Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The video ( financial) Journalist VFJ

His kit will leave you envious; his specialist knowledge, beached.

Unless you're a trader or avid market watcher the bulk of what he's saying here on The London Stock Exchange may leave you flumoxed, but google him and you'll find out he knows his market and they know him; from city traders to the lay person wanting to invest.

Quietly away from the hulabaloo of zeitgeist talks of video journalism and ocassional dog fights between professionals, a new video practitioner is making their mark.

For a while they've operated from office with fixed ISDN and T1 lines, with studios in a basement which they'd hurried to when the broadcasters called.

That was the 90s.

Today, Sandy Jadeja exemplifies a new breed. Not so much as journalist, which he is, but pundit extraordinaire. The guy who comments why the markets are going bonkers, with an assortment of gear; green screen, panasonic VX, Seinheiser pro mikes.

And while the office with its array of squiggly lines, numbers fluctutating by the second, and squark talk is where a bulk of the the new Vj play takes plac ( more vlog at present), Sandy is on the road, constantly: Dubai, China, India, France.

If news telling is about access, which it is, then Sandy could be the Economics News Editor for any media conglomerate.

The concept of the VFJ isn't a pipe dream, but getting the news out to whosoever may want it, without say, being reliant on financial news broadcasters, is gearing up.

You can already catch Sandy twice every week on CNBC, a column in respected financial city paper, and endless spots elsewhere, but spending a couple of hours with him today shows he's writing a new dawn.

Chatham House rules apply so I can't tell you what we spoke about, other than being deeply impressed. And there are many beneficiaries in his vision, including the new crop of journalists entering institutions like the University of Westminster, whom are keen to become VFJs.

Watch out for the name: Sandy, that's all I can say.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Frenzied activity

The indefatigable Jeff Jarvis of and Prof at CUNY makes me want have regressive therapy and become a 19 year old again.

We've crossed paths a couple of times and I interviewed him a while back at the WeMedia conference in the UK. And I'm hoping we'll catch up [ we're throwing balls in the air] when I'm in Chicago and NY.

Here's Jeff

Meanwhile what is Current Affairs and documentary making? Continued musings at the BBC after Tim Samuels, mega RTS award-winning film maker behind The Zimmers..

If this debate breaks free of the TV Land, then it could have interesting bent for new dv/ video journalist film makers. Is it popualr journalism without teeth which brings in an audience or is it the paradigm in engaged journalism - a sort of gonzo that has the presenter and treatment become overwhelming stars?

Later today Adrian Monck, professor at City University lanuches his book, "Can you Trust the Media". Adrian's piece in the Guardian is a must read as he puts a couple of things, often taken for granted, into perspective.

Still working on the education- journalism set of articles with some interesting stuff coming up. Too little hours in a day

Blogging - writings of the neurotic

This came through today, which was nice. Why?

Well you know. Blogging. It's like the actions of a schizo, the writer in you trying to break out. And sometimes it drives you insane and other many times it's a joy. But you do it because like many writers, you're fulfiling your pleasure and if others find something a wee bit interesting, all the better. So this is a nice lift to say. Yeah go on.. keep writing, even if nobody reads, cuz you know what recently I have taken my foot of the blog pedal.

Just too much work going on. But today like a gazelle in a sea of new spring shoots grazing away, I'll add two more posts before I turn in. Thank you kind people.

Dear David Dunkley Gyimah,

Our editors recently reviewed your blog and have given it an 8.3 score
out of (10) in the Technology category of
This is quite an achievement!

We evaluated your blog based on the following criteria: Frequency of
Updates, Relevance of Content, Site Design, and Writing Style.
After carefully reviewing each of these criteria, your site was given
its 8.3 score.

We've also created score badges with your score prominently
displayed. Simply visit your website's summary page on

Click on the "Show this rating on your blog!" link underneath the score
and follow the instructions provided.

Please accept my congratulations on a blog well-done!!


Amy Liu

Wired Journalism - The Game Changers

The Daily Telegraph is in bouyant mood. Its website traffic is outstripping its UK competitors it says.

It's a far cry from the news item you can watch me presenting as a newsreader in 1994 in which the Telegraph attracted 30,000 readers.

A senior exec tells how they've become a leading multimedia provider.

And we bring you an exclusive short film about its new super journalists: 12 young men and women picked from arround 800 applicants, trained over a period of a year in the broad spectrum of traditional and new wired journalism.

It leads me to ask in our special journalism-academia section, what today is journalism?

Does this confluence of multi skills show us how broken traditional journalism is in coping with today's newsgathering and more pluralistic story telling demands? And how well is academia and training sectors doing in nurturing the new journalists?


Saturday, April 26, 2008

TV Camera - VJ shooters - Online (Newspapers) - which one?

David shooting with the Digibeta 700

I was at lunch and I was asked the question. So what d you think about TV and TV making versus the VJ thing?

Here we go, I thought, and by the time I'd finished my questioner looked a little surprised.

How did it go...

"I think the them and us is a non argument in my book. It's really horses for courses.. Truth this is really such a well worn point that.. phrew!

I started off as journalist before learning how to use a camera - the Hi8 - whilst at BBC Reportage and then the beta 400 and digi beta- as part of video journalism.

I have been into cameras since I was a teenager and still have my Super 8mm, not the exact one. That got busted.

I was at a second hand shop and bought a replacement. Great camera, Schneider lens; the works. There's nothing more liberating than creating a film, and I suppose journalism was that release.

I enjoyed the reportage, but was always fascinated by what happened the other side. Anytime I was out with a crew I always carried the tripod (camera operators would never ever give you their camera) and ask lots of questions.

I'd follow articles in American Cinematographer, intrigued by how light and tone could create a mood.

And when I turned to producing at ITN's Channel 4 News, I discovered I could talk to each side of the production process in a language we all understood.

Hey Tim you got a female - female for the XLR jack. Yep I'm running bars. View finder looks fuzzy, dunno whether it's that or the back focus.

The same with editing: Could we L cut here please? Yep the tape's blacked. These were the days of the transition from linear to non linear , which at the time was never going to work.

When we started out in the UK I can, now looking back, understand the resentment from some TV people. TV News had just made substantial changes to the work force.

The three/four person crew: Camera, sound, producer/fixer, journalist had turned into the Cameraman/woman and reporter. Camera operators discovered that their fees were being squeezed and that news desk preferred an all in one.

And you had to have your own camera and the better yours was the more you got called for gigs.

It's one reason why Camera men/women invest a lot in their gear, particularly lens, Matt boxes, filters and sound.

I don't think a proper debate ever happened about VJ and TV and there was unease and an amount of ridicule back then about the young upstarts.

When we started at Channel One, we were supposed to use hi-8s but the management got cold feet, thinking the industry would not take us seriously if we turned up with smallish cameras, and even after the betas, they went for the DSR200s.

I did have some choice moments interviewing MPs on a small Hi8 and found on a feature shoot on the Island of Falaraki in Greece, which was rampant with young Brits and publicity shy Greeks, the Hi 8 came in handy. Remember this is 1995.

But I have an important mantra, let the pros do what they do best. I might VJ, but if there's a camera person on the shoot, a friend etc, whom I could work with I'd beg to have them on board.

No secret also, kerzillions of camera operators may work the news route by day, but away from the office are busy doing their own shoots, directing, producing short and dockies.

So in effect as someone like Scott Rensberger will tell you, and we had a good chat about this in Bilbao last year, ain't much difference between the camera - Director - producer and the VJ.

Aha, wait..! Claudio Von Planta, one of the most experienced camera operators in the UK sums it up.

