Friday, October 12, 2007

Creative Journalism & the confessions ( David's) of a would-be creative journalist

NB Otherwise for a 600X300 viewing experience: file size 17mb go to here.

After speaking to Paul Egglesone and Andy Dickinson behind MELD, David reflects on his own background in this hitherto undefined space of journalism creativity.

I confess I didn't comprehensibly realise what Meld was from the press release, until their launch and later interviewing the architects Paul and Andy the morning after; Mike Ward on the day itself.

It wasn't the press release. It's my head that needs sorting.

I need a clear out; one of those Johnny Mnemonic downloads.

The evening, from looking at the attendants and how upbeat Team Meld were, came of very well.

With the exception of me running through a makeshift keynote (Apple) trying to marry too many themes in a 20 minute window, but I have a new plan for their next outing.

Creative Ditherer - The 90s
Back in the days, I recall the many meetings I had job and project hunting.

One minute I was at Newsnight or Channel 4 News, the next I was out of work with no prospect in sight for finding work.

A meeting with a senior BBC Journalism executive Vin Ray in the late 90s will always live with me.

"Mmm good CV, seems like you've done a lot, but what do you do? What would you want to do?"

And then followed my explanation, stretched, bended delicately propositioned, as not to seem a ditherer.

I filmed, reported, wrote for magazines, was freelancing for radio.

To many, and I am not attributing this to Vin, I was either a media whore, confused, befuddled at my calling, or I was this bit- too-clever who still didn't know what he was about.

I never did get a follow up from Vin working the reporting boards in the BBC.

I can imagine the oh so many reasons for that.

All journalists are ambitious and you could argue there are just so many spots going available, however. . .

At BBC Breakfast where I was freelancing as a producer I bumped into an old mate from journalism school, the indefatigable and steady hands Daniel Boecher.

A new crop of journalists were coming through the ranks and I knew quite a few of them: Daniel, Iain Pannel, now Egypt Correspondent - whom I recall seeing shift at BBC Leicester, where I started my career. Paul Kenyon at BBC Panorama, we worked together at BBC GLR and Rageh Omar from my days at the BBC African Service.

I wanted to be a reporter, yes, but a weeny bit more please. Can I make a film?

There appeared no place in the industry to do that.

Journalism is creative with a "c" that varies in size depending who you talk to.

The morning meetings elevate telephone discussion and diffused idea to what you see on screen. And some of the aforementioned journalists are among the most creative in words, pictures and delivery.

But the medium of TV and journalism has parameters that you can not stray far from.

Beyond the VJ days
Videojournalism circa 1994 showed you can expand, but by 1997 I was having doubts.

The industry wasn't interested and I was stuck with a skill set going no where.

And in between that hiatus rather than concentrate on a singular path; how not to run an economy on an economc downturn, I invested more time in other aspects of visual story telling, meeting the likes if Jon Staton - an Ex Saatchi head.

And along that road came Flash with Hillman Curtis; graphic design, I have the first issues of Computer Arts, and then more DV stuff.

For me back then it was part about survival and part about enjoying a wider canvass to play on.

No one could have told me about this future convincingly, where being "confused" has a currency, though a number of magazines and experts flagged this up.

One of the most rewarding jobs to date in this new pot of the mash-up has been with Rob Chiu of the Ronin.

Rob's short film here looks at Global Refugees. It will likely do for its audience something news will not come close to. This is hard bitten story telling meets.

He rang me up asking if I could be in the animation, reporting sim world sound like real world. Here's the article I produced for .

You can hear me in the first few seconds. . .

And it's that collaborative space of interdisciplines, which thinkers like Paul, Andy, Mike Ward etc are carving out. A playground where we've all had the same thoughts staring at a blank piece of paper imagining what could be.

So I tip my hat to the MELD team for making this happen, for giving form to these thoughts, guidance to a world which only looks to become more and more complex.

The Future?

Worry about now said McLuhan.

Last year I met Vin Ray again. A colleague and I had devised a game, News City, based around Simms to test journalists and their reporting skills.

The BBC's Journalism College paid us as consultants to show them the bonnet and have since built their own. Version 2, 3 and upwards is ripe to be made.

What both Any and Paul say on tape makes clear what MELD is about.

And so version 1+ at Leeds, I have a plan, to pull out a few collaborative pieces that add to the conversation in this space.

Rob Chiu, Nato, the brilliant mashup guru Rob Montgomerry, and the new telegraph multi media journalists will do.

Like they say If you want to know about water don't ask a fish or as Andy adds, it's not just about the end product, but the process.


Anonymous said...

very stylish interview David.

Dr David Dunkley Gyimah said...

Hi Peter, thanks

We were talking about you at this event; me and Andy.

Give Andy a shout.

Re: the interview, you know this all but if any one else is wondering.

I was trying to interview them in real time - which was really wierd. I had one set of questions which I knew I'd drop but helped me to capture real time c/aways or really contemporaneously.

And then I went behind Andy, I had to find a device to get back to Paul again, so I thought "great, his hands, Paul talks with his hands so captured some of that".

The other wierd thing was that I was guaging was the answers' length, so that visually every so often when I felt the visual was exhausting I'd change the shot.

I actually quite enjoyed it as I have a habit of running music sound under interviews and this allowed me to run neat