely to say very little has changed. That is with a caveat.

If 2005 it looked dire, a hang-over from 2000 when as a dot com executive I too think I smelt the whiff of napalm in the morning, in 2009 there's a sense amongst TV that we're riding this thing.

There was a time you couldn't squeeze a conversation about who was coodling whom at the last Christmas party without wondering if there would be another one - Christmas party.

But then, the caveat - the execs with stabilising pockets and an expansive strategy, often shielded from the ravages of advertising's flight syndrome, got busy innovating.

Whatever you knew as a new media boffin, they wanted to know. Conferences charged £1000 a delegate and they flocked to learn social media, the new plug in, the rationalisation of irrational behaviour, this thing called videojournalism, and this "bizarre" thing called Multimedia.

Bizarre because we already do multimedia. Doh!

Last year a BBC friend showed me an internal memo listing twelve points at how they were taking new media head on. It was impressive to say the least. Next week I'll bring you an interview with the recently appointed head of BBC multimedia news, Mary Hockaday.

So given the correction, long overdue in the media industry, a b**ch if you're in the stock broking business as it happens every seven years, the media is undergoing some form of transformative correction. Yes you too can get it in on the act, with linitations, if you're a twitterer or blogger.

Question? have you noticed that when the banks collapse, it's those nasty pesky banker CEO types, but when journalism goes belly up, it's new media's faults. What perverse psycho analysis! brilliant!!

The Margaret Thatchers said
Youtube if you will, but we're not for tubing. Bar humbug! Four years on everyone's youtubing and more. And the clever ones are leveraging their existing media, whilst cracking down on copyright infringement.

But if my tone comes across as "meeja land's all hunkeedoree", it would be a wiser TV exec still who would know complacency is a word in the media dictionary behind "compost".

That many of the traditional media have realigned their thinking is testament to Darwin's laws. But the radicalisation of change, whilst it's slow down in momentum, does not mean its not stirring for a new wave.

Note: slow down in momentum is not the same as companies closing. The big changes in 2005-7 are only now really taking affect.

So this new wave we simply don't know what that is, yet. There are few citadels of the new media e.g. Huffington Post to emerge and challenge the guard of traditional media. But the trend analysers would have us tread carefully.

Computers more intelligent than people, IS on the cards. It's a matter of calculus and a few micro chip laws. Newsgathering will find new pathways. You and I as consumers will be better served, because... because.. some bright spark is already looking at ways to make news you can use, truly usable.

So right now, I'm emerging from the tube station, having penned this on my iphone.

Journalism in crisis? By the sounds of the British MP debacle, journalism looks like being in good health.

Granted it's one incident, albeit a soap opera series, but if anything as the academics and industry folk gather at this conference, the story here for me is how to look at the glass half full.
To those who don't see a crisis, but an opportunity to solidify journalism's new growth. Journalism in crisis? Ah no, there is a crisis in journalism, to some at least.

Last minute changes occuring, but here's where you can catch up with the two day event

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Interview

What is videojournalism? An extension of news' semiotic or a new language for video story telling?

This was written in 2000

"Videojournalism is an advance on television news production - a shift away from the predictable appproach television has stuck to doggedly since its inception.

It is next generation television: story telling in which you are not be bound by the many constraints of traditional news production.

As a movement the form merges a graphical and photojournalistic stanza; a poster cover depiction of the moving image, where each shot matters, each shot counts.

If Capa lived to capture images on light weight, hi-tech cameras, he'd be the classic videojournalist and his dictum that if you're not close enough you haven't got the shot would still count."

But how much has changed since? The interview - an informal idea - is based on the simple premise of sharing. This week I'll post the first, in which Rob Chiu an amazing motion graphics and film making meets Ken Walker, an artist who plays with large scale. Here's a trailer

And from that interview being documented are kernals of knowledge that inform a new craft, one which can only enhance our understanding of visual form by critquing that which exists before us.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Health in Gaza

Sent to me by a former MAJI (Masters in Journalism student 2006/7) Victoria Baux, from Al Jazeera, which she describes as the most powerful piece of videojournalism she has seen.


Before he left to join google, Newsnight's Peter Barron gave me this interview.

The write up goes as follows:
"With ad revenue in freefall, the BBC licence fee under severe pressure and online news sources rapidly expanding, this session will examine whether we need – or can any longer afford – journalism on the small screen".

The Chair of this debate, bringing together experts in the industry and academia at the university where I lecture in the 19th & 20th of May, is Nick Pollard, former Head of Sky News.