In 2000 he had the whole works, several cameras in which the lens alone could buy a house, then he changed over to smaller lighter the A1, which he uses to shoot for CNN international and the rest.

He's a canny lighting camera so knows how to use light. By the way, he doesn't call himself a Video journalist, and more often than not working in TV I didn't either.

He's fast on the draw, inconspicuous with his camera, likes to go get in tight,and catch his subject when they've figured the cameras stopped rolling.

A set shot in Congo with a former militia had the subject talking in the third person about atrocities that had been committed.

But on the journey back to town in car, the subject started to confess his involvement. Claudio says he whipped out his camera very swiftly and in cramped conditions resumed filming, which they used in the final cut. Very Compelling stuff!

If you google Claudio you'll find out about his pedigree - from shooting in Borneo with special forces to climbing the Himalayas etc.

The more common argument with Vjism is how it can be used to mimic the newspaper beat. In other words VJs see themselves as scooping up news items before TV gets onto it.


That in effect has nothing to do with camera work and individual production techniques, but the paradigm of how newspapers and TV News works.

The call from the BBC yesterday to ask whether I was interested in an international shoot is indicative of the PD understanding - Producer/Director shooter.

Video journalism has connotations that, yes have changed over the years, but still often attract the wrong sort of publicity.

TV news has rules for reasons that Hollywood Cinema has, unless that is you're making an art movie or are an independent. We're going into auteur here. Actually far less basic.

From the Evil Deads to Once, low budget and DV film makers have often experimented with form, and then Hollywood has caught wind and reigned the directors in to become part of the fold. There's a great read about Mirimax's history.

On some shoots, I've occasionally attracted comments that "hey that looks like TV", and I say yes, because I don't believe in throwing away the baby and the bath water (I have always thought what a crude analogy that is.. who dreams up this things.) And TV's bags of tricks do offer get out clauses.

Whatever we might say about VJ its a derivative of TV. It was born from TV, but then aping what's good about newish media, has broken away to invent its own rules.

Understanding first shift and second shift aesthetics in TV - New Media lets me appreciate both. One we know about all too well, the other is experiential.

One has a cost element and emphasis on lens clarity that it's appreciation would be lost on everyday turnaround newspapers online, who've now come to inherit Video journalism.

One allows me to be more discreet, the other tells you I'm a cameraman/director. I often tell them I'm also the reporter, but when I am using a digi or beta, rarely do stand ups.

The them and us is merely in my mind the old fight of a division of labour: history is littered with them. One of the best, newspapers saying TV wouldn't last and then having to change their game to include more analysis news and commentary.

I imagine a few old editors having a chuckle now at the direction their papers are taking, but somewhere there's a middle ground (huge) where we'll all meet, and then of course some will always be on he fringes: it's the "bell curve" of life.

The VJ - small size jack of all - works mainly because of cost and the medium, online. Truth, that's been the life line of Vjism, broadband!

Like I said Vj lets us know what TV would have liked to continue doing which is to innovate in visual terms, in the same way independent cinema has done.

And whether it's the term we feel queezy by, it's really about creating films, not as a maniacal practitioner, but as someone who's passionate about storytelling and would like to have more input into realising their ideas. There!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Game Changers

I liked the phrase "game changer", used by a senior Yahoo exec when I interviewed him.

I have wanted to also write about some of the things that get me worked up in Education and the Media so I have combined the good, bad and well help from friends to russle up something in an area that we all have something to say.

That's next week. but you can glimpse the front page at

Image shows former International Masters Journalism Students from 2006 - doing amazingly good things at present. Couple of videos in the pipeline e.g Rania in Egypt - one of the few women editors to edit a national newspaper.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Videojournalism wanted

Just got a message on my phone from a national broadcaster with a project for a VJ that involves three continents.

Sadly, I can't do it - other commitments so if you're a VJ based in the UK and up for it, drop a comment with a link back to your work and I'll have the producer look it over or if you want privacy email david(at)

My guess cuz of the travel etc, you're going to have to be experienced. One of the locations is in an African state where filming on the street attracts the wrong sort of attention and could get you easily arrested.

Also you're most likely be working with a producer, and ex producer back in London, so you'll have tobe good at taking and executing briefs.

It'll probably be exciting and hair raising and pay decently - though I don't have any figures.

Go on. You'll dine out on this for years

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Video Journalism and Camp Video Journalism - Chicago

Front page of Videojournalism site for the UK's first regional newspaper videojournalists. The combination of VJ, site building and multimedia is what David refers to as Integrated Multimedia Video Journalism IMVJ.

More here

I'm in Chicago soon to meet friends, talk and mix it up with practical and theoretical ideas 'bout Video journalism, and exchange views into the small of the night.

I'll be joining Angela Grant whom I've not met but know her work - great stuff - from News and Robb Montgomery from in what's been penned as CAMP VIDEOJOURNALISM.

It's something we dreamt up while in Cairo together

I'm hoping to see some of the different styles emerging and see if I can spot some Video journalism trends and trajectories.

There are a range of international VJs/ solo news film makers whose work I so admire: Washington Post's Travis Fox whose film about a bereaved 911 father who helps rebuild the pentagon is a constant source for my students year on year.

Last year one of them rang him up. He missed the call and duly rang her back. Top Bloke!

Then there are the VJ/ solo film makers I've had the privilege of meeting: Naka Nathaniel - awesome a truly nice guy to boot; Scott Rensberger who should frankly stop winning awards; Dutch Ruud Elmendorp - an award winning VJ based in East Africa, and Stephan Bachenheimer whom made Guantanamo Unplugged. Watch it!

There are some things we share in common, some things we do differently but often arrive at the same goal, and some things that are poles apart.

You say Tomato and we say Tomato.

Just as television has its cultural nuances and flows ( see Raymond Williams, the same could be said of video journalism. Though good stuff invariably travels well irrespective.

But as film makers what we do is learn, borrow and God forbid steal visual ideas from each other.

In my career one of the most invaluable pieces of advice was: Listen and Learn. ABC News' style is different from the BBC, which was not the same as defunct agency WTN, which is another kettle of fish to Channel 4 News, which looks to have nothing in common with Channel One TV - a VJ station.

I worked at all of these at some point.

But all provide recombinant DNA for something else, which could either work or be bloody messy.

However there is no prescriptive route to creativity and its execution. We learn assimilate and then take the stabilisers off and find a setting that enables us to replicate, but also surpass those around us.

Tutors teach students whom will likely, very quickly, streak past their tutors own knowledge in this speedy media scape. Experience is crucial, but we also need an injection of the zeitgeist - what's happening now. It also keeps us sprightly.

Traditional film and TV making skills are still crucial - absolutely. TV lets us know what video journalism can do, and multimedia news making when that becomes the norm will thumb its nose at video journalism. Hah!

We have endless debates online about video, video journalism, which are absolutely necessary; the end goal is about a product, so a major solution is to go do.

We'll succeed and fail and do it again and then succeed some more and then find our voice - and when we do that voice will be unique to its author.

After all we are painters with video and you wouldn't expect craftsmen and women to all paint the same.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Promote yourself on the web young journalists

First impressions count and you've seconds to make your case to be considered for that job which hasn't yet made it onto the market.

Unfortunately it's one of the few things we rarely talk about as graduate journalists: promoting yourself.

In years gone by, you sent out a show reel on VHS and hoped for a miracle someone would actually watch it and call you - fat chance!

Now it's all about the web.

Two years ago, Anthony Moor, Associate Managing Editor/Online at the Orlando Sentinel, and editor of wrote this seminal piece for the OJR Go to the Web, young journalist!

If you've never read it please do. One of his points, the web is yours go own it.

