Saturday, January 31, 2009

Solo VJ mini effort, max gain - the graft

It's easy to assume videojournalism is an easily acquired skill; it is, but if you've very little visual spatial skills, you're a shrinking violet and the last time you wrote something was for the school nativity play, you're on a steep learning curve.

Then there's the interpersonal skills. If you're a VJ of the kind I worked through, you've got to be as amiable as you are tough at making those split decisions [on your own].

Like any creative discipline, or for that matter any job, you've got to live through it and make mistakes. And you have to adopt a selfless and fearless veneer about failing.

Budding actors taking classes (did that) know a thing or two about how to fail, and getting to know themselves and those around you very quickly. There's something in that.

David in conversation with CNN's
Chritistiana Amanpour at the Front Line club
One reason why news discourse has moved very little in comparison to cinema's language or literature, re: the novel, could partially be put down to the entrenchment of news' classical episteme.

Just as an ill conceived and erroneous notion exist of journalists graduating from radio to TV, creatives within news, either move into docs or drama.

In its fifty years the dominant hegemony of news is to deliver the facts, thus rendering overt creative news programming as antithetical.

A fear of tinkering with this form or pushing any creative streak is eschewed. Blame the 70s/80s, with the number crunchers moving in and journalism realising its business acumen to turn a fast buck.

Thus if "You wanna be creative, go make movies!"

Thirty years later money making in news has shifted its heel into blatant entertainment e.g. Paris Hilton's new dog &^%$£@@!.

But as many social scientists will note, paradigms do shift, and the classical position can and is on occasion successfully challenged.

Videojournalism's changed news

There's a wonderful quote from Kubrick, where he says: "I want to change the form of cinema", and he did with what is acclaimed to be one of cinema's best film ending in Paths of Glory.

When was the last time you heard that from a news executive. There are so many factors at play here e.g. economic model, creative zone, historical habits that work against TV's half full status, exacted by some of its present 'gate keepers'.

This will likely change years down the line. History tells us that. We've only just experienced the birth of a new digital feisty form.

The auterism within videojournalism envelopes several iterations of many other creative forms.

Just as cubism is a sibling of surrealism, derived from impressionism rebelled against realism.

Videojournalism - painting with video - has its lineage.

It's one reason photographers, journalists, graphic designers, visual journalists have all found their own independent windows to enter the form and recreate their own magic.

Me, the peripatetic life I led as first a bi-media journalist/producer from 1987 within the BBC, (radio and TV) followed by employment in several different media companies, my educational background, and own personal interests have come to shape a strong sense of:

  • How videojournalism works: TV versus Print Journalist.
  • Its strengths moving forward, working in stations.
  • Video film's emotive level.
  • Videojounalism's technical vs the creative.
  • Its flaws.
  • Videojournalism journey.
  • And more .....completing a PhD. You can find latest works here on my site and Mrdot

How your past influences the present

From the BBC, I learned the purpose of the pre-shoot script, from the agency WTN, which would become APTV, I learned how to spot and cut-on-the-fly sequences coming from multiple satellite feeds demanded by broadcasters. The 'bird' - sat 41 was permanently fixed on the Mid East stories.

At ITN/Channel 4 News, how to play with words and produce in situ, whilst staying true to the journalism. From the many years of applied chemistry how to turn abstracts into the physical and embark on one experiment after another; LSE - the economics of course.

Whilst starting off as a videojournalist in 94 how to spot a story and carve it up several ways, then turn it around in a matter of minutes.

Nelson Mandela Tribute Concert 1988 Wembley - BBC Report with Peter Gabriel, Natalie Cole, Anita Baker, Neil Kinnock MP and Nelson Mandela

From Radio 4 and BBC radio presenting, the power of the voice as an instrument. This perhaps is one of the less recognised assets for a journalist. How to attenuate your voice range without seeming supercilious.

At ABC News, the American way of doing things; New Media, an appreciation that online it's all connected; with ex Saatchi head of TV Jon Staton whose agency re-active y re-active where I was a creative director, the emotional pull of the video and copy. The fewer the words, the better.

There's much we all bring from our past into our jobs and VJs blank status ( I mean its relatively short life span) means it can be directed into a number of routes.

But for that to happen, it requires practitioners stick their heads out, talking and sharing the form, discarding the dogma (we all sadly suffer those at times) that accompanies new skills and also enjoying the fruits of their labour in making public their work.

To rephrase Nike in relation to how you might get vj'ed up, means being reflexive about how the sum of your past add up. What is it? "Just Live it".

 Find out about Integrated Multimedia Videojournalism at with a number of how tos and interviews ranging from the former head of the CIA and Quincy Jones

Related posts - using Heidegger to comprehend an approach to videojournalism

Friday, January 30, 2009

Take one 84 minutes film

Spiros Stathoulopoulos PVC-1 was shot in one continuous 84 minute take using a glidecam. The award winning picture's about the terrror a family endures when a woman has a collar bomb fitted to her - based on a trues story

War photomontage - Iraq 24 frames

I placed this video on youtube sometime back and its attracted all manner of comments, usually passionate and often profane, which has led me to censor what gets published.

But this caught my interest, profound in thought. Why we fight is the disease and the panacea of our unsettling minds involved in dispute.

da9el1 has made a comment on 24 Frames in Iraq:

The pioneers of a warless world
are the youth that refuse military service.
-Albert Einstein -

They wrote in the old days that it is sweet and fitting
to die for one's country.
But in modern war, there is nothing sweet nor fitting in your dying.
You will die like a dog for no good reason.
- Ernest Hemmingway

If those at war only knew what they was figthing for..

