Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A New Present of Video Storytelling & Videojournalism

David Dunkley Gyimah with CNN Anchor Becky Anderson at CNN party in Barcelona 

We're 12 individuals - academics and professionals - like CNN's Becky Anderson who annually sift through the most innovative UK broadcast news programmes to crown the  RTS (Royal Television Society) winner.

This unique behind-the-scenes insight has also proven to be useful in other ways. It's one of several features I have used to build up a theory of video storytelling and videojournalism.

PhD Thesis first draft examines the future of the storytelling 
The practice-based theory being completed at  University College Dublin runs to 85,000 words.

It has taken five and a half years to complete, but really covers 25 years of my career and goes back much further still.

And, it has driven me mad more times than I care to remember. It's my new present, which I'm hoping to share with anyone interested - soon.

Along the way some 200 people (experts and clever people who understand media) have helped shape its outcomes from their contributions.

It is a story about storytelling: video storytelling and videojournalism.

The story about the story
This relentless research covers processes before they take shape and the "inbetween". The space between what defines something and the next form, which is often disregarded.

In his book Mike Conway, through exhaustive research, showed how America's broadcast industry came by its present form. A passage of the book read as follows:

"Well before a technology is accepted or medium becomes mass, the key players, the people and industries that could win or lose depending on the direction and purpose, negotiate a specific role for the new invention. 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".

We tend to care less about the inbetweens because the present forms provide us with what we want.

It complies with narrative conventions we are familiar with and above all trust. But the inbetweens do something else, they move us away from stagnation and formulate fresh conceptual ideas.

And these actions are not achieved by whims or banal strategies. Sometimes, the audience exhibits traits that suggest they are ready for innovation.

Dimitri Doganis, arguably one of the most innovative storytellers in the UK, knows this all too well. You will know him by such productions as: Banged up Abroad, National Geo's Jungle Gold, and The Imposter.

The Imposter is one of those extraordinary stories, so tantalisling, that it borders on fiction. A teenager returns to his parents, having been abducted as a child, but all is not as it seems.

Like Doganis' production slates factual programmes take on a filmic schema creating hybrid forms. They look too good to be true.

 But how did Doganis come by this way of thinking? To the left is Doganis in 1994 as one of the youngest reporters working for a new venture in the UK, where I used to work and to the right my recent interview with Doganis.

I'll post a trailer of this investigation in due course.