He's joined by:
  • Helen Boaden, Director of BBC News
  • Simon Bucks, Associate Editor, Sky News
  • Dorothy Byrne, Head of News and Current Affairs, Channel 4
  • Robin Elias, Managing Editor, ITN
My head of journalism, the principle organiser suggested he would like me to join the panel, logistics and events on the day allowing. He spotted something, that feeling perhaps he needed an outsider.

The Journalist Outsider
I'm the outsider. I'll explain.

Firstly, nothings broken! Producing a conference of this size with the said contacts is a herculean exercise in VIP contact management and value. Not least getting all your experts' diaries free on the day, so we'd want to be there. I'd like to be there.

There's also no doubting that between this august line-up the audience will be drawn a vision, a reality of broadcasting in the future, which will be deeply knowledgeable and insightful.

But you could also subscribe to McLuhan's notion of :
If you want to know about the water why ask a fish.

The panelists will be talking about TV journalism, so we're on diamond-hard Terra ferma.

But if there is a threat to TV News, if there is an alternative, if the net has something up its sleeve what do the alternatives have to say?

There are three broad threats to TV News: technological, creative, and financial. Though financial is a linked the two.

For the technological threat, shareware platforms, play out services such as the BBC iplayer and the rest, like many I have an informed view, but I'm not in the lab and wouldn't know how to calculate the ohms variance on a capacitor from writing code.

For that then I'm not the right person. If you follow my posts you'll know I'm passionate about videojournalism, multimedia and innovation, whether in the production process alone or its application to television.

I have worked in TV, know most of the panelists by sharing a stage with them at past conferences or worked for them, so like so many people could provide an intelligible view, but I'd easily defer to the MIT technologist or TV Execs calling their IT board level strategic meeting.

If 2005 was the apotheosis of heightened TV exec nerves (what is this thing with social networks?), 2009, despite the C.crunch is a more assured time for TV to take stock.

A Clearer TV Journalism Future?
How? Well in part most of the foresight technologies that threatened in 2005 are now here. New ones continue to emerge, but truthfully nothing is, or was as devastating as Youtube. Nothing appears to threaten that dominance and destabilise the present equilibrium.

Now everyone knows what everyone else knew back in 2005. Sky has rolled out an ambitiously successful web service, Channel 4's highly unique show is on the web, as is ITN's.

And the BBC has recently turned its newsroom into a multimedia one (an exclusive video interview and tour follows shortly with the BBC's head of Multimedia News, Mary Hockaday). Embed video is no longer a fad and then there's the Iplayer for good measure.

So like I said informed knowledge:
  • I worked under the chair of this session, Nick Pollard for a number of years and interviewed him recently.
  • Julian March Sky's supremo for their web manifestations showed me some of what he had planned at Sky way three years back. Simon Bucks I have met many times. Here he is inspecting my Sony A1 camera at an ONA meeting.
  • Some time back, I met with Robin Elias at ITN to assist in a programme I had in mind. I worked at ITN for a couple of months, and spent many good days of five years at Channel 4 News freelancing.

Six degrees there, connecting everyone, Not so an outside after all? But I am.

My Views
I have an onotological belief.

That whilst the web has been a major player and all the networks occupy the space, and the value of their content has not diminished in news terms.

In fact, as a jury member judging their output at this year's Royal television Society Awards for Broadcast Innovation I would say the bar has been raised. However my belief which qualitatively I'm exploring is that this is not it.

Bound by semiotics, with one eye on social behaviour, creatively there are horizons we could touch now to strengthen this thing called news. To that trend extrapolations, and various qualitative procedures yield something which my gut's been feeling.

Last year the BBC failed in its bid to launch local broadband networks to support its brand of videojournalism. The BBC will pitch again and I reckon win.

Video journalism offers, or at least should do, a new language of information enlightenment. It's value is not so much its speed, economics, or swift turnaround but as viewers will know from my magazine, something within the vein of rich media.

Videojournalism also allow for a levelling of the news agenda. Ti's the night of long so far in the UK with thinly sheathed knives out.

The mix of old journalism and the new
The Telegraph, a newspaper, has with good old fashion journalism demonstrated in sequel upon sequel the public's insatiable thirst for the story of the year, thus far: MPS expenses. This news could be strengthened further with quick turnaround vj docs, which would also broaden the agenda.

Incidentally is the word TV becoming redundant with this congealing of different bodies e.g newspapers online, Manchester Evening News, The Guardian?