David adds: Strong comments indeed.....
Pics by Yannis Kontos

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The art of storytelling - video journalism

The art of cinematic videojournalism, David will be revealing his latest piece of work and the strongest link yet to videojournalism irresistible flair.

Video Journalism: We can do this one of two ways; the technical and you'll get something commendable or the creative and I can't tell you where that's going to end, but I can tell you it should not be predictable.

I'm currently going through video after video from judging this year's International Video Journalism Awards, and while I can't and won't say anything about the event, I'm reminded of the theory under pinning good, even great stories.


At SXSW where I'm scheduled to talk, I have something that makes that point and the new cinematic language of news telling. It will be something.

There is a story in anything, but to get there we/ you/ me must ask the right questions. If you're new to the game that can be daunting, if you're a bit long in the tooth, then you're forever probing for tensions, seeking the soft underbelly of the story.

It's the collision of attributes, the rub of consequences, the absurd vs normal.

I have to say that's one of the great things about working through the BBC, alongside editors who pushed you, who demanded more, because they believed they/you could deliver.

And that ethos then stays with you, like a bad/good rash, depending. But knowing the technical and even being creative is not enough. It's the kwa, and something else, the passion of it.

The Passion of VJ
Video journalism/ film is passion, a get down and dirty to deliver something out of your comfort, embracing the metronome, the heart of the subject with a peculiar synchronicity.

It works because it works. The technical is subsumed by a creative bent and that passion.

Some people are naturals, but most film makers go through the pain, years of the graft; there's no short cut, you have to make, and make and make some more and often come away feeling it was not good enough.

You're like a chef. Having learned the basics, you then start experimenting, and often that gunk ends up in the bin, but you try again until you know you're onto something. And then the inner flamboyance, the passion takes you because when you're confident you start to fly by the seat of your pants.

You're tempting failure each time you attempt something. Not because you're maniacal, but you want to push and push some more.

I love film and video. After 22 years I still approach it like hyperactive toddler and each time I see something in say, Man o Fire or one of those cutting edge one dot zero films, I exhale a "wow" and return to my Mac wanting to see if I can replicate the narrative and then redefine it for my own use.

The art of storytelling can be found in many books, but you've got to let go. "just let go". Pick up the bike, ride it, fall off, then get back on, ride some more and then when you're confident close your eyes and ride. It's hairy yet ultimately exhilarating.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Research shows News unaffected by the Net

The news agenda has not changed and blogs have had little effect on the news. These were the findings of one of the UK's major media research bodies, in the wake of a major and ongoing piece of research. ( see previous post)

Goldsmith's media is internationally renowned so this research involving extensive ethnographic studies and interviews is not to be taken lightly.

In the face of noticeably huge shifts in the way blogs, twitter and web 2,0 have impacted on news, the reality after the research by academics is it's business as usual.

Some noticeable results
  1. Journalists were publishing more across platforms
  2. They were over worked.
  3. Traditional news set the agenda
  4. The mainstream of blogging fed off traditional news
  5. There is no real shift in a paradigm as we've been spurting.
  6. There was no real participatory exchange between public and traditional broadcasters such as the BBC.
The academics expressed surprise behind their research, which yielded equal surprise from the floor.

Any research and its framing has merits and drawbacks.

That is whether one adopts an interpretive(this link looks at wikis) or positivist epistemology.

Equally the methodologies behind the data can vary depending on the frame work of the questions and who's asking. Social Scientists have wrestled with these two polars for as long as they've acknowledged the differences.

It may sound incredulous that the impact of blogs, twitter and readings from the likes of Dan Gilmor, Jay Rosen, Poynter and indeed Charlie Beckett on which the researchers based their premise, count for very less than what we've assumed.

We can't dismiss Goldsmith's research out of hand, but does it require further analytical research? Would the make up of a highly qualified and venerable team make any difference to the outcome?

Would the pool of interviewees and question framing have changed the results from the times they spent with more than 200 journalists and a number of institutions?

Or as the head of the University of Westminster's research Peter Goodwin asked, is this research too early to determine any significant change in the media landscape?

A point that still does not describe what many web 2.0 practitioners see as a shift in the way news is being orientated by technology.

In one way you're damn if you do and don't if you engage in research which marries new and old media.

I'm due at Wemedia in February, and these findings offer new food for thought, at least from a UK perspective.

Live blog New Media, Old News Journalism and Democracy in a Digital Age

I'm attending a presentation by Goldsmith Research Centre Spaces and blogging this live

It's reporting one one of five projects; Internet and Journalism. based on a 150 interview with journalists and ethnographers

James Curran
is going through examples

  • He says in 1982 Kenneth Baker tech and info minister said cable TV would have a huge effect in the future says James Curran. It was a flop he says.
  • Interactive Digtal TV is another example - it would put the user in control. But only a minority have picked it up
  • Local Tv also promised much but has not really delivered.

He says we must be cautious. So what did we find, says.

Yes journalism is better and quicker, it's connected journalists to new sources, its given rise to new voices, ezines, and grassroots BUT it has not fundamentally changed journalism - gatekeepers still there; blogs have not come up with new business model; dominant news brands are still the major news sites.

To their (the researchers) surprise somethings are worse. Journalists up against a blizzard of info and its become a follow the leader. The Net has also introduced more admin routines, news is longer, journalists are asked to contribute on diff platforms and there are budget cuts.

He says there are good and bad things and some things have not been changed. There is a hybridity. Curran talks about one chapter here: rise of ezine, nature of dialogue around the world influences dialogue.