In 1997 when I built my first site, I had terrible guilt pangs. A website showing my work, how terribly narcissistic. It took a colleague, a graphic designer to make the case why it had value as a record of work.

As a journalist I started buying Computer Arts International and DV World - The Creative Digital Video Magazine ( now defunct) from issue 1.

If you are a graphic designer, building up a portfolio for future jobs is almost a must.

If you're in the UK (I'm told you can only subscribe in the US) and are a regular reader of Computer Arts International, it won't have escaped you how rich in tips and advice the mag is for designers selling themselves.

Some of this is apt for young journalists.

From the above issue take the following do's and don'ts: Ten Tips for making your portfolio. These three below, which I have paraphrased, hit the mark.

  • Get on the web: make a site/blog and keep it updated regularly.
  • Be Creative: Stand out from the crowd by offering innovation and creativity in your work
  • Watch your attitude: Don't be arrogant, your personality should shine through on your work.

    In our Masters in Journalism lectures, I often refer to the sell as the elevator pitch or the "8 second sell".

    Within 8 seconds the visual feel of your site must woo the attention of its recipient.

    It's a subjective thing. You may be one of the finest writers/bloggers around, but you'll need your cash-rich, time-poor acquaintance to read it first.

    A common practice by many bloggers wanting to stand out is to include testimonial straps: "one of the finest emerging bloggers", says the head of global news international federation.

    The architecture must guide the reader so that within a minute they know enough about you to come to a decision as someone to watch or another one bites the dust.

    A minute thereabouts is as much as you can expect - this isn't absolute but an illustration of the cursory attention span you can expect first time around.

    If your work is a blinder, then you're in luck.

    In effect, your site is a visual CV and you can develop as many landing pages specific to the potential job in question.

    A wee bit of advice. Youtube videos look great on blogs; on personal sites you're better of with something more refined and aesthetic.

    Viewmagazine profiles Doug Hughes
    Doug Hughes featured in the imitation of Time Magazine; a cover which has had an indelible impression on me, was an International Journalism Masters student two years ago.

    It was patently clear in lectures, he clearly understood the potential of the web and now is successful and growing in stature. This is his site Doug Hughes Marketing and Design. If you're in the California region drop him a line.

    Further testimony of the viability and usefulness of the web as a journalists PR tool can be obtained from Ed, a student last year whom I bumped into at the Financial Times.

    Here's a short interview I conducted with him shot on my Canon Digital IXUS 70, a camera that fits into the palm of your hand.

  • Of course, you've got to have something to show first on your web site. Don't wait! Don't wait to be given that assignment before you feel able to pick up a camera and shoot.

    Be creative. The amazing Film/commercial maker Tarsem Singh used his first year at film school to build up a portfolio which would lead to the gig to direct REMs ground breaking Losing my Religion.


    On How to podcast

    Sunday, April 20, 2008

    Videojournalism, Interactivity and London Underground

    You've probably seen them going in and out of London's tube stations. Interactive advertisements - images revolving around on electronic screens.

    In the summer of 2001 we were approached by Viacom UK - The outdoor advertisers. They had seen our work, a combination of interactive play and video journalism whilst at re-active .

    So how did video journalism come to play a role in devising a campaign for Viacom? What was the five degrees of motion that Viacom- underground would have us develop, which would affect price modelling? And what could we learn from today in the burgeoning environment of IM6VJ and Interactivity.

    Also on Before and After. For the doc 8 days I shot just over an hour for what I perceived would be a 30 min doc. It would in fact be 15 mins.

    When I got back to base within an hour I had laid down the structure which changed very little in the final cut. Then and after is what I'll be revealing on Mrdot, and how the shoot-to-edit paradigm allowed for fast turnaround.

    And The Harvard Business Review has often been food for thought in Journalism etc. This month Stewart D Friedman writes about the dynamics of change, as founder director of Wharton's leadership program. In Total Leadership: be a better leader, have a richer life, Prof Friedman offers words which will comfort Journalism innovators.

    Experiment, and how do you know your experiment is working, he asks. His guide rather reminds me of some of the mantras I have become attached to such a "protect your golden hour" and "capitalising on your creative period", which I'll elaborate in future posts.

    Saturday, April 19, 2008

    Video journalism - what does it take to be one - before and after the web?

    South Africa circa 1994. The whole world holds its breath for THE elecction to consign apartheid to the history books.

    I'm in South Africa multiskilling, working with ABC News, independent production companies and filing radio reports to the BBC World Service.

    I have a hi8 camera and Sony recorder I'm using in the townships in areas like Katlehong described as the murder capital of the world.

    Nine months later, a total of 18 months in South Africa, I'll be in London going through the ropes on this new thing video journalism.

    We often talk about the tools to become a videojournalist, but what about the qualities?

    Back then:

  • Alpha male or female. You needed to be scrapping with national news for stories and the few crews who'd lob insults at you for debasing the craft of TV news making.
  • Passion and a self starter. You had to know how to solve problems, find a way to bring the story in.
  • Some appreciation of journalism - Generally broadcasters including the BBC took newspaper journalists and trained them to become visual. Most of the VJs were at the start of their careers and came from newspapers.
  • People's person. You had to like people and know how to banter to keep an interviewee occupied or open up an interviewer.
  • Tough skin. Had to know how to take (constructive) criticism.
  • Ambitious. It's no coincidence that Video journalists went on to work and are still at the likes of BBC Breakfast, News 24, Sky, BBC London, CNBC.
  • Relentless. We all had pagers and mobile phones and were in regular contact with the office, often filing two stories a day using track and rushes. In one year 500 stories was not uncommon.
  • Fearless, but not reckless. I did night duty for three months starting at 9 p.m. till 9 a.m. On one story in Brixton my car with tripod was broken into and a group of three were after my beta camera.
  • Creative. We did not have archive stock so had to be innovative on feature length stories.
  • Stiickler for facts. You owned your story and needed to be on top of ethics and the law. We were governed by the guidelines of the ITC now Ofcom, which overseas television.

    And what about the qualities today. Much the same I guess with noticeable exceptions.
  • Any respect for video journalism? - Shooting by Numbers

    Peter at Shootingbynmbers writes:

    "There is one significant difference between the luminaries of the new wave and the evangelists of video journalism.

    Godard, Rohmer, Chabrol etc. complained that the leading French moviemakers of the fifties had no respect for the art of moviemaking and accused them of “holding cinema in contempt”.

    The most strident VJ evangelists espouse the new paradigm only because it is fast and cheap. They have no respect for the talents of the producers or the discernment of the audiences." Read more here...

    And I responded
    Hi Peter, ultimately therein lies the crux. Video journalism's strength in a more tech-savvy environment might also prescribe a weakness, depending on one's point of view.

    It is the low hanging fruit. Pick up a camera, shoot, et voila.

    Photographers may still happily embrace the tag, "Amateur Photographer", the same goes for by Super 8mm Bolex users.

    But you're unlikely to find this anywhere in video journalism.

    There is, and it's not an argument for me, no distinction between the grades of video journalism inter alia.

    Perhaps partly because it's relatively new; relative with regard to the newspaper video journalism boom, and also peer review is thin on the ground.

    Renoir, Spielberg would not call themselves auters. They were bloody good to anyone who knew their work, but it took that mag that would evolve into an influential read and spark a movment in itself, Cahiers du cinéma, to bestow such a label: auter.

    If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. Hence you've a basis to argue that videojournalism is in fact DVCam film making for news and more, which has always been my point here

    But that's a mouthful and video journalist, like radio, magazine, newspaper journalist has more bite.