TV News will stay, but I'm equally interested in how the web and Now journalists work in new discourses and news that has the value of that sweeping us at the moment. The death of regional newspapers, for which many TV outfits depend is in itself an issue.

On a train recently I over heard a passenger, an employee of a municipal council in South London lambast their uselessness. A prime territorial ground for journalism, fact gathering, and videojournalism, I thought.

The future of News is not so much that it won't be on TV, but that it will continue to attract viewers by the nature of what they cover and how.

Regional, closer-to-home TV will increasingly matter and the way we do it for TV does not necessarily make it work online. I guess that's what makes me an outsider.

Either way Journalism in Crisis at the university of Westminster, you should be there, Otherwise here's the link for viewing online on the 2 days and the blog from students.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Is photography future the video frame grab?

Esquire ups the ante in picture aesthetic. No not the model!

It was always going to happen and has been on the cards for yonks with newspapers grabbing TV frames.

Occasionally it draws ire from the photojo community, but as this shot from Esquire which prides itself on glossy pics demonstrates, the video frame is not to be sniffed at.

Yes, according to Esquire this is a video frame as opposed to a photo pic, which is likely to prompt scores of plenary sessions and conferences asking: Is photography's future the video frame grab?

There's a good article on the Nieman Journalism Lab site revealing what the snapper used: a Red Camera

My two pence for the relationship between videojournalism and photography goes something like this:

I worked with a Nato-assigned photojo. In his own words he hated video cameras. He couldn't see the "moment" when using video. As a videojournalist we exchanged notes. Videojournalism for me, I told him, was a dynamic flux between the instant, situating oneself to anticipate the inter frame, the "visual moment" and prompting the appropriate narrative, where applicable. e.g. anti aesthetic VJ shoot
I do a lot of work now with some amazing photojos, e.g. Yannis Kontos, who get the video moment as well which can yield interesting results c.f. pixels without borders
Incidentally with a dop adapter to small handheld cam like the sony a1, I'm quite ofay with this cine-look here, which will get even better in the future.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Burma VJ

Many congrats to 'Burma VJ', by filmmaker Anders Østergaard, which unveils how a Burmese video journalist reported Burma in September 2007.

And the form still has bags of cinematic license in story telling to go, but Anders points the way.

In 2000 whilst relaunching the form we called this swarming, mass cameras released and then cannibalised for its content

It changed our world and we cried anyway

Car seat belt.
The volvo PV544 had the first belt in 1959, but the resistance to wearing it en mass had to be enforced with laws. It was the Czechs that led the way in 1969 and despite speed dummies being pounded to show the damage we incur in accidents, we resisted. Despite the lives it saved, we cried about its introduction anyway.

Produced in the 1800 from a simple rubber sole design, in the 30s two brothers began to build their own franchise after differences: Adidas and Puma. Initially targeted at athletes, before it became fashionable, your parents would have resisted buying you a pair because of its extravagance. Shoe makers stored up their own anger fearing a dip in sales; some made their shoes look like trainers, and still do. During the NY transit strike of 1980s as people were forced to walk miles between Queens and Manhattan, the sneaker really took off. Despite its obvious benefits to our feet, we cried about the second shoes we needed to buy.

The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell, played by Gary Cooper chronicled the trials of Mitchell's attempts at proving the worth of air flight and air power. The Wright brothers were having their own battles with the military, who were initially dumbfounded at this contraption and its possible use. But the Wrights and Mitchell persevered. They needed the funding, which only the military with deep pockets could provide. In spite of what we think of about planes today, our best brains back in the early 1900s lamented its introduction.

Channel Tunnel
An hour and a bit travel to Paris from London sounds a no brainer, but mooting the idea of a channel tunnel, circa 1870s, brought red to the eyes of the exec sea farers. Building a tunnel would not only not work, but it would be highly unsafe to travel beneath the sea and open up Britain for invasion. Also think what would happen if there was a leak. Despite this the channel tunnel finally burrowed through. Can't think what we'd do without it, but the sea execs still wish it wasn't here.

Printing Press
Aw shucks you know that story, except Guggenheim, whilst he was the first, wasn't the only one at it and the keepers of the Christian faith were apoplectic some businessman had wrestled power away from them.