But Ezines is largely a western model, driven by men, largely occupying privileged positions. The Net he says has not fulfilled some of the hopes.

Angela philips now talking

Utopians and pessimists she says underpin the sort of research on the internet.
She's talking about the more privileged reporters. She says she spoke to a number of news ed

Were journalists contacting new people for stories cuz the assumption is blogs open up new avenues for research etc. Is that the case? Only two incidents out of a 100 did she come across where a story had been discovered via the net, unsolicited making it into a news room.

She says the salient trend was cannibalisation of other news outlets. she says she was shocked.

She adds journalists are using the net to maintain contacts and are finding small groups of activists to get stories - a small margin of democracy.

She discovered that they are pressures of trying to find news stories and not being able to get out. She said it was obvious at the Times, in where it was based. But the telegraph in Victoria ( central London) should not have the excuse of not letting its journalist out.

All the journos she spoke to said face to face contacts generate original stories. She says young journo are chained to their computers.

She noticed there was very little debate going on about privacy. What she discovered was that power was moving to the hands of journo who can find people .

Questions over what is original content and what is a user. It's not the same as a piece of well researched info. If editors don't allow for original reporting they'll get shallower and shallower. Smaller sites feed of the big new sites - she concludes.

Aeron Davis now speak show bullet points and how his research was informed.

  • Sennetts the cultures of the new capitalism
  • Weaker social ties, a decline of craftsmanship and the specialist knowledge is being downgraded
  • Carrier and Miller - and virtualisation - talks about abstractness.
  • 9/10 people (journalist)they interviewed said they used the net for research.

Aeron talking about how journalists are expected to reproduce on several platforms - great expectations and politicians say they're swamped with info.

The drain of people's time is spoken about on the basis of the multiplicity of reportage, when quality time could/ would have been spent talking to people.

They (journalists) say a whole lot of things have changed.
  • Slide: a conservative MP is talking about exchange of news. Websites used in the same one to many transactions in the way broadcast media works - still very traditional MP/politicians complaining about the volume of e mails they get.
Journalists says Dr Davis involves cannibalisation. Many journos/ politicians say they meet less and less.. There is a creeping feeling that the net has made gathering easier but there's overload.
Tamara Witschge and Joanna Redden
The name of their research was A new News Order ? Online News content

They reviewed a number of traditional sites e.g BBC, The Telegraph and non traditional incl Current tv (CT), Indy media (IM) and Open Democracy (OD)

What they discovered assessing five main stories e.g Prince Harry in Afghanistan etc., is that there's a lot of recycling amongst mainstream. Alternative news sites OD and IM have far fewer news pieces but are unique in CT recontextusalises and IM provided multiple angles.

But this sites can't get a big audience. W hen you research google and yahoo for the big stories you don't see the alternative media.

She's concluding by saying there is a lack of diversity and homogeneousness of the web. Traditional TV is still running the news agenda, except she say on Youtube and Current TV, where main stream is being re purposed.

Only on these sites she says was there some blurring, but their research shows there's the same type of news online and they're similar and mainstream provides little room to participate. The potential for the net to open up news is therefore limited, even though there are slithers of unique contents.

Joanna talking

Talking about the entire project and that it was huge ( my words). Says they interviewed a range 200 people, mainstream and non mainstream, plus a degree of ethnographies. It is a work in progress she says.

She's going through a number of points

  • How journos make news depends on their environment. Social, political, technological.
  • They ( researchers) wanted to explore all these different factors and hence how that influenced the news.
Says they were sensitive to journalists subjectivity.

Conclusion: News matters or does it she asks, but she says something emerged from their research that suggested journos were looking for something else.
  • She disputes this golden age thesis of what they'd produced. She's asking what should news be in the age of the internet. What should journalism should be doing?
  • There have been massive changes to news and how its performed (caveat she says they're not supporting tech determinism).
  • News is a business and commercial pressures have led to cheaper news to the detriment of news. Almost impossible to talk to journos anymore say NGO. This fast and furious space is leading to less contact with faces ( said earlier) So much fodder around that UGC is not viable to be used in a constructive way. Journos talking about 2000 emails a day. They couldn't find the time to respond
  • However there are spaces where the lines are opening, which they are trying to explore.

applause -
Dr David Gauntlett asks question about the basis of their research. James responds. Says they started of from the premise of Charlie Becketts (Polis) image of citizen journalism - a wonderful romantic image which isn't true, they say. Complete opposite researcher say they found.

I ask question concerning their framework and whether they were surprised at results.

Bloggers James says don't hold the attention of public - they're marginalised. There hasn't been a redistribution of network journalism.

Angela says Big news events will be covered by citizen journalism, but they're rare, However everyday journalism is done by journalists and bloggers respond to that. And that they were surprised.

Prof Steve Barnett is challenging their research and saying he is pleasantly surprised that the researcher started of from the 'lofty' image of Becket. ( loud laughs in the room).

What is 21st century journalism?. Did they embrace that question, he asks? Prof Barnett is challenging the epistemology and the ontological basis of their research.

Angela replies talking about evidence gathering and transparency. Joanna is saying journalists as truth seeker can be challenged.

Qu from the floor .American student asking what have we learned from the exceptional cases.
Aeron replies. Intensity of news, but not of real value to news agenda.

I ask is part of the question a half full rather than half empty, and not that journalism, traditional journalism has been eroded but that blogs have made a change

Q and A

Angela talks about the biggest change. TV and news bulletins are short and can be changed. technologically there has been a far greater amount of cannibalisation because of the Net. She says we're seeing wholesale steals of copy and stories. That's a worry.

