Thursday, February 20, 2014

British TV journalism Industry at its cutting edge - revelations from inside

... And news is the most dramatic drama, because it's real.

It doesn't quite resonate on the page,  but in a venue filled with the cream of British television journalism,  400 of them there's a a certain bite. 

A statement of intent about why TV's heroine keeps its practitioners going like Duracell batteries, and its audiences, the firm wish is, wanting more.

They applauded. Then again, preaching to the converted hardly shakes the china. But the speaker might be onto something. Fade to black and pull out Dziga Vertov, Russia's uber bad boy circa 1930 and yes journalism was drama par excellence.

In fact, journalism was the height of Cinema.

Somehow we've lost that search for drama on the way. Today things need shaking up -- a bit.  

I made this some years ago, which kind of works towards creating new ideas within news

Tales from the Awards

But shaking up things a bit on a grander scale is something the US stalwart network, NBC, dared to do, yet was so damn refreshing.

Months back now, it hired a British female dynamo in the shape of Deborah Turness. Turness, the architect of the news is drama speech, IS cutting edge.

Yesterday, she was given The Judges' Award,  by her peers for outstanding achievement in journalism.

Not bad at all she could say for the once 21 year old, rejected by the BBC, who then wrangled herself into ITN via its Paris Bureau many years ago.

If you haven't heard it said yet, but oh yes the Brits have come.

There in America, Turness is making her mark. Among her evaluations about news, Turness let on what pressure meant, that is to be hit by a hose - supposedly from managing the US network.

She said she  presses, among other things for the correspondents to find the "Queen on the loo" stories. *^%?? ... the unreachable.

Awards, and it is the season for them, have a habit of being like Christmas staff parties; everyone who is there is in the know; they're aware of each other, and nothing really emerges that might be a tad controversial.

Michael Crick, a reporter whom it's said strikes fear into politicians when the secretary announces: "Michael Crick is in reception", defied the general patter that award ceremonies were for glad handing each other, or increasing a reporter's brand worth.

"Thank you Channel 4" he said, for hiring me from the BBC and proving "there is life after death", Ouch! Crick 1, the BBC 0.

And there's more, but way informative. So imagine for the minute you were an outsider and  had the opportunity to attend the BAFTAs, OSCARS or in this case the RTS. The Royal Television Society Awards whose patrons is HRH the Prince of Wales.

Imagine that! The dusted black tie, the rethinking how do I get this infernal thing into a knot?  And then the journey, where the night could go either way. Particularly, if the smattering of people you think you might know are't there.

I did, you see, I used to work in television, but I have been out of front line reporting on television, though still doing net stuff. So I'm an outsider of sorts looking in. And the distance gives me a different perspective.

Firstly, a bit of mischief, so as you see I took the time to create a compendium of selfies.

Selfy 1. Jon Snow.  Getting down with the programme. Is he being ironic? I used to produce him.

Sian Williams was my cheekiest catch, but I'd bumped into her convening an event at the BBC five months ago, so I sort of mouthed "Westminster". Oh go on then! Selfy 2.

Selfie 3. I caught the BBC's wunder man Ian Pannel whose reports from Syria are seat-of-the-pants stuff.

Pannel and I share a sliding door moment. We both started our careers at Leicester twenty five years ago. I went though the door too early. He stayed. A different future unfolded.

We spoke about Syria and how the presence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria militia is preventing foreign reporters from going into Syria to report.

Marwan, I thought would have something to say on this.

The event was   a chance to to find out who had won the category that I chaired, Innovation in Journalism. Followers of this blog and my work might know I am bit bonkers about tech and news.

The three course meal
p.s taking photos of meals is now an infringement of a chef's IP in some restaurants in the UK. 

Wild Mushroom and Leek Tart

Main course: Square Cut Seabass with Parsley and Lemon. Baby New Potatoes and Baby Leeks

Cherry and Almond Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream

After Dinner thoughts

So, I have found out if I look closely enough at the winners in this category over the years, it's possible to read trends. After all, it's the best of the best who gather and then get judged, so it's more thank likely, the popular choice might have some bearing on the sociology of journalism.

One of the notable winners some years back was Al Jazeera's The Stream. A show made by young people with all the tools that put mainstream media to shame, but are now are commonplace. The year after, with more money, they changed the programme beyond recognition.

This year's finalists were Channel 4's data baby. The Channel invented a fictional character, gave her a phone and then let her mine data to show how easy it was to gain access to your phone.

YouTube's Truth Loader is a way for the video engine to offer validation for its stories.

And then the third nominee. Well, look at this below 

 Hans Rosling, a charismatic statistician, seems to have raised the bar with his interactive graphics presentations. Watch out for a presentation by your beloved broadcaster near you soon.

But something else also struck me. When Bowen was giving his acceptance speech for Specialist Journalist of the Year, for a piece of reportage in particular.

Bowen had been injured by gun pellets, but kept on reporting. That was professional enough. But Bowen did some thing that only Bowen knows.

That in the heat of the story unfolding, Bowen could offer first hand eye witness reportage, with contextual assessment and an analysis.

Think about it!

According to Bowen, when he first landed this gig some twenty years ago he says he had to plead with his bosses to allow him to do this.

Why this is significant is the feature of my PhD thesis, which questions how we can change roles in journalism and be discursive, but still operate in the parameters of news.

And I seem to have hit journalism gold. Deborah Turness, who I interviewed for an hour before she left for NBC hints at many innovative ideas worth sharing soon.

David Dunkley Gyimah was a chair of  the jury panel for the RTS Awards for Innovative News. He is a senior lecturer and videojournalist/ filmmaker. He is completing his PhD which examines a future of news. It involved speaking to more than a hundred pros from around the world, including Deborah Turness. David will be speaking at the IJF in Perugia