The Internet.
The whole planet is interconnected - a new electromagnetic cloud to worry about. Newspapers were last seen in museums. P-interfaces using souped up blue tooth allow you to vocally call up your requests on your system. The wwp (philanthropic) has made funds available for micro payments to be credited to your account as a content provider, after the top 20,000 leading newsproviders protested by turning their screens black for a day. It's believed a bit like the Marshall Plan at some point the slush fund will be work itself and people accept paying micropayments for content. Pubs, clubs and scores of outdoor venues relay films to their clients on virtual screens. The world has not collapsed as feared. Webernalism has usurped journalism - a system that loops in and out with info. Despite all this we lamented the introduction of this new thing.

It is within our nature to reisist the new. It's happened through out history and will continue, and we survive.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Barack Obama: 100 days (live event, London)

Barack Obama: 100 days (live event, London)

QT movie of live video projection at the Purcell Rooms, South Bank Centre (UK) to accompany the original live score of emerging talented composer and conductor Shirley Thompson and a classical ensemble.

This piece was nerve wrackingly put together with hours to spare after the White House's Pete Souza made available pics under creative commons.

Additional material from Obama campaign site.

It looks like Sound Slides but was cut in FCP using key frames to give it rostrum movement.

For more details on the making on this and other multimedia features go to

Young people plead the future

Stay with this. You're inclined to initially think Schmutlzy, or what a young person has to offer in the debate over climate and the environment. If the authors here ever want to turn this into a cinema Videojournalism piece, I'm ready.

Thanks to noemi for the link

Art videojournalism -Why the Arts and websites should embrace art-videojournalism

24 hour news at an end says former Sky News boss Nick Pollard from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.

You have to give credit to the suits, for the primacy of video programme making as a commodity to sell invariably boils down to news.

Trouble is it's transient, often too transient. When was the last time you kept a newspaper. No wait! If you're like me, almost everyday.

Today I threw away video and design magazines and a small mountain of newspapers dating back to 1999.

But I digress, my point is the journalism in video, as in videojournalism can be a swift transaction that takes a lot of effort to sate the appetite, with not the best of returns, literally.

Fifteen years ago, we came by the same answer, so the videojournalism station I worked for diversified and some of its popular and non-transient programmes involved arts and culture (A&C).

For the Vjs we could be more creative with the form. For the listeners a chance to have us respond to ideas featured in their local newspapers or quite often sent in. Yep social programming circa 1990s

I never quite understood how important A&C was in the early phase of my broadcast career, but over the years have looked to consume much I can get my hands on, because as you likely know more than I do, everything we do is seeped in A&C.

It's an unbroken timeline, unless you count dark ages.

From the Internet, a revised version of the Victorian telegraph; to news of import captured in their own way by the artists of their time e.g. Caravaggio and Velasquez, A&C is our DNA.

Today, the Guardian newspaper featured: Culture on Television: a lost art? The article illustrates how the disappearance of a major Arts TV programme, The South Bank, is bad news, and asks whether digital channels could provide an alternative.

Arts - Videojournalism's Ratings Winner
Should media execs and newspaper proprietors be concerned? Why yes! For one thing, done right it's a ratings winner.

"When you read the annual report it's the arts programmes that create value, our content is at the heart of what we do", says Channel 4's arts commissioner Jan Younghusband.

Another quote in the article that caught my attention was how "Arts organisations are becoming producers". This indeed is nothing new. But the use of video reportage is relatively a newcomer.

Reporting the arts as a videojournlist is less about the revolution about doing all by oneself, but about relating context and providing a hmmmm insight for others. It's not news, yet can be, so calls on creative video productions and a clarity in reportage.

Somehow the more knowledgeable and worldly you sound the more we're inclined to embrace you, which is why Sister Wendy Becket could become a hit almost overnight. Er, no she's not a videojournalist.

During the summer, I have a number of ideas for the South Bank centre, our own august arts body. Out of the blue last year I produced a report about the Arts and TV and that was well received, but I also intend to illustrate how the brand of videojournalism I have been honing over the years attempts to in some way treat some news events artistically e.g interviews etc.


Because it goes back to the matter of primacy of video making as a commodity, that hopefully the it's something you're likely to come back to watch again and adds value to the quality of news.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

It's all in the pitch - videojournalism freelancing

There's a scene in Black Hawk Down where a nerdy Ewan Macgregor's character explains to a bewildered superior about how the taste of coffee is all in the grind. He's not wrong!

But it had me thinking at the art of story telling Videojournalism, or otherwise and that it's all in the pitch.

As the number of videojournalists explodes, they'll come a time when just as a features editor may commission a writer, it's likely they'll set out their stall for videojournalists to offer stories.