This was an issue that has led to one US newspaper being severely criticised by a Jeff Jarvis.

Journalists, Tamara says, have a prob with writing in a different tone, particularly for blogs.

Maria asks whether Brit Journalism will go the way of US and become opinionated. Angela answers that it is far more opinionated. Steve interjects saying she meant broadcasting.

Paul Dwyer a senior lecturer, asks whether the use of the word democracy in their research in framing question thus shaped the answer.

Aeron replies that they could have looked at social networks, but the question arose for them are these news sites or entertainment sites. James says US media entertainment is at the centre of news says something about ignorant culture .. alludes to a poll saying US citizen 41 percent believed weapons of destruction had been found.

Broadly the panelists are defending the charge with the use of the word democracy, which Paul spoke about. Paul interjects saying there is a narrowing of the debate.

Peter Goodwin, head of research suggests isn't this research too early. That we're in an intermediary stage. If we look on in ten years time, asks peter, whether they will be the same ones or different ones.

james: says they're two responses.

Yes there may well be a transformation in the future, but the short term study is important.
Steve ends saying how do you differentiate between the economic change, the fundamental change in business and in the process of journalism.

Huge applause - end address. They're retiring to the staff room.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Perennial debate - the future journalist

It comes back every year, sometimes prompted by educationist and academics and at times by those on the receiving end i.e. the students.

We've two different Masters strands where I lecture. Call it the domestic and International.

Those on the domestic stream may well find themselves in structured newsrooms, where being an online journalist is tempered by the rigours of the journalism as it is executed online.

That is short sentences, active voice, pyramidal, taut grammar, knowing where to eke out the story from the verbiage of PR bumf, or plainly knowing how to fact gather first hand for the news construct.

International students however face a different prospect. If you're from Uganda, knowing all the above is a pre-requesite, but there's a high chance that added skills in CSS, Flash, api's, raw html, and Java will be of huge use.

Yes, you can still buy of the shelf any number of templates, but understanding the dynamics of the interstitials of online may provide you with a more rounded view of creating a site from the get-go, or even becoming an exec, passing down those skills.

I have see it happen here many times and several of the international students have gone back to run news sites as deputy eds or other senior posts.

Some have even set up their own ventures and doing well.

What are you?
A rhetorical statement! Are we trying to make designers out of them? No! They are journalists first and foremost, but girdled with a panoramic understanding of the online industry.

An understanding of the technical know how which inputs into Paul Bradshaw's illustrated news diamond, keying the life cycle of the news story.

From twitter, to blog, to article, analyses, context, interactivity, and databases.

At the very least it's not about immersing oneself in the code, but knowing how each one works with the other.

Twitter the link to the blog, whilst the VJ piece is on its way to be embedded in the minted article. The result of all this is a language of may tongues, which for the exuberants allows them to converse with any number of tech/journos along the new cycle.

"Sorry! You should be using ems and that relative link is being harvested by a robot unless you make is absolute and if you're not using the H1 tag you're losing out on valuable google juice"

Yep it's all gibberish.

The story of a domestic Masters journalist is a salutary tale to what might come, when you dip you toes a little more into the gubbings of the online world.

She was at Sky News on work placement and a problem occurred in the online section she was working in. Soon she cranked her head over as few tried to sort out the problem and noticed a stray root folder. "It's the root folder", folklore now has it.

The last time I heard she was still working at Sky.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Web journalism's forte during Israeli-Hamas conflict

From the album:
"Ramattan During WAR ON GAZA" by Hamza El Attar In this photo:
Hamza El Attar, Tamer Almisshal (photos)

A report by AP is further proof of the web's increasing hegemony over trad media.

AP reports during the Israel-Hamas conflict Al Jazeera outflanked all other media including CNN, because it had:

  • Reporters on the ground inside Gaza
  • Used social networks extensively to push media e.g. twitter.

Ayman Mohyeldin , Al Jazeera's 29 year of correspondent emerges as a star reporter assesses AP, which is another break in tradition.

Warcos (see front page of nowadays across the networks tend to over thirty, more in their forties.

The picture above is one of my stars, whose nebula hasn't near expanded to what it will be.

Tamer Almisshal, who started his career as a correspondent with the BBC in Gaza, age 24, and is now with Al Jazeera.

According to AP, AJ's web figures rose by 600 percent. In the US, where they have little to none TV presence, 60 percent of their web jump came from US-based onliners.

That jump is repeated with shows like Riz Khan's Q and A.

AJs continuing web rise
Riz, a good friend and renowned international broadcast figure, alongside AJs brand, demonstrates that while policymakers may seek to curtail media penetration, the web will provide freer access points and viewers will decide over regulators what they want.

Watch out for an interview between our Masters students and Mark Regev, Israeli government spokesperson, which took place two years ago and features a Q and A from Tamer.

Read AP's article here.

Another Star- this week
This week I'll post an interview with Rania Al Malky, one of the youngest and most dynamic editors in Egypt.

She's one of the few women editors in the country of a daily newspaper, which in itself is one of the few, if not only, independent English language newspaper in the region.

The Daily News is distributed with the International Herald Tribune.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Strengthening photo essay visual story telling

Helpless from Keith Loutit on Vimeo.

Tilt shift photography technology is 165 years old and should be hitting iphones if not already.

Simply the technique means positioning a camera in a manner that combined with a large aperture creates a shallow depth of field ( everything bar your subject is out of focus)

Well, It's in vogue again. In Time Magazine Vincent Laforet has a kick a** image that is just sublime.

