Sunday, May 29, 2011

What next for Egypt's'Facebook revolutionaries'? Videojournalism Film Poster

James Naughtie featured a piece on the Today Programme - its flagship morning talk radio show - from Tahrir Square titled: What next for Egypt's'Facebook revolutionaries'?

It's worth a listen for the current thinking and also that it features Sarah who tweets as

Sarah a young graduate has been one of the key activists, whose actions has brought her to the attention of United Nations officials, UK parliamentarians who flew her over and Bianca Jagger - who follows her tweets.

She is also one of five people featured in Tahrir Memento on viewmagazine,tv 

Those in the film whose poster I have devised below talk candidly and personally about the revolution in a methodology I call the reflective gaze.

On a related note and to my current Master students I'm supervising, this is an Integrated Multimedia Videojournalism project  where the individual acts as creative director among other things.

Last week we spoke about creating affective posters for the film to be used for the multimedia site.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cinema Journalism - Filmmaking and the News Media @sheffield doc festival

If you're interested in videojournalism and the redefinition of where I believe it's going, then you might be interested in this below. I'll be previewing Tahrir Memento and a methodology for training - apart from what's featured below. My thanks to Charlotte Cook for the invite.

Cinema Journalism - Filmmaking and the News Media

Venue: HUBS C
Saturday 11 June 2011 12:45

In the changing world of print journalism, newspapers and magazines have to adapt quickly to the increasing demand of readers on television, on the net, and even on their phones. In order to address this widening gap between news and technology, traditional print media have begun to incorporate video and film work to heighten, enhance, and even stand for their work. This panel will discuss how media outlets are commissioning and incorporating video and how filmmakers can find a place, and a voice, in this medium.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Controlling fractured time

There was a time when our mum and dads and their mums and dads could read the future. 

They weren't clairvoyants, but there was a certainty to their daily lives.

Then there was a war, and then another and each time these mammoth events fractured timelines, shifted priorities, set new needs.

Things are no more unpredictable - the nature of war - in strife. You know it your own ends when you traverse conflict in your life, at work, at home etc. Its disruptive.

Whatever we had planned is in need of re-evaluation, which fortunately we possess some means to address our own degrees of chaos.

When our world was a TV set, it was simple; we perpetuated a complicity that time lines were linear, events ran as planned. If it was out of sight, it was of no consequences.

One of the biggest shifts to our thinking I believe, a corollary of research and work, has been our awareness - and sub-thinking that events, news, life, the world is messy.  In effect the Internet is a manifestation of this and a conduit-  a global disruptive entity, which gives voice to the many and the many voices come with their polysemous views.

Compounded by uncertainty, jobs, conflict, physical wars, more so than any time I suggest we're living fractured temporalities. But guess what we've found a way to capture them through the non-story. You know, that 15 sec video on Youtube that the TV execs can't quite understand why you watch.

Elsewhere, we try and control fractured states, through meta narratives of events that worm themselves into your new life.  Deleuze - one of the most groundbreaking philosophers said cinema gave a voice to new philosophies, rather than the converse.

This fracturisation is by no means news. Cross reference that giant of film Godard, but it will get more fragmented, and then two things I suggest cross us, subconsciously, a greater need to make sense of things. In film terms we'll be looking to new ways to represent these times, borrowing themes from different art practices.

I experienced this at the BBC Social Summit on Friday. The Guardian's Alan Rusbridger made sense of it wrapping up. We bring our stories to share, but there is no solution. The newspaper as he once said which I'm paraphrasing badly is an incomplete representation of something happening that urges you to buy into its supposed completeness.

Understanding we can aim to but not control fracturisation I think is one way to set about looking for solutions and not being disappointed.