    But if we entertain the idea VJ is digital film making then like film it has rules that require being pushed, just as Lars Von Trier's Dogme movement added to the new wave of low budget film makers emerging en masse on the scene from the 80s. [Here's one of my fav snapshot articles about that era].

    But we're talking about video journalism, posts like yours and many others that talk about the process, form, style guide us to think further beyond its monetary advantages.

    DIY TV, Cheap and Chearful TV, Robocop TV - these were some of the nicer adjectives we attracted when we went Vj solo in the 90s.. Get a load of those cameras!

    We might have been partly to blame: yep I can do the job, (er badly someone just shouted LOL) of three some of us gleefully pronounced.

    For me years, I'd like to have thought we should have moved on.


    p.s Now here's a humdinger, Is videojournalism art?
    p.p.s just going through Bergman's collection - Seventh Seal. Watched it when I was knee high to a grasshopper, but makes more sense now. What about posting a pool of your cine favs that could lend to auterism.

    Friday, April 18, 2008

    Sports, Celebrities, VideoJournalism and Lennox

    Friends who know my past always ask when they see a snippet of news in the papers. So will Lennox fight again?

    And I always answer, I truly don't know, despite being good friends with his inner circle confidents and working for him as a videojournalist.

    Of the sportsmen and women taken by what videojournalism had to offer, few can claim to be as sussed than Lennox Lewis and his advisors.

    To date, Lennox owns copyrights to his fights and the documentaries leading to those fights because he's had someone by his side filming crucial scenes.

    Five years ago the term videojournalism was not universal but Lennox had already taken on one of the UK's most accomplished award winning film directors/producers Ken McGill, with incredible DV cam skills.

    He'd made films for Channel 4 on Sir Alf Ramsey, Gaza's Coming Home and Cricketer Ian Botham.

    And in the run up to the epic fight with Tyson, the team brought me.

    My brief covered several grounds: Vjing for Lennox's web site, Vjing alongside Ken who was director/producer, creating web promos, writing news copy and working alongside various broadcast teams in the build up to his mega fight with Tyson.

    Sports and videojournalism

    Sports and Videojournalism are made for each other, in a relation similar in the photographic world known as Special Photography.

    Here the talent employs the VJ/film maker, negating the use of big crews, which is what Lennox did.

    The logic makes creative and financial sense and has wider interests into the world of PR and Video News Release. If your client needs exposure, but wants to control their image hire a personal film maker/VJ.

    Photographers have been doing it for years working with publicists.

    The purists might argue it diminishes the journalism, that is verite of events, but that's a feature of modern day comms: Poachers, turned game keepers.

    Skilled VJs can still influence the outcome of film, if, as they should, have their clients trust. And the best films invariably involve shades of grey.

    This is certainly one of the growth areas of video-cam directing or to use the term loosely videojournalism.

    I have argued it isn't a one stop shop here and in one of the earliest definitions of videojournalism here

    Spice Girls Geri Halliwell, Madonna and a slew of artists have welcomed single crews to film them as either independents or to make their own films, made available to news outlets.

    And this relatively, untapped area will certainly grow as the VJ dogma gets bigger.

    Thursday, April 17, 2008

    How UKs first newspaper journalists cracked videojournalism

    To find out more go to site Mrdot

    By mid morning on the third day many of the journalists looked tired?

    No, more mentally fatigued.

    In three days they'd absorbed a cacophony of facts. Getting their heads around the technicals of the camera was one thing, understanding the visual grammar for TV, let alone VJims was proving to be tough.

    And then Paul Hartley, whom I called the Editor's editor dropped a bombshell.

    The head of PA's training, Tony asked me if he could have a word. Paul, the deputy editor of the Hull Daily Mail was already seated.

    However much they were doing now, whatever they were doing, they had to be battle ready in less than a fortnight, said Paul.

    His newspaper was doing the equivalent of a Columbus and Hernan Cortez -sea voyagers whom landing on shore would burn their ships, removing any route to go back.

    The Hull Daily Mail was going on line live with video journalism before the session had actually finished.

    Tony looked at me rather pensively and asked: "Well !"

    This was the first time we were collaborating so he had every reason to feel apprehensive. You know, the unknown factor.

    You might, I often say, have the best credentials in the world for a task, but that means nothing on the day when you have to deliver.

    You're only as good as the job you're doing at present.

    "Well if it's got to be done, it's got to be done", I added.

    That meant changing some of the training regimes. Pure video journalism would have to be pushed back, to ensure the group completely understood the basic visual grammar.

    Then Tony had a streak of genius. What if we planned an exercise - a real test your balls exercise [ not his words, but mine] - that put them through their paces in preparation for their launch.

    Tony probably had it planned anyway but now there was a real sense of urgency.

    "Got it, it's on", he would later confide.

    Cleveland Police will re open a case for the journalists to cover. In turn they will put up their rookie detectives who will NOT necessarily play along as seasoned pros would do.

    So from less than a fortnight as our deadline, it had now become eight days. 8 days to learn how to make television.

    It wasn't impossible. I'd once in the Holiday Inn in downtown Joburg taught four Ghanaian Journalists in three hours how to shoot basic: no editing, just good old solid shooting.

    Crunch Time
    By the evening as we were winding down to go home, Tony and I knew full well what was ahead.

    Simply it couldn't fail. The delegates could not leave without fully appreciating the fullness of what they had either done or had achieved. It had to be whistle and bells on top of what they expected.

    The industry and press was keeping an eye out and while no one would sing VJism amongst newspapers' success, if it went tits up ( horribly wrong) it might scupper any notion of newspapers becoming VJs - at least for the moment.

    The Society of Editors across the UK were watching with intrigue.

    That night I could have slept better, but then I only sleep 6 hours anyway.

    The next day was the beginning of a huge curve and it started in a fashion that proved how everyone was going out and out, literally as well.

    Drill mode on the front lawn

    On the front lawn of the Manor we drilled, and drilled and drilled some more. And I really did take on the role, amiably, of the Drill Instructor.

    "No where should you be?"
    "You've crossed the line, can you see that?"
    "Too long, the tripods down and set within 40 seconds- Press Conferences don't wait"
    " Take the sequence, now, take it now"..

    And so it went for the best part of the day.

    later during a tea break two of the journalists would say they'd got it, what scientist refer to as the wow syndrome.

    One minute nothings working, then the next it all falls into place. " Wow"!

    We could even afford to be ambitious by pushing away the famous 3:6:9 rule.

    And then it was Wednesday morning: day 8.

    A lot went on between then, but I have edited heavily, to be talked about another time perhaps, but there was fun mixed with the seriousness and many of the journalists still had to get the odd article, set up an interview here and there.

    "Ok guys I'm here, but not here any more. You know everything you need to know. We've done it many times and everyone's ready. I'm going to here but I'm filming you, so best of luck. Naah you don't need luck. Have a great time".

    I said this before leaving and while we spoke on the journey to Cleveland - a 2 hour plus bus ride, understandable some of the 8 were nervous.

    Katie's mic is turned backwards: there's a reason

    Today, soon they would have to process a wad of information alien to them 8 days before: everything from white balancing, exposure setting, focus, sound levels, spiriting the tripod, and then concentrating on the journalism and the visual grammar.

    In the set up at the press conference, I'm being parried out of the way. "Go away David", one of them says "I'm busy", as I try to film.

    Katie leaves her microphone facing her.

    I recently saw online another journalist laughing at what seemed like a basic error.

    If that journo or anyone other VJ has been in this situation before you'll know at a press conference it pays to have your mic turned around so you can pick up clean sound in your question, while your interviewee speaks into another mic in the second xlr input.