Sydney photographer Keith Loutit's has pushed it a stage further mimicking video ( above) via time lapse. On my twitter I link to what one site calls 50 of the best tilt and shifts and they truly are awesome.

Two years ago I posted how to cheat it using photoshop. Here's how. It's not perfect, but the effects can be quite dramatic.

Expect to see this and others combined to up the ante on rostrum montage sequential photo essays.


Journalism software integration

No one said it would be easy.

And there's no such emerging piece of software that screams Journalism.

History tells us that the gramophone's intital use was for recording voice before some bright spark decided music had some merit.

And Facebook, summer of 2005, when a professor at Missouri introduced it to me, had nothing to do with journalism, but students staying in touch with one another.

Co-opting is certainly de rigeur now.

There's a nice piece from Storm Media, which co-opts an animated cut out expression to tell a visual story, which works equally well as a pop video.

How did they do it? Well you can ask Brian himself if you're going to be a Wemedia. The organisers are looking to see if we both can lead various groups into the deconstruction of multimedia.

Amazing story telling
But back to his piece. After Effects!

Yep by now, you're editor has just figured out what flash is. Don't even mention Director ( huh!)

But after effects is the unsung hero in film making.

This one by Storm Media, mixes animated masks, in which you need to separate images firstly from their background. Then Camera and 3D on a path.

It is time consuming. Rob Chiu put together a project like this for his "Black Day to Freedom". And there were a few nights when we spoke, it sounded truly labouring.

But as you can see the results, Media Storm and the Ronin, are brilliant.

But how do you visualise the end goal if you've no idea of the ware or what's possible?

How do you get into that zone?

More later, but this year's motto could be learn a new software package that has nothing to do with journalism per se, but will have huge pluses down the line.

p.s I'm using animated masks from Flash for the front cover of, which I'll build up to something.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Diagrams/praxis and how to creative think -journalism?

Just finished a 2 hour online session with my research class into the use of diagrams as a feature for research.

It has interesting implications for creative thinking, for the likes of video journalism/ journalism. At least for me and many others who draw out their plan, either as a meme or actual scribbly story boards before setting off on assignments.

It's the journey of unconnected that form new axioms and new ideas. re: brain storming, which this afternoon engaged with Masters Journalism students to visualise programme iddeas..

Any way here's a precis of some of the things said today from 7-9pm. All names are that of research students, whilst Susan and Leslie, Devril etc are the all part of the teaching supervisory team.

As the debate was unfolding on drupal, I teased out comments that needed further enquiry or leaped out at me.

[ did not take down links from intro - doh]

My take on this is that of using visual methods to "How do I know what I think until I see what I say" Forster

images/diagrams are also sequential

susan kozel:
i like the suggestion that diagrammes are liminal, or interstitial practices

transliminality - a best word - pulling stuff (a technical term) out of the intelligent unconscious into the conscious intellect

the diagrammatic process used by paul klee, it is just a sketch book so familiar to us

Look at the Semiotic Sqaure of Greimas (1987)

yes, photos can be seen as functional, but Heidegger said that drawings need to exist to pull objects into relief against the ground of the functional

- debate ff here why people don't draw. fear of being ridiculous or that they think they can't draw.

drawing requires visual editing process while you are putting ink on the paper, but photography makes you to snap the moment without editing.

surely it a conversation between transmitter and receiver and the connections

sketch is an instant and more true than a snap of photocamera, however camera can be more objective (Gerard Richter has a lot to say about it)

Theory comes from visual, not a visual illustrates some theory. Using John Berger’s quote:

For the artist drawing is discovery. It is the actual act of drawing that forces the artist to look at the object in front of him,

A drawing is an autobiographical record of one’s discovery of an event – seen, remembered or imagined.

I like Wittgenstein, 'A picture held us captive and we could not get outside it for it lay in our language and the language seemed to repeat it to..

All the intricate philosophy of marks, signs, and traces plays out in drawing. Drawing is the place where blindness, touch, and resemblance become vis

Typography is diagramming with words

Klee: it is a visual metaphor - a way of marking his thoughts - perhaps like automatic writing?

there are those who are visual thinkers (temple grandin fe) and those who are verbal/textual

susan kozel:
drawing is akin to the curves of our thoughts

brain mapping now shows if you have a series of long connections vs short microcolumns you are a 'wired' for visual thinking

[ note I missed some of Bruce's interesting inserts on his geoworld]

Temple Granding: "thinking in pictures" published a few years ago

bruce, thanks


Alison: thanks for Csikszentmihalyi


A person who forgoes the use of his symbolic skills is never really free. Csikszentmihalyi

I fascinated with the non(traditions) of graphic notation in music. The cage image is a manifesto for the instantaneous and its capture

susan kozel:
for bergson intuition is a philosophical method

susan kozel:
intuition is a method

susan kozel:
it is in the first chapter of Deleuze;s book Bergsonism

is diagramming also an info-aesthetic, ie based upon an illustration through an a priori language, of icons, symbols, lines

David ( me)
Drawing/ diagrams have been hugely significant in sciences c.f Einstein and Kekulé - who discovered the ring shape of the benzene molecule - the 'gene' of organic chemistry after a day-dream. Some say it was the start of structured theory.