Which comes to our stories. In a world of all-stories, where many possess and feel the need to share their narratives e.g. twitter, facebook etc, fractured stories have become necessary, but they do require a different approach and that's partly what I have spent the last ten years researching from a 25 year media career.
Writing for Blue Print Magazine in 2001 about the new digiratis

That's why some experts talk against the news story with middle, beginning and end. Resolving fracturisation requires new methodologies. That's the basis for a new film I'm looking at called Tahrir Memento which I'll share shortly.  which you can now watch on

Friday, May 20, 2011

Images and soon words from BBC Social Media gathering

Images from BBC Social Media gathering

 From left to right - Peter Horrocks BBC, Meg Pickard, Guardian, Kevin Marsh BBC


Alex Wood creates - this time with the BBC

David Hayward - a senior exec at the journalism college - also someone whom I working with on the videojournalism programme - great guy

Second from Left David, my colleague at the University of Westminster - brill guy

From the Washington Post - how they do Social Media

He needs no introduction online - the indefatigable Adam Westbrook

Guardian man Alan Rusbridger on how the Guardian pioneered live blogging

Dr Claire Waddle - the organiser - and host

Delegates back from tea-break. I'm talking in there somewhere

Sophie - social media and social connector. We luv Sophie

Delegate and host, a PhD researcher on Social Media

I'm talking to the BBC Global Media manager

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

New Global Journalism - The personal philosophy of You

I should not be writing this. In the time it takes to post this, I could have completed marking more papers.

But I'm writing - partly out of catharsis, partly because the flow of marking has been interrupted by what I have read.

We seek fame and fortune for a host of reasons. We live in a fame fraternity now. If you have a blog the corollary of that is courting fame.

Yet fame is tempered by vacuity. We know this from one of the world's most expressive perti-dish television franchised experiments in Big Brother. Attention is ordained for as long as a person is willing to give something; sometimes weirdly behavioural.

But then there's a different sort of fame - more from respect, offerings of wisdom, personal struggles overcoming difficulties of one sort or another.  It's the stuff of biographies, or strong characters in a film overcoming adversity. The fictional but normalised Hollywood formula.

The blog, by default became the repository for expressing an internalisation of thought, aside from other things. The camera in its most fertile years became the object to think with. See Truffaut, Godard Chabrol. The cumulative power of both is a study which is rich in reflection and meaning.

Hollow fame is debunked by personal content - having something to say. If you have nothing to say, say nothing. As a blogger or journalist you consign yourself to the foibles of the Big Brother - fame, but momentarily.

None more so than now, I feel we are wrapped in an era of personal philosophies. I come to this position from seeing student work over the years. Personal philosophy is not grandiose, neither is it unifocal.  It is the result of thinking, not a release from a sudden occurance. Not superficially, but thought of a kind that questions the very tenants that we so blithely believe are fact.

It comes from being outside of your comfort, though yes there are philosophies that are dogma, recycled through our own narrow beliefs. They have very little purpose for the global journalist of the future.

The personal philosophy that becomes well groomed comes from diversity of thought, contextualisation of ideas and a historicity of meaning. Being on an International course can do that. You may not agree with everyone, but you're exposed to different ideas, which leave a nascent footprint.

And then when your write about these, putting yourself within the circle, exposing your own shortcomings and illustrating how you resolved these, the result is a richly digestible insight - your personal philosophy.

It's what makes us grow and should be encouarged.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Filling in the broadcasting links

Today was one of those days.

In writing this up contemporaneously this serves to mark the ocassion, as well as acknowledge a record of that day, as I'll be coming back to this later.

One of the most fundamental things was talking to an ex-boss of 20 years ago Nick Pollard  whom when talking about the outfit we were a part of mentioned it helped him in a lot in his next job.  Pollard said it was the relentlessness of Channel One that prepared him for his next job at Sky News.

I'm afraid if you're reading this, it won't make much sense. That is until i deposited the full write up and contextualise it. But I can tell you there's a hidden gem in the interview and one that provides an important link in broadcasting in the UK.

In one section not recorded. Nick talked about the future of broadcasting. Where we possibly might be in 20 years or less. Firstly 3D television would subsume us. He said he's already seen some work at Sky and how some of the royal wedding was shot in 3D.

However beyond 3D what awaited was holographic television. Nick explained how this would work, something along the lines of surround sound using multiple speakers, but in this case they'd be projectors.