    That's the trouble with video journalism, many people read the manual and can't see any the other initiative. Example, the manufacturers would have you handle the camera in a defined way which goes against the grain of flexible shooting. And I haven't begun to tell you about the use of condoms in wet weather.

    By now we're 20 minutes into the press conference, But there's a problem. A huge *****ing problem. And Tony and I are worried. Very worried.

    To be continued....

    First UK Newspaper Videojournalists - The Original 8 Days Reduxed

    It's the VJ film that captured the mood and ambitions of UK regional journalists taking the plunge into videojournalism in 2005.

    The film "8 Days was a record of how 8 newspaper journalists after 8 days training would have to tackle their biggest assignment: a true brutal murder case, re-enacted by Cleveland Murder Squad.

    For me as their trainer, it was also one of those rare moments, a chance to document who the journalists were and how they would fare The feature sat around for months before it was submitted to the International videojournalism awards in Berlin and three months later, a week before the awards ceremony, I was rang up on a Sunday to say I had won.

    Back to the Present
    A basic write up was placed into one of my oldest domains from 1999.

    And over the years it's been quietly sitting around as I have concentrated on

    Today, I opened the site to give it a face lift and over the days will place more relevant information about the group back then and how some are doing now. was for me the site that would capture the solojo videojournalism paradigm, explaining what it was back then and how managers could use it. And it gave away one of the biggest secrets to learning Videojournalism used on journalists in The UK, US, and Africa ( Ghana and South Africa) .

    Robb Montgomery CEO at the hugely successful site Visual and Digital Editor and the brilliant videojournalist Gareth Bartlett at Cornwall and Devon are just two of many who've become fans.

    They say, what's never been done awaits to be done and you know if you've been there that it can be the scariest, loneliest place. There are no footsteps you can walk in, no handrail to guide you, just you and your instinct and ambitions.

    And this is how it all started one winters evening: 8 Days- the redux on

    Wednesday, April 16, 2008

    Reuters cameraman killed in Gaza - news coming in

    LONDON (Reuters) - A Reuters cameraman was today killed in Gaza. Fadel Shana, 23, was on his way to cover an incident when the vehicle he was travelling in stopped. As Shana was getting out, an explosion killed him and two bystanders, witnessed by local residents. His soundman, also in the vehicle, escaped serious injury.

    Shana, who had worked for Reuters in Gaza for more than three years, was wounded in August 2006 when an Israeli aircraft fired a missile at the vehicle he was travelling in.

    Shana was described by Alastair Macdonald, bureau chief for Israel and the Palestinian territories, as a gentle soul, happy and extremely bright, and one of the most skilled cameramen in Gaza who will be missed greatly by all his colleagues.

    Reuters Editor-in-Chief David Schlesinger called for an investigation into the incident and said Reuters thoughts were with the family.

    "This tragic incident shows the risks journalists take every day to report the news. All governments and organizations have a responsibility to take the utmost care to protect professionals trying to do their jobs," he said.

    "Our thoughts are with his family. We request an immediate investigation into the incident by the Israeli defence forces."

    Reuters has 70 journalists covering the Israeli and Palestinian region, 15 of which are in Gaza. Shana was part of the Gaza television team that won the News Event award at the annual Royal Television Society Television Awards in March 2008.

    This is the first journalist Reuters has lost in Gaza.

    To read the Reuters story here:

    ++ This press release was just sent to me. I have a journalist friend reporting from Gaza and am reminded of the late Kurt Schork from attending the Front Line Club.

    Wish hard enough AND You make your own luck

    I'm thrilled for her. I posted about a former student and friend Dionne Clarke when she got her dream job.

    The story is simple. Dionne was and is ambitious. She wanted to work for a big hitter. She did all the commitment and leg work and would occasionally drop me a line.

    We chatted and I'd share my experiences and offer what I could; the set backs, the highs the lows. When you're starting out as a journalist it can be tough.. real tough.

    I suggested she do a report for and she did. The more recent was DreamGirls. OMG it was freezin, but it shows how determined Dionne was, and then there was Sin City.

    Both times she was on the red carpet jostling with the networks. The videos went on view with her credit - what else. And she was in the midst of branding - new pics and web site which she could have dumped the vid on.

    It's easier to make your case to an employer if you have something, not just anything, but the very thing they trade in and it has quality written on it.

    The cut of Dionne doing DreamGirls is really loose so you're seeing the reporter at work chasing her interviews and being relentless. Dionne has that quality and she was able to demonstrate it.

    Frankly she could have done it on a Myspace, Bebo, Brightcove or whatever, but it worked out fine and now Dionne can be seen here burning he red carpet in LA for Sky Entertainment and here doing what she always wanted to do.

    Could you raise a glass to her evolving success and mull the thought that: yes you can. Dionne now joins the ranks of the pass it on. Humble, gregarious and self assured. Some one, somewhere will get lucky when she gets comfortable to start mentoring and offering a thought here or there at breaking into the industry.

    Er, so what exactly is videojournalism - snap shot

    Broadly, there are two styles at the moment: made for TV; and a more gonzo approach, but as it matures and as we will see globally different genres and styles emerging.

    So I was at this lunch put on for Alumni of Demontford University and a couple of the guests not working in the media asked the question.

    So what is a videojournalist?

    And d'you know what I gasped inside.

    No, not because I was tongue tied, but we often get caught in this bubble where the people we meet don't need a lexicon to comprehend our media giberish, that we forget KISS. Keep it simple stoopid.

    So I got home and rifled through my files. They've grown and as each expounds a future like a contemporary Columbus, a receding number of my articles talk about it in first principles.

    So here's a rough guide, a videojournalismlanding page which answers and talks about quite swiftly what this strange thing is. Do email me etc, it comes in handy and I'll compile the Multimedia, podcast and Web Comms sections at some point.

    The sections include: what is Videojournalism, Popular vids on Viewmag, which includes international award winners such as Dutch Ruud Elemendorp amd German Stephen Bachheimer. Some of the popular viewmag.blogspot posts, such as the journalism decree and common newspaper mistake in videojournalism, and then tit bits on making and dare I say a future of videojournalism - all in one place.

    Monday, April 14, 2008

    Iconic historic images/video must be free

    2Couple of years ago at a lecture I played 15 minutes of a compilation of dramatic video from 911.

    It was a 2 hour lecture; way, way too long for normal classes, but the pictures mixed to the sonorus score of Classical composer Shirley Thompson's New Nation Rising created a mood, you need not exercise yourself to imagine.

    It's worth thinking, some to todays undergrads and media students may have been too young at the time of 911 to have seen or acknowledge its utter profoundness.

    This week I'm fixed to talk to some secondary/High school pupils and while researching a project came across this quotation by Abraham Linclon.

    "The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country."

    Abraham Lincoln's Second Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862.

    The "stormy present" gave me cause to pause and think about that september. The journal of the present often takes its cues from the past.

    But alas I'm mad with myself.

    I can't find the tape. It was a digital vid compilation. After a fruitless search, I got mader, but about something else, but related.

    Video from one of contemporary history's most indelible news images is not freely available for use.

    They reside in the library of news agents, who scooped up the rights soon after, and whose usage therefore will incur some cost by the minute.

    This surely should not be the case.

    Some images - a page in history - are just too precious to be owned by a corporation. In the same way great and historic pieces of art are available on display, though yes I'm not allowed either to do as I please with them, BUT i can aquire digital versions, sometimes free of charge.

    There have been a llimited number of images that mark their own year zero in history. Haunting images from Nasa's flights to the moon are but one - and they've been made avaialble to use by the public.