As a chemist we were always encouraged to draw to visualise chemistry's abstractness, unfortunately to the detriment of writing

the scientists we work with often draw things to explain them to us artists

visual programing has a long and interesting history

susan kozel:
merleau-ponty says perception is based on motility, and learning on perception

Mind maps, meme's as art. For the Olympic bid there was a giant canvas of ideas in one of the lecture halls at UEL, covered all the walls helped the bid in crystallising ideas.

very true Alison. painting, drawing are extremely kinesthetic

robbie - do you man circuit board diagrammes? i was thinking of those


My mind as a meme

Meme/ Mind map for Current Affairs module

Mind map for intro into current affairs for Masters students studying doc/current affairs, explained to them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Day - pic from university.

University of Westminster, London.

We've just broken off from classes before the inauguration.

In the foreground transfixed, Kienda Hoji, Course Director for Music, who is part American and from diplomatic stock.

In the background me capturing a shot of the television.

The picture was taken by Andrew Otto, a Masters in Journalism Student.

The verb that is "Barack Obama"

The dials are lighting up at the stations. We're in London. I'm listening into LBC-speech based radio.

Could there be an Barrack Obama in the UK?

Some callers blame Britain's class system. All our previous Prime Ministers come from the upper echelons of society e.g. education, wealth, et al strata.

Some say there's still institutional racism - a term Britain's race czar, Trevor Phillips, said should be consigned to the waste bins.

They said that about black footballers not to long ago a caller said, but then now look, there's a healthy number of black soccer players in the UK premier league.

Then a few claim it could, but not in their lifetime.

One caller says he's not moved by all this and does it matter, for which the presenter James O'Brien countered : It matters because if colour is a bar to progress then there's no guarantee we'll get him or her.

One listener texts into the show lamenting the debate. Why doesn't anyone talk about whether a white person could be president of Africa? Yes, Africa?

Young Black and Inspirational
Eric Miyeni, a well known South African polymath says he broke many apartheid rules as a young man. He's still in his thirties.

"I would walk into a restaurant and the way I carried myself, my confidence meant if the manager wanted to chuck me out, he would find it difficult to tell me", Eric told me from spending many days with him for a documentary.

You need to fix your space and beat the system with words, not anger. Eric certainly had all the qualities Obama exudes, at least when I knew him, except rather than pursuing his degree in law, he fore sake that for a profession as an actor/ comedian.

If politics, as we tend to interpret and why not, is the Everest of any high office or all professional careers, then President Obama's mind blowing achievements are just that mind blowing.

But there are many Obama's outside of politics, working youth centres, criminal justice system, education, health and local municipal politics, whose ambitions fall short of the mother of all offices, the presidency.

But as I was watching the screen yesterday, I couldn't help but think, like millions, the "what if" that the images could have on a new generation.

And, whether there was any mileage in any articles searching out the Obama's of their fields - something Ebony does in celebrating success, and something that could have a wider merit of interest in our times.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Day like this - web we can

On a day like this, you'll remember where you were and what you were doing.

The occasion drew on memories from reporting in South Africa, the inauguration of Nelson Mandela. The first black president having broken the yoke of legalised racism.

But while the similarities are prevalent, of course there are significant differences.

Does a new political era chasten a different reportage in style and issues; a new prism to view culture, people and the arts?

Does it shift an ideologue away from dogma, or what traditionalists prioritise to lead the news agenda to something broader, more pragmatic?

Can we barrack that we've been led to believe is important? Petite politics, Personality trivia news, vacuous issues dressed as central themes?

This is a reworking of a now popular tone .

I hope to talk about an innovative video journalism initiative at some point.

A continuum in "change journalism" - which I have wrapped up in a 30 sec promo opening

To paraphrase the architect of this day, perhaps, just perhaps web we can.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Go to the web some more young journalists

Ed, a former University of Westminster student now working at the Financial Times

It's difficult to talk about the web as this new thing anymore, but it's interesting sometimes how much scant regard is given it by new journalists.

Ed, a journalist now at the Financial Times talks about how important the web module was for him.

Now in his present job, he gave it short shrift at the time. Ed was a strong enquiring student, so deserves his early success -he freelanced at the Guardian during his studies, then soon after got this job.

I caught him sitting on the news desk one morning whilst training Financial Times journalists about videojournalism.

You can find that training programme and how the police stopped us filming here. This film on Ed was shot on a Canon Ixus 70 which I keep in my coat breast pocket.

Ethics and new Journalism
But there are also professional standards and ethics, we as journalism lectures must emphasis to a generation, more so, given the wild wild west about the web. This is something I talk about visiting colleges and engaging with those within my institution.

For instance, the use of copy or anything which breaches the rights of others and professional bodies. Its relevant because, even though the web is this anarchic soul, there has to be some order to the way we treat others and deal with material not deemed our own.

Because ultimately good journalism is also about good journalism practice. Go to the web young journalists. Please read.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

1001 novels everyone must read

In the Guardian/Observer a panel compile a list of the 1000 novel must-reads, with names such as Thomas Harding, Far from the Madding crowd (1874); DH Lawrence, Women in Love (1920) and Enayat el-Zayyat Al Hubb w'al-Samt (1967).

What these all have in common? They're all love stories. Er, I might have once flicked through Mills and Boon, and Jackie Collins and Barbara Cartland did get me pondering a world of dashing doers having their cake and eating, but 1000 novels, where d'you find the time?

Then again, I spend half my waking days behind a Mac, watching a film or making my way to University- 3 hour ride back and forth - or some meeting.

Now that might be ample dead-zone time for a novel, but then I'm more this genre I have got my head buried in at the moment. If you're like me, you're a grazer: pick up one book, consume a couple of pages, then graze through the three others in your bag. I can't help it.