He joked how watching Bolt run would be a strange experience. He'd practicably be running past you in your living room. Were not far off. If CNN could do this in 2008, then whole communities will become available in 2020

I first came across this in 2006 when one of the Californian university's premiered a concert - a symphony orchestra projected on stage, which fooled everyone into believing they were real. There's a write-up somewhere on which I'll dig it up

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A rotten time awaits you job hunting - give up now, or......

In 1999 The Evening Standard lined up a group of us  for a photoshoot under tha banner London's Young Gifted and Black. It included the writer Zadie Smith with her breakthrough book, WhiteTeeth.
Did the photoshoot help? No not really, but the lesson was clear. Forget fame and popularity, get down to the brass tacks of slogging away for that job.

I can without humour or irony say I had the most awful time trying to find a job.

In fact so awful that in my career, which I admit looks rather plush now, came by the most unconventional routes.

Here's the context: I'm a chemistry grad, I'm black male and did not have a network or heritage of broadcasting. Worse by British standards, I had spent my youth growing up in Ghana so had no heuristic knowledge of the UK and spoke with, what is it.... a "funny accent" (Ghanaian/English/German).

The racial qualification will either make you balk, question what I'm on about, or sigh with a "here goes..". I'm self-deprecating enough to take that now. But in 1980s Britain was a different place.
So much so that the then Polytechnic of Central London had a course in one year, I think 1988 when it took on only ethnic minorities, to get them into the broadcast structure.

The point of all this, is evident to you, in ways of your background. We might perceive there to be the perfect template for working in the media, but in reality we all carry a conscious which gets louder and attacks us as we begin the job hunt and nothing materialises.

A week, a month, a year, even two years. Give up!

Or think like the actor, the un new mediast, because in the numbers game, just like that marathon, only those that are mentally strong survive. For all those who spent time at the net, playing tennis; at the crease learning cricket, or training for combat in special units; there have been a spate of articles on Navy Seals recently, it's not all about brains and brawl...

Like the media, they may help but then there are many people like you if you consider the bell curve.
No the point is it's about sheer "bloody staying power", the numbers game, wanting it badly, and how much you're willing to sacrifice.

How much are you willing to give?
Danfung Dennis, an award winning film maker is a story that touches me, for also what I and many others have done or did. Danfung spent what must have been an eternity embedded with a US outfit in Afghanistan. His film has won both critical acclaim and high profile awards. But six years ago, he was not a film maker. That he would self teach himself photography and become good at it, is one thing, but here now is the other quality.

Would you be prepared to stay embedded with an outfit in Afghanistan risking your life on a daily basis (whilst filming someone next to him got shot). Also knowing you did not have a straight commission, and even when you get back and you're showing your film, some senior people are dismissive.  WHAT IS YOUR AFGHANISTAN?

In 1992 mine was South Africa. I'd had two big breaks, working on national TV for the BBC's young persons programme Reportage ( see below) and Newsnight, yet couldn't find work again and so flew out to South Africa which was in the bloody grip of a transition and multiple murders in the townships.

BBC Reportage from david dunkley gyimah on Vimeo.

This post is not long enough for me to talk about risks, and I didn't see it that way, but I'd come to realise an important dictum: "No one owed me anything" Even my great lecturers at Falmouth were not responsible for making my career.

The person responsible for you, is YOU. And that's where the long game comes in. It will get tough, and many will fall; it will get tiring and many will opt for a different path; it will get to a point where you have no money, and the sales job will come to your rescue.  BUT.

But, if you firmly believe you have something to offer you and others, then do not give up.  You need not seek anyone's validation, if you want to strike out getting the big one. You should already be doing that now, and as you accumulate rejections letters bear this in mind, it is not just about your ability, but a myriad of factors ( see last post).

It got to a stage, when if I couldn't get that job I convinced myself it was their loss. Job seeking is a communion of sorts, where both parties need to fill they're in it for the right reasons. Our Masters students will remember one of our recent speakers who turned down a huge job, because it wasn't right for him. Good for him!

And know this too, they say in the media, the difficult job isn't the first one, which often happens because someone you know helps out, but the second where you're competing as you might have the first time when you didn't know anyone.