    Recently the BBC announced it was to make some its material available for mash-ups; the public to do knead,edit and produce their own versions.

    The Net has spawned a common license, copy left, so for educational purposes no money changes hands, or at least it's token if anything.

    Some images are just too important to be locked away. And if you're a philanthropist who believes that news and historic events e.g. collapse of the Berlin wall, End of World War II, the Atom Bomb, Tusnami should be there for generations, buy up the stock and release it on the Net.

    And whilst you're at it it go to the agencies and do the same for 911. I have got some names and number of people to contact if you're interested.

    How might the web/journalism look in years to come?

    I posed the question to second year journalism undergrads and the replies were:

  • It'll be a 3d virtual world
  • You'll be able to talk to the device/platform to call up your request
  • It won't be the web at all said Graham, but something completely different.

    We looked at three methods for predicting the future

  • Trend extrapolation
  • The Adelphi procedure
  • Modelling and Simulation

    I then asked whether TV will disappear
  • Many said yes, but countered with what the definition of TV per se.

    TV has the magical power of being a social coming together tool, the equivalent of an electronic camp fire.
    Thus far the net is a personalised asset.
    What should give to change the way we react with the medium?

    And so it went......
  • Sunday, April 13, 2008

    Cultural eXchanges - fusing media practioners and artisans' social academic networks

    It was designed as a one off , but its fusion of key Artisans, and Media practitioners has made it a popular cultural event and ideas factory in the UK.

    This year I was one of the speakers at DeMontford University's Cultural eXchange and here reflect on the experience.

    The man in the front seat looked resigned, while nodding his head.

    And then 10 minutes later it happened again, this time accompanied by a mild chuckle.

    "Sorry", I asked politely, "er is it something I have said".

    Truthfully could it be anything else, but you have to love British sensibilities for broaching what might be a sticky wicket.

    "No", he replied, "it's funny, you're saying exactly what I have said in my thesis I'm about to hand in, and now no one is going to believe that it was my original thought".

    Bummer! I mused and kept going.

    You wait for one bus, then three come along at the same time. Transmediation, a colleague of mine would say. I still don't get it, but apparently we're all, at some point criss crossing each other in taking in the same thoughts.

    You could almost argue, original thoughts are few and far between.

    In a sizeable lecture room housing around fifty people, a hundred and twenty miles north of London, I'm delivering a lecture tailored to an eclectic gathering.

    A quick observation indicates differential interests: students, lecturers, TV personnel, the public and one Dean I would later discover.

    Read More about Cultural eXchanges

    Thursday, April 10, 2008

    BBC's I player sets the bronze standard for TV

    The TV design gate's open and whilst you could argue the BBC's Iplayer sets the gold standard, that's surely yet to come.

    The news that the BBC's I player has proved a huge success for programmes watched over the net anywhere, anytime is welcome news for those looking to the net as the broadcast standard-in-waiting.

    But with that news comes a mild spat between the Beep and ISPs claiming their networks are suffering under the weight of video downloads

    Not our fault says the BBC's Dir of New Media and Technology, Ashley Highfield, in a response that suggested that you lot should be grateful since we at the BBC have added something tremendously useful to spawn broadband growth.

    But the BBC has done even more than that, which should all become apparent soon.

    I had the pleasure of meeting one of the new team boss at the BBC's futures department taking over the launch of the Iplayer last year: a true big hitter with huge credentials from Microsoft.

    But that's not the point here.

    The Iplayer version 1, should at some point soon be replaced in time by version 2 and so on. It's the silicon way of thinking - which the BBC's futures department will no doubt have adopted. [there's quite a few valley thinkers in there now]

    Meanwhile there will be teams of outside techs deconstructing the player to refine their own releases. The BBC and others not wanting to lose the intiative will have to up the ante their end.

    One question is will the BBC share the technology as an open source and in future license the player, with a sure fire guarantee of its programmes being one of the core bouquet of programmes or will it protect its new toy - shades of IBM versus Microsoft here, and the rest there as they say is history

    The holy grail of broadcasting
    A makeshift Iplayer in various arcane incarnations has seen the light before. In the late 90s Microsoft made a lot of hoopla over its web tv and you only have to look at the market now for alternative playes e.g. roo, Mavern Brightcove.

    But where perhaps the BBC has had the upper hand is its's both technologist and premium content provider. It may not be getting viewers by the tens of millions any more but the long tail of downloads will do nicely thank you. My my what an interesting debate to be had at the end of the BBC's current license charter.

    The news will bolster the network, project Kangaroo as it has been dubbed, being created by the BBC WS, ITV and Channel 4 and who else to see of outside competitors eating into their market share - be away with you newspapers!

    With everyone now potentially a content maker, owning the transmission route and content will never be so crucial.

    In I have a dream on the gadget zone Damian peers into the future. Its a shortish quick read and chimes with views being talked about by the likes of BT.

    HD will rule - getting that over the web with nominal 8mb bandwidth is what the techs will be trying to solve.

    Stand up Duncan Whiteman, whom I'll be bringing you a video of pretty soon. Duncan as previously mentioned in posts has cracked some of the gordian knots bedeviling the Network content flow providers.

    At a recent meeting in Soho, his presentation left some heavyweight producers looking aghast. Jon Staton, formerly head of TV at Saatchi and Saatchi who runs his own successful agency, called Duncan's invention: the holy grail of braodcasting

    But will technology of the kind released by the BBC truly yield new formats in programme construction.

    I'm referring here to video with inbuilt hyperlinks, so you can jump from one video to another at set points, or second shift aesthetics -programmes that distinguish between made for terrestrial and online.

    Winners and Losers
    So great winners, but where are the losers?

    With the demise of appointment-based what role will be played by the classic commissioner?
    Will the future of TV revolve around making TV-based programmes first and fixed screens second?
    Will hollogram and 3d based Tv have any room to squeeze into our conscious?

    And how soon before an internet based programme network challenges the hegemony of existing broadcasters.

    Last week I had breakfast at the Front Line Club with some very clever people who asked the same question.

    With BBC layoffs, what would happen if half of those leaving got together with VC money to launch an alternative network.

    And if you think that's absurd, Channel One TV 18 years ago, which I worked for, ran a 24 hour station with a handful of staff - everything was either automated or staff were multiskilled.

    I'll post about 10 minutes of Channel One for you to judge.

    Many years on we're no longer reliant on cable, which Channel One was, as an alternative to terrestrial and Satellite.

    The Net is now truly coming alive. The BBC's Iplayer will have imperceptibly shifted a generation, whom previously will have seen little use for watching TV on the web. And with that the gates are well and truly open.

    David Dunkley Gyimah will be speaking at the World Association of Newspaper Forum in Sweden on Digital media training for the new newsroom.

    Four hundred editors from all over the globe came to the 14th World Editors Forum in Cape Town in June 2007, the largest meeting of its kind anywhere. We hope that an even greater number will join us in Göteborg, Sweden, in 2008.

    The tao of videojournalism - 10 common banana skins from newspaper

    Taken from David's lecture on IM6VJ amended from I love my bits of data Tricks and Tips of Podcasting

    When it first burst on the scene with hi-8 cameras, Video journalism had TV in its cross fire.

    TV News was clunky, and worse followed a set formulae. This new upstart would correct that. It would allow for images that were up, close and personal; the kind you could do without mounted camera.

    You try filming the equivalent of the Tour De France, whilst holding a beta cam versus a small hand held. You get my point.

    The visual language also begged a new literary language. That was the idea.

    The new event horizon of video journalism which many newspapers occupy looks to the bedrock of TV style shooting as its template.

