Tuesday, January 14, 2014

News doesn't have to be told with a beginning, middle ad an end

How many times have you heard this advice? Make sure your story has a beginning, middle and end...But CNN’s Candy Crowley has a variation: “Every story needs a beginning, middle and end,” she says, “not necessarily in that order.” 
The above comes from a post called: Storytelling advice: Beginning, middle, end from the NewsLab site.  Newslab is one of the sites I pop by once in  while, and when I saw the post, I thought I had to respond, below.
As news makers, and I talk about myself here as well, we can often be guilty for recursive statements that appear innovatory, but have deep histories.
I know that much from starting my PhD, when I walked into giving a lecture to faculty and in two year time held my head in shame, at the 'original ideas' I was making.
One of the UK's leading documentary figures and world renowned documentary scholars, Brian Winston, goes so far to say anything original about films news form was made in the 1960s. However when he was helping me with my thesis he urged me to dig deeper.
That digging is to track back into literature, art, journalism and understand what came before. Take my last post where some scholars said the BBC started videojournalism in the UK. If you googled that you would have found that not to be the case. 
Similarly that a story can have different acts not necessarily in chronological order has its roots far back, but more prevalently in French Cinema.
The key perhaps is we need to research more. Very little of storyform has not been discussed in either French, Russian or German film and that's a limited overview.
Here's my response to Newslab.
In the 1960s French new wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard set about breaking many of the so called narrative rules that framed Hollywood cinema e.g., continuity eye match cutting, blocking, and that a film could have beginning, a middle and an end, but not in that order.
New wave would influence generations; in the 90s, noticeably, Tarantino and Pulp Fiction. Tarantino even named his production company after Godard’s film A Bande à part. CNN’s Candy Crowley re-iterates an important point which envelopes cinema and art, which itself is influenced by literature.
One of the earliest profound books was Finnegans Wake, by Joyce, which played with the linearity of a story.
Here’s the rub though, news making generally eschews cinema and the novel’s literary discursive properties. News is a genre of a media form that says this is reality as it happened, rather than a version of it rearranged.
Though it’s not news remember the fuss around Michael Moore’s docs about the sequence of events and editing. Thus news films playing with structure and ‘in media res’ have to be aware of when time and events are critical to the story.
That there is room to think this way in the noughties, albeit in a strict fashion in news, suggests how producers seek to play with the form’s structure at a time when news’ main narrative form is showing its age.
I talk more about the interstices of narrative within news, art. literature and journalism on my siteviewmagazine.tv
David DG
London, Uni of Westminster