Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Al Jazeera - best fun with your clothes on

So I met up with a mate at Al Jazeera. Frankly I could meet up with a fair few mates at Al Jazeera as the whole of the news broadcast industry is there: former BBC, ITN, CNN producers and correspondents, so I'm bound to know someone.

Morgan, is the creative director of AJ. We've done a fair bit of curries et al with Riz Khan, another friend.

I passed around their knightsbridge office, joined by Patrick - a veteran BBC/ Adland producer for a whizz round the park. You know chew the fat, no particular agenda.

Morgan's great. I remember when I showed him viewmagazine about two years ago and he in turn passed it onto a designer who would use it to mould AJs web site, so he tipped his hat.

What followed was grown men talking passionately about the changing face of the media, and how viewmagazine.tv was functioning, or could function as a news driven site.

The overiding question perhaps could have been, why is Viewmagazine.tv not making money? Or could it? I read about Rocketboom's producer lamenting the same thing, and mirror his comments that viewmag leverages my public standing, enabling me to talk etc at conferences and produce for others.

Question: If you're an independent site owner making a clear turnover please contact me to tell me how. Presumably yes advertising, but are you selling content from your site?

So we tood and froed on that. User generated content is a great vehicle for attracting eyeballs, that in turn become your content and bring in the geen backs.

But viewmagazine as Morgan pointed out doesn't do UGC. Why not? I guess it's because I'm not in possession of a behemoth server and more to the point, I think there are good UGC sites that I'd be ill to want to take on.

That's not to say I underestimate viewmagazine, it's just that I believe I know where my stengths are.

Now as we kicked around a few more themes, I admitted yes, Viewmagazine.tv can be at times "a bit out there", but in truth that's the left sidedness of viewmagazine.tv. For me it's the site for the schoolboy and girl to gaze out of the class room window and wonder why planes stay in the air. Or to be more precise why the media works in the way it does.

With 20 years behind me in the media across tv, radio, advertising, and digital media, you begin to get some idea and then you're left with a choice. Run with it or see if you can find new angles to explore and push the conversation either forwards or sideways.

Viewmagazine's principle areas are video journalism, video hyperlinking, the outernet and grey areas of new reportage and new forms of doc making.

And that means for some people the conversation stops now. What the **** is the Outernet? For others it's a chance to engage and share their thoughts.

TV by its very convention is fixed in a paradigm that entertains very little 'extremes'. It's bound by a fixed narrative.

Video journalism purports to offer something new. And it does. Showing Morgan some of the work made by newspaper journalists may not impress TV bods, but the leap is that these are newspaper journalists now shooting video.

In a break from TV, they may have upped the game in picture composition, but yes to make some sense on their sites they will follow, but not exclusively, the model template of TV.

Now here's where the fun begins. Video journalism end game is a divorce from the construct. At its best, anything goes. It is auterism. It is mini film making, dogme , bauhaus, disruption...

And those are some of the areas I find exciting that I write about. The disruption but comprehension of the narrative, that has bound us for the best part of a century with reference to film etc.

At a point in time, which Patrick ( yep I'm still in the board room at Al Jazeera) and I waxed on, might we approach a new year zero? User generated content is as raw as you get news footage, but can we effectively learn coherent randomness, no randomness period; Charlie Parker, Miles Davis in news. Mmmmm.

It seems absurbed, but in the new language of digital media, hurtling light years away from news corp, will we emerge with what is in essence "back to basics"? Strip all the promos, Gustav Holst's intros, garish graphics, to simply tell a story with mood and tempo

I remember seeing Homicide for the first time in the 90s and being in awe. It was rough, ready, torn, a departure from the norm. And it was designed to look like something shot by your nextdoor neighbours toddler, but it worked. Lowbrow, high art.

The question is will news go that way? Could a youtube for news produced in a dscordant, "Homicide - the US series" fashion become a new movement?

In the next couple of weeks, I'll be producing pieces that further open up this debate. In-your-face news productions, with the warts n' all. Basically unsanitised, the remnants of zoo-radio, fades and dissolves replicating the human eye...

And so 5.30 dawns and it's time to leave, but the interaction has become a slow burning beacon, not to reign back on some of the esoteric aspects of viewmagazine, but to explore further those things that allow us ask the question, for which so far we have very little answers answers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I see you write about video journalism where newspaper journalists are VJs.

What about writing journalists for internet publications, or former tv journalists?

There are a lot of VJs with background from broadcasting..

We've worked in team with a photographer before, and now work alone.

Do you mean that videojournalism is primary for former newspaper journalists?