    And why not, except that is if you see Video journalism as a form for the auter. Mix it up.

    Since the VJ boom, I have had the pleasure of training hundreds of journos from a multiplicity of outfits.

    But looking out across the prairie - there are some common banana skins worth noting - so here are my top ten.

    1. Unless you're shooting docs and are adept at observational-based features there are many occasions when you'll need a narrative. Probably the most difficult of forms, particularly with short packages is weaving SOTs/interviews in and out of each other.

    2. You need a narrative to nail the exposition or what the BBC referred to under its 90s Director General John Birt, "Birt's mission to explain", where you provide background context to the report.

    3. Videojournalism is as close to video agency-based story telling as anything else. Video agencies sell pictures so should you.

    4. That means script to picture rather than the easier picture to script. You'll get a more superior product.

    5. Interview in situ. You don't always need the set up - rule of thirds interview.

    6. Learn to pace the story . All stories have an inbuilt metronome. It can be languid or pacey. You can affect its pace in the edit, but try and feel the pulse. Here's an exercise: see if you can read the visual speed within the first 30 seconds of the next movie you go to.

    7. Write the spoken word, not the literary one. That often means halving your word count and working to active sentences with few parenthesis.

    8. The voice is an instrument and can telegraph emotion and meaning. Learn how to use it. Some broadcasters often start their careers mimicking a favourite before their voice comes into its own.

    9. Learn to break the rules that are there to help you on your way to shooting video. Remember they're just guidelines: rule of third, crossing the line. Watch Bourne for a master class in breaking all the rules.

    10. If you're shooting to TV's stanza, you run the risk of making your vids stale after a while. Mix it up, experiment. More to the point watch what other people are doing, not as a spectator but a technician.

    Taken from David's lecture on IM6VJ ammended from I love my bits of data Tricks and Tips of Podcasting

    David Dunkley Gyimah will be speaking at the World Association of Newspaper Forum in Sweden on Digital media training for the new newsroom.

    Four hundred editors from all over the globe came to the 14th World Editors Forum in Cape Town in June 2007, the largest meeting of its kind anywhere. We hope that an even greater number will join us in Göteborg, Sweden, in 2008.

    Wednesday, April 09, 2008

    the news release and specialist subject videojournalism

    It's early days, but could videojournalism give a much needed boost to the pr industry and the video news release? Absolutely and I wager a boon on the horizon.

    I'm convinced in part from research that includes the work of the Press Association with their photojournalists.

    Utterly fascinating, but more on that later.

    In the same vein, but somewhat tangentially could videojournalism bolster the understanding of specialist subjects? YEP you're ahead of me.

    The three areas that are close to me that could do with a shoe shine: economics, international relations and science.

    It's the Economy, er stoopid

    So said Clinton.

    Later today the news should be festooned with matters concerning the economy.

    Credit crunch, sub primes, and inflation.

    Will the UK be mired in recession; the US seems certain?
    Should the Bank of England cut interest rates by a 0.25 or 0.5 percent to stimulate activity in the economy?
    And what does that mean in terms of the billions it unleashes into the ecoonomy?
    Should the Bank of England's Monetary Committee have powers beyond interest rate cuts to get the economy going?
    And if it is assets and the maligned acivities of the bank rather than the more obvious wage demands ( not since the 80s) that has the world in this mess, why can't the banks pick up the tab, rather than pass it on.

    Lots of questions.

    If you live in the bubble that defines the gobledegook language of economics, you've nothing to worry about. It all makes absolute sense.

    If not, it's more than likely when you listen to the suits and shut your eyes you'd be forgiven for thinking Klingons are plotting a takeover of your neighbourhood.

    It's about bizzness, er,...

    Actually it's not that bad.

    Anyone who had the delight of working through the 80s, with the business community, will remember the pain.

    Then the language of economics and reportage was so dense and inpenetrable, you switched to the BBC Testcard when it came on.

    And it wasn't just the community, the BBC's big hitter Peter Jay, Economics Editor, was famed for being lapooned with the comment, that only two people knew what he was talking about during his report, himself and his editor.

    The alleged riposte is equally peachy; Jay is reported to have corrected this to say, he reports for himself and those that dont understand, well...

    Economics had such the whiff of dread about it, that I once remember horrifyingly being asked to produce the markets within a couple of weeks working at the BBC's flagship news analyses programme, Newsnight.

    Water torture would have been more suitable at the time, but it did have an effect.

    I swore I needed to grab this thing by the nettle and as such would later spend an illuminating but exhausting period at the LSE for some economics rewiring by day and working as a VJ for a year on the night shift - 8 in the evening to 9 in the morning.

    VJ Reportage
    How the big picture translates to those pounds and cents in your pocket is ultimately what matters and it's where specialist video reporters (VJS) stands to exploit.

    That means a couple of things, which newspapers already exercise - beat reportage - rather than the "snatch and grab" on the day, preferred by news outfits.

    It also means abandoning our penchant for the oft-used phrase: "that's not a picture story". I'd argue the opposite. How else could anyone of those Hollywood film makers take an intractable manuscript/book and turn it into a visual feast.

    In broadcasting you only need to examine side by side the difference in reportage between the most recent BBC Econs Editor Evan Davies, against Peter jay, to know you can be creative.

    With Videojournalism, again the big picture made personal can craete some of the best and easily digestable reportage.

    Its videojournalism inbuilt intimacy which could go some way in making econs matters that much easier to understand.


    Now then what did they mean by Boom and Bust?

    Boom:lower interest rates should stimulate more consumer spending, and less savings. The pound becomes weaker against other currencies with favourble exchange rates leading to more competitive trade for UK exporters, but not those willing to invest in the UK - they want higher interest rates... and so on and so forth.

    Now throw in the effect of pensions, futures trading, borrowing by the government, trade deficit and balance of payments and the film that tracks a family over the course of an economic cycle Q1 - and there's something definately going on.


    Was invited by a dear and awesome friend to the last showing of PUSH at the London Coliseum.

    Simply awesome. Shirley Thompson, whom I have featured on viewmagazine, and is a fellow lecturer, wrote one of the scores which has very rich South African township overtones.

    So not surprising, she's been invited to the influential Grahams Town festival in South Africa.

    Shirley's other claim to fame is being one of very few women to write and conduct for the Royal Philharmonic with her score, New Nation Rising.

    I began building her site here but got side tracked so I'm going to have an overhaul think, and bring in some talent to rebuild her presence. Jack, answer your emails. LOL

    Yesterday's post about auterism had Peter ( cheers mate) from Shootingbynumbers draw my attention to a great piece in the New Yorker about the parallels between Directors such as Godard and Truffaut and the Videojournalism movement.

    The platform of artistry from Push and 'auter theory' described by the New Yorker e.g. Cahiers du Cinéma et al creates a whole new area of synapses.

    It got me thinking about something I bang on about in advance vj talks: the fluidity and choreography of the camera in the way it pans and swivels from one subject to another. - a sort of steadycam visual language

    The Shield is one of the more recent advocates of this style, though going handheld sans steadycam gives that more rugged "inframe" look.

    Granted in shoots where you can't control the event, you've Little control over where and when to place the camera, but as I'm alluding to it's like a dance and you have to trust or build up your instincts.

    Of course it won't always work, but like any dancer some moves are modified and others jetissoned in production.

    In Brian de Palmer's Snake Eyes, there's the opening sequence which last a fair few minutes without an edit. Likewise in Bonfire of the Vanities, where the director hides behind a bellboy character on a trolley. It's about 5 mins long or something.

    Obviously in a film that's more than possible as you can place your characters and time them in, no such luck in a doc/feature.