It's tough the second time too, because your conscious tells you, you deserve this. You know. .. " I have done this already..". Knowing this then how do you up your chances? If you've spent the best part of a year responding to work - that's saying something. If you had access to film gear and you never made a film, that's saying something. If you wanted to write for a newspaper but you couldn't be bothered to either set up or maintain a regular blog. THAT'S SAYING SOMETHING!

Question is what you should be saying first. There's a reason why largely people that work had are rewarded and when they are, we largely share in their success. Impossibility is nothing!

And one last thing... it will come to pass. You're only feeling this way now because you're in that way. Three years on hopefully you'll forget you ever felt anxious.

David Dunkley Gyimah, a senior lecturer and knowledge transfer supervisor is nuts about films, documentary, online and videojournalist, spending way too much time on it. He'll be a panelist at the Sheffield Doc festival. His film Tahrir Memento, will feature on his site soon.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger removes post - a Rotten time awaits....

So this has got to be strange. Yesterday I posted on Rotten Time Awaits Masters students looking for jobs, unless they stay in there....

Today that post has been removed. NOT BY ME!

So where did it go?  If this has happened to you before please let me know.

Here's the evidence.

Ei Voila.. and then it reappeared again. Beats me!

However when I click that link in google I get this. The post has disappeared. Shame really I was in one of my fiery moods. But do tell if you know where it could have gone

Friday, May 06, 2011

Masters students - how to get that job

ex-Student site click here
It's one of the most frequent questions, of course, because whatever it is we're learning, the conclusion to that is finding a nicely paid, decent job, and yes YOU can influence the process.

So it's that part of the year again. Exams coming to a head and thoughts of what comes next looming large.

If you found this blog last September and have dropped by on occasion, then one of the posts looked at gearing up for the job. By that I meant the time to look for a job is, or should I say WAS in August last year for the next May, June, July.. which is about now.

If you had it would all make sense now, but understandably you've just joined a Masters programme, with a year to go and the last thing on your mind is the anxiety finding a job. It should, but it doesn't, and each year I talk to cohorts about this plan of action.

I have seen some students put it into practice and it's paying off. They spent the first few weeks engaging with potential employers in a long-tail process of conversations, which put pressure on neither party. Come June they've now developed a solid relationship over a couple of months. It worked for me as well.

Remember no hirer, editor has a job in their desk waiting for you, when you send in that spec email. The best you can hope for is serendipity - right place, right time, but even then, the game of chance comes in.

Otherwise if you're applying for a job now, then you and 20,000 other media students are part of the mass migration and less we've forgotten it's a rotten time to be job hunting. For any manager to make a judgement from an intake of 100 down to one, is almost a lottery.

Getting that job
This year one of the world's top broadcasters and hirers, knowing the work load that goes into prepping applications, interviews and selections, asked us to do main selecting for them. It's a difficult task, because we're not in the business of discriminating, so we widen our criteria to show the broadcaster where their work!

Can I say that again.. we lead them to their work ONLINE.

How to get that job? What I'm about to say is not the definitive. There are no grand theories, but this is one narrative that works, and if any of my students doing docs have done this then they have increased their chances ten fold.

Firstly having an online presence is not worth debating the whys and wherefores. If you haven't then its the next thing you want to do.

Secondly, having a professionally laid out online presence is crucial. Your reputation online is how you are judged in the flesh. Shouldn't be, but the same way you see those shoes, suit, art piece in a shop window and walk in to enquire and buy, is how YOU online works.

The question then becomes: blog, facebook, website or whatever. While all of these work, the website is your manageable, bespoke stylised YOU to a potential employer.

Blogs are great, but there is a reason blogs never usurped the website. The website is both the intro page and direction-giver to any thing else worth knowing about you, including your blog.

If you're intending to be a daily journo then a blog as a front-of-window will suffice. If you're intending to be a polymath, given your many skills, a website.... A WEBSITE.

In some cases blogs mimic websites, that's fine so long as you can control the assets you want everyone to see. In other words if you've written a great post three weeks ago and its fallen below the page fold,  you'll want to find a way to keep it in full view

The other reason why YOU so need a website is this. As a lecturer and on my travels I love bigging up student work, particularly those who have put in the hard grind and are perceived as deserving of that transactional break.

