Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The irrational media makers
I'd like to be involved in building a school for media makers; irrational ones who insanely believe they can make a difference.
To some extent they would be journalists, but I feel it's a redundant albeit necessary legacy term that we might be stuck with for a while. Journalists ~ writing for a journal.. seems rather dated!
Media makers are platform agnostic, they deliver to the journal, the TV, online, and all manner of sub constituents.
The advert would read: Only those with an irrational passion to make a change need apply. What is our function? Journalists write stories, you write the new rules. In the course of their growth, we would foolishly make them privy (electronically or otherwise) to that we feel uncomfortable, even shy away from; poverty, abuse in families, racism, death, murder - all the while pushing them, testing to see where there is a higher sense of ethics that we could develop.
If you've never seen death, strife, injustice at play, does that make you a lesser journalist? Do you need to experience pain to understand pain. "Act my dear boy, act" the late lawrence Olivier told his co-actor Dustin Hoffman in the Running Man.
But there's no doubt, Walter Cronkite and many other journalists before and since have had their senses smacked when in Cronkite's case he returned from Vietnam.
We would also want to re-evaluate our relationship with the story. As a journalists we tell hundreds of stories. Some stick, some don't some indeed are mediocre. It happens, in a narrow corridor, there's so much news about, or is there? I'll come back.
I asked Scott Rensberger - a 32 awards winning journalist, photographer, and possibly the first contemporary video journalist with a 20 year track record, what his favourite stories were. Not supprisingly, he had many, and they were strewn across a wide geographical plate. There's something in that.
Bono and Geldoff ludicriously believed they could make a difference with music being a vehicle for change and change agents. Financiers deluded themeselves many years back with The Marshall Plan and how we might rebuild a crippled dejected democracy and Europe. Al Gore, we thought must have been barking mad when earlier in his environmental career he preached the mantra of global doom.
Of course I'm not any of the above, just someone who believes a re keeling of the way irrational media making might work. It's unfathomable but every story they publish will have a banking purpose. The net does that now with linking. So if I said this in 1994 I'd be even more deluded.
But our feat is to redefine the database for news and its agenda of hit and misses. I onced asked a delegate at one of my talks how many times she checked her stocks and shares. At least once a day, she replied. It meant something to her, I concluded. It had value. But I added, today's news: Hurricane Katrina, The Tsunami, the Virginia shootings will soon fall of the agenda of our present custodians of news. It may be inportant but something of more significance has come along to shift its from its temporal location. Never mind that. Someone's now saying, there's no possible way you can keep showing the same news every day.
No I didn't say that, but how do we pick and choose our news is something to look at and should we be blaming the news hosts for their lack of our choice?
The news would not be a showcase of us; perhaps there's no helping that, but the purpose would be seek a new discourse in how we tell it.
Here videojournalism has been rather better placed, but it's not the panacea. Except the nature and characteristics of video journalists - at least those I have met - tend to mirror the attributes of photojournalists. Lensmen and women who tread that place angels would hesitate to go, and yes there are a kerzillion other journalists of indistinguishable merit who have enriched is before, But.. But on the bell curve of behaviours they're at the top end.
Video journalism I told a BBC reporter in Berlin, much to his delight - he told me later - is about getting down and dirty: Gonzoims updated. Finding a story that often makes little sense on paper. I'll be posting an interview with Rensberger and some of his films to illustrate, but Kevin Site's solo missions also make me wonder.
At the dawn of TV and radio, I'm returning to my narrow corridor theme; the world, as complex as it was then as a microcosm of now, must have been simpler to peer at and wonder. For one thing nations and issues were more more definned, less blurring around the edges. The world we live in today is complexity sans border.
So the issues to report were perhaps more obvious. The uniqueness of air travel also meant, any story back from the "Far East" or Africa resonated in its novelty.
The world shrouded by a chaos theory, which cycles through good and bad times makes it impossible to report on single issues, even to sustain such reports e.g. Darfur and the Genocide.
So what are we to do? Irrational media makers report and with their multimedia skills let you thread, thus soon every niche of a debated issue becomes a top page rank. Last time I checked on google as an experiment - a story I posted with 90,000,000 returns placed me at number 3. Intelligent software and human eyes, intelligence gathering gives the stories new impetus.
I asked my Mac, so how have things shaped up in New Orleans? It returned a slew of links, but in our new frontiere, our stories featured prominently. There's still more than enough anxiety to topple the cadres who stood by for the worse to happen. On another morning I asked for the top health stories around the world, then my favourite reporters. Each time the data base returned with annotations from us irrational media makers. "Huh" we said, now everyone's deep linking video to get more currency.
One of our features will be to move as "swarms" - think of it as special units. In London alone after one month, what you'll know about the city will be far and above what the daily diet of a thirty minute news programme tries to show. And whilst we won't neccessarily seek out "good stories",our aim would be examine those that ripple with their effect.
We'll need to deconstruct story telling. Pre 20th century cinema , the narrative for film wasn't fully conceived. I've no idea what it is, but where we are now, cannot be the be all and end all.
As irrational media makers, we work across news, video, photos, pods, design, promos and articles. To us they are all ones and zero, with however deeper instrinsic social purpose.
The new paradigm will ease us away from the nomenclature which defines us at the moment.
Yes, Cyber MI6 ( integrated multimedia Video journalists working the Outernet ) repurposing old ways. No.. shifting things altogether, yes, yes, yes.
.....then I woke up. 6.30 the alarm went off to the BBC's Today Programme.
Wow some *****ing dream that was.
But I managed to jot something down. It said little drops of water make the mighty ocean - an irrational thought if there ever was one.