    Or is that really the case?

    The New Yorker piece opens us up to the auters of cinema's old fashioned but often overlooked method for learning the craft. Watch loads of films.

    How many?

    Everything you can get your hands on. It's worked well also for Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

    Incidentally there's a great online tutorial from Rodriguez about how to shoot to edit, meaning you shoot so close to the final edit that little work needs doing afterwards.

    That again is one of the VJ mantras- or at least in my book.

    So back to the dance, awesome, free flowing, fluid, expansive - everything the best of art can be.

    And you know what video (VJ) as a form is not very different.

    Monday, April 07, 2008

    Few days off

    This last few days without any Net connection have been quite reflective.

    Well actualy it started off being a pain in the b*****e, but over the course I kinda just chilled.

    Five days, yep five days. But one thing that struck me during the period talking to other journos was the slow boil debate surrounding videojournalism.


    It's been fifteen years since I first picked up a camera and my NUJ (National Union of Journalists) card labelled me a videojournalist.

    Prior that for six years I had the dubious tag of a bi-media journalist, working on the likes of BBC Newsnight three times a week and spending one day as a presenter at BBC London's radio.

    Of course this may not seem like a long time, but even so I wouldn't for one moment be prescriptive about what others believe videojournalism is or isn't.

    I have my own views which have stewed over the years, and are part of my Phd studies, but I'm aware of the many differences, which I'm also eager to know more about.

    Scott Rensberger - a celebrated videographer/photographer resists the use of the word videojournalism applied to his craft.

    And judging by the ground swell of chat around the subject, it's probably not a bad idea.

    Frankly, it can't be a restrictive form wrapped around formulas and prescribed functions. That makes no sense.

    What some of the VJs I have come to know emulate is the role of the auter - with a strong sense of journalism that underpins their talents.

    In the 90s the Dogma movement had a lot to offer Vjism. There's little heard of the twin influences nowadays, which is a shame because dogma was a real and exciting breakaway from some of the conveyor belt qualities of film making.

    We could learn from that.

    But one thing I'm convinced of is that there are no fixed stanzas that rule vidojournalism; guideliness, yes, that enable anyone to launch a career, but beyond that it's what you make of it.

    It's a broadchurch with no fixed religion. In stark contrast to say modern art and its various movements, such as impressionism, cubism or futurisms, but that however I suspect will change as more and more practitioners take to the craft.

    Meanwhile I continue to look forward to the many styles and films emerging from the new auters.

    Ultimately it boils down to the quality of the film and its capacity to unfold a great story, irrespective of the tag vjism or not.


    Sorry, the servers been down for almost 5 days. I mean the pain. The withdrawal symptons.

    Ah well, I think it's up trouble free, so normal bizness resumes tomorrow.

    Ta loads.

    p.s Just launched a new promo on and finally have the radio doc aired on BBC World Service, Radio 4 and SABC Radio all availeble on hte front page of :)

    Wednesday, April 02, 2008

    What Al Jazeera teaches us about modern day media

    It was bound to happen, could be the refrain.

    Discontentment within the ranks of Al Jazeera forcing mass resignations.

    This week the UK's Guardian newspaper added to the raft of reportage, many have done so thus far via so blogs, quiet conversations, and a site that hangs out AJs dirty linen.

    In essence you could argue that the set up and architecture of AJ was ripe to go pear shape at some point, though that would be an easy hit - a cop out: all companies go through the antithesis of a purple patch.

    But has AJ's come too soon?

    Personally, I can't think of any other business ingredient to sour a company than to have two outfits of the same ilk occupy different hierarchies. AJ international Versus AJ domestic - sibling rivals, one born at home, the other, African dialect would refer as a "been to" ie Been to US/UK etc.

    In my first ever radio job working at the BBC, the station came close tot this: Asians and Blacks located to the rear, their programmes literally in one corner- sharing metaphorically paper cups, while the other side of the newsroom had Earl Grey.

    But this post isn't so much about a them and us, rather firstly my own experience with AJ and secondly, whether AJ's punt for a new of type of news journalism was a PR stroke too far?

    You've got Friends
    I have got some good friends at AJ, including the man said to be responsible for helping set it up, Riz Khan. One day on a visit to another friend, I found myself being interviewed for a post in Africa.

    How would I do this and how would I do that was the closed line of questioning?

    Frankly, I was a little put out by what I was led to be an informal chat, with some big name types, about their new venture, but I thought of playing along nonetheless.

    They the team of Brits looked mostly resigned, when I mentioned videojournalism. Their heads cocked to one side, you could read their bubble thought: "here we go another chancer".

    Never mind, I'm comfortable with what I believe I know I heard myself thinking

    However I was mesmerized by the loose chat that followed in which they talked about their eye of the prize - the new approach to reportage et al.

    I don't doubt probably the bosses are extremely pleased with what they've achieved thus far, but I felt the lack of Videojournalism as added reportage skills and the lack of innovation on the web meant something would give.

    For all the technological gizmos in broadcasting and now digital reportage, the one aspect of reportage that is consistently overlooked is the style and approach.

    If you're an exec, look away now, because the chances of you revolutionising news reportage after being handed shed loads of money go like this:

  • 1. Invest in high tech graphic suite and equipment
  • 2. Look around for the best personnel in the market
  • 3. Get that swirly logo punchy theme tune going

    We're wedded to an idea of news that is beyond rigid. It's a igneous in structure.

    News' Frankenstein
    The original arbiters of news reportage have a lot to answer for as nothing else beyond a woman/ man and a desk appears to brook any currency. Form and structure in news are untouchable.

    We've tinkered with solo presenters, double headers, red lights:hushed backgrounds, to zoo tv where there's a whole army of people working in the news ecosystem, but the DNA of news and its gathering remains the same.

    And any sign, reported in the press of a new dawn in TV invariably involves a rehash of a new theme, and, AND a roll out of the same old usual suspects.

    Nothing wrong with that, experience is the bedrock of what we do.

    But when the well's dry, it's time to inject new blood, outside blood: new disciplines, personalities et al.

    Last night the BBC did what it's supremely confident at: a feature on the sub prime lending market presented and written by its Economic Editor Robert Preston.

    It was marvelous, fabulous. Granted it took an army the size of the Persians at Thermopylae in 480BC, but it was sublime.

    You can't beat quality programmes: the film mixed genres of Hollywood film making, with pathos. It was erudite, creative and supremely impressive.

    The new discourse for news and features should be more of this. It stands the test of time, deserves to be revisited, and reworked - the web allows that. Hear this again. You don't have to abandon a programme idea because you did it once in a year. The web allows you do so much more with rigid TV schedules.

    If Britain's race politics reportage seems so distant to be non existent it's because the commissioners sacrosanct believe only one programme on race will suffice in a year. BROAD B*****Y BAND - WAKE UP!

    Al Jazeera's back lash ultimately isn't just about discontentment it's about a missed opportunity, none more so evident than in its web site, which is brochure ware par excellence.

    So while we wallow in a partial sea of mediocrity, news masquerading as infotainment and the rest, we do a generation a massive disservice.

    In 20 years time, if the then news and programme makers look back on this era, they may well scoff in disdain. What were they doing back then? They had a broadcast outlet - the last of its kind before we went super broadband and IPTV, and they wasted an opportunity.


    But you know what?

    The exec sitting in his office has litte to worry about. They're a couple of years shy of their retirement. Keep the ship steady till then, then hand over the problem to some young turk. "What do I care - I still get my bonus and healthy pension".

    What will AJ look like then? If present trends are anything to go by, very badly.

    AJ is a lesson in not how to launch a media company, even if you have lots of money.