Channel 4's news film fund already does that, not discriminating against full crews or Videojournalists, in so far as the story is right.

And you don't get to the story, without the pitch.

Last week I had the task of listening and reviewing 24 of our Masters students. A post is not the forum to discuss how they fared, but they will know the emphasis we place on this.

Pitching is an art form, and differs across genres, but the basic principle is the same.

In roughly 10 seconds you're going to tell a story that's going to light your listener's fire. In 10 seconds you're going to paint a vivid picture of what could be. In 10 seconds you're going to create an illusion powerful enough for your listener to buy more time from you.

"Uhum tell me more"

Working at Channel 4 News as this recommendation from the Managing Director in 1999 illustrates gave me the chance to observe a facet of pitching and also often refine and make my own.

In fact such is the art of pitching, that I have considered it a chapter in a forthcoming book for a US publisher which is gradually taking shape.

There are two yardsticks that measure the value of a pitch. What is it? And why should I care?

In other words, if you're planning on going for an interview for a media job, chances are you've listened to your potential employer's output and found something to offer that suits their style.

Furthermore, it's got to be a story, which in all likelihood your listener has either not heard before, or you have a unique way of saying it.

Remember it's a pitch, not an exposition of your ability to hold and dispense of a great deal of facts.

And all great stories involve a person or persons you have or will get access to rather than a big themed issue.

And if you're really up to speed you'll spend endless hours sometimes rehearsing it. TV is all about creative ideas and those that know how to speak in that mimetic fashion of experienced pitchers have a career ahead of them.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The video journalists Manifesto-redux soon

The video journalists Manifesto.-redux soon

Q. In 1994 the UK launched its first thirty Videojournalists, then about fifteen every three months to 1998, when the station folded. So where are they and why haven't we heard about them? Next month I interview the man who convinced the papers to part with $50m UKPs for the venture.


1. I am a video journalist: I crave creativity, loathe that which is predictable. It is my job to look for truth.

2. I can move alone in any terrain. Experience is my blanket. Swarming (groups of Vjs coming together) increases my range.

3. I will be told by those who believe they know best that it can't be done. I must accept that they don't understand my job, my limitations. Nothing is impossible.

4. When they look at a blank piece of paper they see nothing, when I look at a blank canvas, I see the orgins of motion graphics, film and information coming together.

5. I start a dialogue. My packages can be open ended, begging further questions and dialogue. My work is never done. Each thread leads into a new tapestry of ideas and dialogue, which I relish. Herein lies the possibilities of deep video linking.

More on the videojournalism manifesto

@Sci Fi London - Artificial life to life

Described as "cutting edge science based on experimental evidence", tomorrow I'll be down at SciFi, London at a uniquely stimulating talk before disappearing on a bank hols Monday into my own research.

I'd strongly request you come down to Sci Fi London if you've any interest at peering at the future of the creation of life through artificial and synthetic life forms.

I'm chairing the debate - a fancy way of saying I'll stay the heck away from any dense debate and let them continue uninterrupted. I got a degree in Applied chemistry, not a PHD

So it features some of the most respected figures in their field, two of whom I have come to know as cohorts on my research programme.

Dr Rachel Armstrong talking here about her cytoplasmic manifesto. The nub, gene theory to explain meaning of life is incomplete.

Preview to SCi Fi London - Rachel Armstrong from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.

And then Bruce Damer whose work in simulating life through synthetic organisms has seen him work with Nasa, among others, will present his video.

Here's the line up from the sci fi London Page

Profesor George Attard School of Chemistry, Southampton, whose diverse research activities span the traditional disciplines of physical chemistry/chemical physics, materials science, biochemistry and immunology.

Peter Bentley Popular Science author whose field of interest includes Evolutionary Computation, Engineering Design, Computer Art, and Artificial Life.

Rachel Armstrong SF author and doctor, who has appeared extensively in the media and at international conferences speculating on the future of humankind, non Darwinian techniques of evolution and the challenges of the extra-terrestrial environment.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Barack Obama 100 days - Photojournalism meets videojournalism- UK Concert South Bank

An early pic and video of yesterday's Barack Obama: 100 Days, an original score composed by one of the UK's most talented composer's, conductor's Shirley Thompson.

I'm changing the audio to stereo some point tomorrow. The video sound version here was recorded from the ambient surroundings of the control room.

There's a whole story around the production of the vid, that I'll post over the weekend. For the meantime, front page of