So currently in my sack.
  • Truth - a guide to the perplexed, Simon Blackburn
  • The Wisdom of Crowds - James Surowiecki
  • Tipping Point - Malcolm Gladwell
Latterly, this book seems to have pushed all the others aside, Obama - Audacity of Hope.

Great scene in there when he meets up with Bush in the WH after forsaking a group photo for food. As they both walk together, he unconsciously finds he's put his arm around Bush.

A reporter, was it, said she liked the first book and wondered if he could pull this one off.

Whoa, New York Best seller list!

President elect Obama is a kitchen story teller. You know the sort of person in a party everyone gathers around in the kitchen as they tell their tales.

They'll be no shortage of listeners now.

Meanwhile a nice turn to the story of Joe Biden.

Having accepted he lifted passages of his presidential running speech from a former UK running prime minister, Neil Kinnock, Kinnock now finds himself off to Washington courtesy of Biden.

Now who says being nice after you've been plagiarised doesn't work.

Frost/ Nixon interview - wow! Collectors item

It's not often an interviewer will make an exec look like they're on the run, let alone a president or former. Frosts now epochal interview with Nixon over Watergate, the subject of a current film Frost Nixon, is worth seeing.

But why just go to the cinema when you can acquire the original - a collectors item for the princely sum of £1.60, because it came free today as a giveaway with the Independent newspaper.

Terrific stuff!

Strange how you can find moments that make you reach for your contemporary history book to rediscover the events.

I was with ABC News in South Africa at the time, in the midst of the South African election, when ABC staff begun reflecting, hearing that Nixon was poorly and would likely not recover.

If you haven't got the DVD hunt one down.

God is Black -Time Magazine

Witty piece in Time's inauguration preview issue by Michael Kinsley noting how the Brits (us) having lost it all, have now been stripped of that quintessential omni role of being the Voice of God.

And that it's now to be found in the rotund vowels of James Earl Jones, behind CNN's tag :" This is CNN", [Does he get royalties each time he says it?] and Morgan Freeman.

Essentially without delving into the minutiae, Kinsley has noted the accented Shakespearean presence that was behoved to the Almighty is no more.

Burton, Gielgud, and Guinness, some of the finest thespians of their generation once convinced a generation of US nursery kids who'd pester their mom and dads why God was speaking in a funny accent.

Well those days are long gone, though Kinsley forgot to give Julian Bond a mention: I mean Eye of the Prize..

Any wonder, he says that if a Black Man could be God, then high time he made president.

All cheery fun.

Here's a trick given to me by a veteran voice over artist when I had to do the occasional piece in my high squeel voice, have some chocolate. Apparently it dampens the chords, making them resonate less and you begin to sound like Barry White.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Friday, January 16, 2009

The $500,000 water plane Flikr picture

I've been asking around. If this dramatic pic by Janis Krums of the US airway's crash and rescue went exclusive it could have by conservative estimates netted half a million for Janis.

It's an interesting dilemma. If you're a blogger/twitter and you come by a news story of this magnitude, do you:

  • 1. release it immediately and get famous?
  • 2. wait for a bidder?
  • 3. tag across it and put it out; the original after a sell won't carry your logo
  • 4. you don't know.

There are many newshounds scratching their heads about the sums they could have commanded.

Pap pictures can fetch anything up to millions depending on how exclusive and important the picture is.

The video taken in 1996 of a plane unsuccessfully landing in water, blogged earlier today went for about 70,000 UKP, which would have been near 120,000 US at the time.

It was a dramatic video ( not sure the couple had an a agent. Doh!) so frankly they must have been gobsmacked at the sums coming their way. In any case the comparisons with the significance and symbolism of the NY pic in today's frenetic media world are poles apart.

The famous pic used by the BBC of 7/7 underground has an interesting history. It was given to the BBC, but then a number of media felt they could also use it. The owner, I understand, with help from the BBC was able to recover some money for the its improper use.

Janis Krums may well reap significant rewards yet; he already has with air play across various networks and a flikr hit rate through the roof.

It's likely Krums took more than one, so he might still be approached by a magazine to see the others and or buy the original of him.

And given the popularity of the pic, its unlikely anyone will ever be able to use it without his permission ( creative commons aside- if that was being exercised).

Mind you if you're the phone maker behind the pic, that's your stock rising after a lavish campaign. So keep an eye out for where the photos going. 500,00 US is still possible.

landing on water -its origins, but unsuccessfully

Air JetLiner Crashes into Sea

This was the moment that passengers held their breath. The landing of flight 961 in 1996 off the Comoro Islands, East Africa.

Fifty people survived. 125 people died on on the flight including one of the world's most respected cameramen/photojournalistst, Mohamed-Mo-Amin.

The circumstances leading to the crash were very different.

The video was shot a South African couple on their honeymoon in the region as they lay on the beach.

I was working at WTN at the time, which has since become APTV. WTN acquired the film and in a frenzied bidding right, and once acquired promptly sold it to the aviation industry, effectively making their money back.

The video's unique quality. It's the first and only time a commercial airline has been caught attempting a sea landing, which means it would have been studied by the airline industry.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's comments about how "incredibly brave" Captain Chesley Sullenberger and his crew were in landing their US Airways Airbus A320 safely on water is being universally acknowledged.

The South Africa couple who shot this video may have had an unwitting hand in events more than a decade later.

Look your age and act it

Oh the problems over looking youthful. Not for the first time.

But at the recent BJTC meeting, Liz Howell who runs the TV and TV docs at City University and a stalwart broadcast manager, almost single handedly slung me out of the meeting.