Last month I was with some execs at the world service, the week after that in Cairo and soon I'll be at Sheffield doc. Also like other professionals I tend to to have the odd unplanned conversation with editors who say.. David do you know anyone who does this?  And I instinctively go.... oh yeah here's this person's work.

Being online also means you've a a chance to attract attention once you've sorted your SEO out. My areas of interest include "multimedia journalism" and "videojournalism" and I have a number of conversations with people who want to share an idea or job.

If it's travel writing you're into, Podcasting, or Documentary, make the area your own by engaging with that ecosystem. Makeit your own and then conduct the 5 percent strategy.

[ 5 percent of speculative letters tend to work. It's a numbers game]

There are a number of talented souls, who have also consolidated their space by being online and I bet if you asked anyone of them, firstly there was no golden job, waiting for them; they made their own.

Secondly, it was hard work, but good work,  as they, slowly built up portfolios.

I can't think of a single person, perhaps apart from Nick Clegg, and yes a few more, who made it because the had a shoe-in.

If you want that job, engineer the process. What I talk about to students is geared to that process. Start now, and if you don't, you've only yourself to blame.

People that should inspire you, because as brilliant as they are, they've used the online space to carve out their careers.

  • Denisa Morariu  A former westmin Masters grad. Speaks five languages and has an insatiable appetite to learn. Small wonder that when one of Romania's top journalists saw her work, she was immediately invited for an interview and then given a job. If you look at her site, she's presenting from outside downing street. Great Product placement, or as I've told students get the action shot. If you want to look like a journalist, show us a shot of you at work. This is what she wrote about her time going through the mill at the University of Westminster Under 30.
  • Adam Westbrook - still under 30, blimey sounds like he's been around for ages, but you could spot the genius in him from his blog ( the only one during his time at City University) four years ago.
  • David Lee - In the first few months of his Masters programme, (2006)  his blogs started getting into the Press Gazette. Also under 30.
  • Alex Wood. Like the aforementioned another genius, who knows how to work the online space and has designed his own career path. He came to speak to students and the feedback from those that were there was.. "I can see now why you talk about him" Also under 30.
  • Murielle Gonzalez  And finally Murielle, one of our Master students. So long as she continues o get this work under the noses of professionals she'll continue to create good work. She made this as part of her final project and has made such projects for others. Also under 30.

There's no reason why you can't be like anyone of the aforementioned.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

The art of saying something with nothing - Videojournalism's cinema

Picture it if you will. I'm in my study, at least 30 books are strewn across the floor opened on their reference pages. Perceptual sensory !  PS is a £@^!!&.

Then I reference one of a kerzillion videos. This one is a favorite. The opening sequence to True Blood - Vampirish going ons in a fictional Louisiana town.

If you've played it. Chances are you're play it back again. It's a kalediscope of images unrelated, yet their sequencing creates a series of impressions. discursively unkempt, even er yurk!

Even with the track down that adds that southern comfort, there's a deep allure, for in many ways it reinforces what you might have thought, and if not creates a set of impressions that are bewitching; a fox decomposing in time lapse, a series of flutter-cuts, twitch cuts, non sequential, deeply saturated colours unnatural in real life.

The taboo (sex) diametric to the religion, purity and debauchery. it's a classic fable trick, but its composition barely need not shout it.

Deleuze, a geezer of a philosopher intercalated images like these worked on the subconscious. When you're paying no technical attention watching them ( only media petrol heads like me might) , they're triggering thoughts, emotions, reinforcing stereotypes, and the rest.

They're non-linear and rely on affecting you. You could have assembled it any myriad ways but done really well, it erodes time film time. You know that feeling you've had when you watch a good film and someone tells you it was 3 hours and your go.. "really, it was like 5 mins". "Er really!"

That's why you might play it again. But the truth if you tried to explain it to someone. It's just a bunch of images; it's kind of nothing, but its saying something.

Learning the semiotics of video, not in an academic way as there are millions of film makers who are naturals, gives you a window in creating artifacts.  Speaking to BBC TV and World Service execs I shared some of those ideas.

Now these books on the floor....

The Wire - same thing. The images are not as abstract except in their individual composition.