Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Adam Westbrook on Charlie Brooker’s dissection of the TV news package (and what you can learn from it)

Cross Post from Adam Westbrook's post in which Charlie Brooker derides news construct. Adam points to BBC’s Matthew Price's piece below as a good story. I agree.

Here's a sample of Adams original post below:

We’ve been big fans of Charlie Brooker round these parts for some time, with at least four articles about him on this very blog since 2006. Combining an ability to conduct a withering criticism of television with a brutal and acerbic wit, Brooker has risen to become one of the BBC’s most cherished (but underexposed) properties.

His current series Newswipe on BBC Four, in the UK, is a must watch for anyone in journalism.

For more go here

Here's my response I cross posted.


Adam - superb as always.

There's all sorts of innovative reasons why this video works, As a construct it's free from the classic news template which Brooker lampoons (bout time as well. c.f The Day today Chris Morris), but still remains within the ecosystem of television news' semiotic.

Journalism's classic packaging is a mimetic truncated art of movie story telling that to a great degree takes years to master. The further we've got away from the likes of the Murrow and late Wheeler who implicitly understood the relationship between film making and news making (obviously, many others do now), the more tension there has been between narrative and visual construct form in 2 mins.

What was once fresh and uncontested now needs a face lift, but that's unlikely to happen in television for powerful reasons.

Arguably the best examples of video stories that tend to wow us are individualistic scores whereby the journalist/conductor knows when to modify any number of the different genres of storytelling or invent (small i) the wheel.

Price's piece plays towards a reversioned Romeo and Juliet, the film making is restrained and pathos of the reporter make you care about the two.

Foreign correspondents possess the rare quality of achieving this. They're intuitively joined through shared experiences to their cameraman/woman because of the time spent together and collective knowledge.

It's quite difficult to achieve this as a solo videojournalist, though Travis Fox et al have done so.

The alternative key, I think, to new video making is to look towards new visual languages, rather than hark to traditional ones. Is that at least not what indie directors do? But then if you attempted this you invite stern critique for messing with the form.

Oh incidentally, Price's piece is a feature news piece rather than on the day news, so there's more scope to play with the form in what's expected in the given time constraints.