Sunday, October 21, 2012

Prometheus of videojournalism and social

By David Dunkley Gyimah. Connect with him on Google 

"Focusing attention only after people start relying on a medium misses the critical era in its development. By the time an audience has gathered around a source, many of the negotiations over purpose and mission are complete. 

Routines have already been developed. Limits have already been set. A “hard pattern” of processes and purposes might already be guiding the product. 

These negotiations not only provide an important view into how and why a medium developed in a certain direction, they can also give us a glimpse of the roads taken".

The above passage comes from Mike Conway's The Origins of Television News in America. It is an incisive text, described as the lost chapter in the development of television news in America by CBS.

Put another way it is the Prometheus of US TV News. In Greek mythology Prometheus is credited with creating man from clay. In Ridley Scott's Sci fi it begs the related question "where did we come from?" the missing link in the Alien's franchise.

Delivering a Keynote in Norway
A fortnight from today I'm in Denmark presenting at a conference of journalists interested in videojournalism and Prometheus is an important subtext for my 2 hour session.

Let's recap: "Focusing attention only after people start relying on a medium misses the critical era in its development".

I have long held that Videojournalism UK misses a critical era in its development and I hope in an 80,000 word thesis via a rhetorical argument to prove this.

The difference stems from the development of videojournalism from a period in the mid 90s in which videojournalism was built from the ground upwards to furnish the ambitions of a newspaper company with $82 million dollars, about £50 million pounds to spend.

There was no existing process and videojournalism was the panacea.

The converse which the BBC came to develop was, having observed videojournalism from a distance to cherry pick what it needed incorporated that into existing structures so there are degrees of compromise people had to negotiate.

The result is a different manifestation of videojournalism from one group that I have researched and for which I was fortunate to be a part of in the mid 1990. I do not say that one form of videojournalism is better than the other in structure or organisation, but that it was different and delimiting.

Broadly too what it thus presents is a videojournalism that mimics the duopoly that existed in the 1950s between a filmic form called Cinema Verite, Free Cinema  and Direct Cinema.

It's been fascinating to see this played out and I have verified some outstanding questions by speaking to the founder of Direct Cinema Robert Drew.

None of this somehow should come as a surprise. We've seen time and time again how institutions assimilate and codify technologies and processes to become their norm which become the normalcy for various constituents.

We can't know it all, but it's a shame if we can't have the desire to want to know proclaimed Socrates.

Here for ff up piece on presentation to Danish Journos.

Click here for insight into major new findings on

What is videojournalism on the web, in multimedia and offline - a major study and film - and why it matters