I arrived puffing, barely able to get my jacket off, when Liz approached on guard. Eyes closed in, finger pointed and the phrase: You're not allowed in here. It needed me taking my cap off and a meek, "really I'm allowed in here" look before she realised.

Must have raised a giggle over at Adrian's City, cuz I got sent the following:

View As Web Page
Subject: Secret of eternal youth
LOLLis Howell told me she thought you were a student!!!!

It's no wonder successive students perhaps walk into Westminster and perceive a twenty something lecturer and wonder: "what the hell he's doing here ?".

Must tell me aerobics teacher tomorrow that this jumping up an down malarky is working; though truth by the time we get to mid term with looming markings, I've aged considerably.

Now where's that snake poison elixir!

Why if you're a student, you MUST blog

Oh what like I don't know? It's been raked over ad nausea:"why should students blog", but here's my bent as a senior lecturer, former broadcaster, and blogger.

Firstly, I'd wish the name blogger had an alternative to it when looking to brand studious and prolific writers in journalism. At the next attempt launching a writing template, please simply call it "writer" and watch the fundamental difference it would make amongst student journalists.

Updates soon from "Writer lite", "Pro" and "Gold standard." Which one would you prefer?

So why should all students blog?
  • That perennial yawning catch phrase that your lecturers cease to let go off; you become your own publisher. Tick box.
  • Then, your blog will enable you to write about matters which concern you and your friends if you wish, a re-wording of the previous point. Tick box.
  • And then a moment of silent clarity and internal huzzahs: you've joined the new world, a journey into digital journalism, the unknown, but which gathers pace in its quest to reformat the art of knowing and telling. Tick that box.

So why is it some students or trainee journalists resist the urge to blog or feel at best it's an inconvenience, worst rubbish?

This is something I come across wearing my top hat as a BJTC council member.

Briefly, the BJTC is the body which sits at the interface between journalism colleges, universities and the media industry in the UK, and whose kite mark of accreditation is much recognised and admired within the industry.

Why you don't blog
There are a number of limited reasons why I could think as a student, professional or who ever you may be, you should blog, but I'll keep this to students.

Overheard at our last BJTC council meeting yesterday by one member: "Oh if they could just write, our HR (Human Resources) could do with students who could just write and write well. Getting techie, yeah, but write".

Now here's the its not rocket science bit.

If you want to be an actor, act; if you want to be a psychedelic pharmacist, you're going to have spend some time in the lab; if you want to be a writer, write. With some professions theoretical knowledge alone just won't do.

Here I'm referring to writers as journalists and not fictional novelists. Two separate desires, no less superior to each other, though many journalists in their lifespan tend to become novelist than the other way round.

What blogs do is strip bare the tenants of journalism.

Disregarding the most complex of tasks, setting up the blog in the first place and gathering any number of widgets, you're being defined by the art of pen to paper; key to screen.

You are who you are by your posts, the frequency and quality of your style and argument.

Were I a media manager, I would insist on seeing an interviewee's blog. I understand the Guardian Newspaper does.

A blog provides a crucial insight into a potential journalist employee. That never mind all the wonderfully well phrased entries on that CV, the blog says the following:

I James Meredith Sinclair, studying journalism, blog because I am:
  • Interested in writing - determined by the frequency of your posts.
  • Can display broad interests or how well honed my specialist knowledge is - determined from the quality of your writing.
  • That fundamentally, and often overlooked, it is my online CV, my "newspaper cuttings".

Yes strange as it may seem job applicants once used to walk round with dog eared binds, stuffed with their columns and bylines painstakingly cut from newspapers, and if you were a broadcaster researching any number of subjects you went down to the cuttings library. Ho hum.

Reasons why you don't blog
Often young trainees and student journalists will have reasons for not blogging. They vary, but some reasons are more prevalent than others.
  • Not knowing what a blog is - fairly common.
  • Not having anything to write about ranks in the top three
  • Too busy with all my other work is a strong favourite
You could probably come up with your own counterpoints for the aforementioned. Here's mine.
  • If you're unaware what a blog is and you want to become a journalist, then I may question your hunger. Just as if you wanted to become a chef and you didn't know what a microwave was you'd have me reaching for the next candidate.
  • Having nothing to write about portrays a lack of high media consumption and perhaps forming your own ideas, which yes, is a skill that will develop at journalism schools. But if you don't listen to any radio news, read other blogs, watch the news, then you're isolated and will have little to fire the imagination into damming the hubris of that politician or health care spokesperson.
  • And if you're too busy, then whilst that's to be applauded, you're exhibiting a key flaw of journalism practice which is a lack of organisation and priority.

Here's my back-in-the-day lecture. Sorry!

But back in the day, in 1989, when Daniel Boettcher, now one of the BBC's all rounder correspondents, was my classmate, and blogs were not around, our lecturers at Falmouth in Cornwall pressed us with work. At times it became mind-splitting, until the low down in organisational skills was aired.

Why you're never too busy
News does not respect time, it is not guided by what period of day it is, neither is it sensitive to whims; it happens. It's relentless.

And when it happens on your patch, you'd best be there, and when another big story happens on your patch again, you'd best be there as well. You simply don't have the luxury to say you are busy.

You may have made the decision not to do anything about the latter story, but that's a different matter entirely.

This was best put to me by the venerable and inveterate ITN News Editor Phil Moger, a true powerhouse in journalism and passionate about it to his retirement having served it many years.

I had some shifts in the 90s at ITN with Phil as Editor. After the niceties, for the following half hour my to-do-list kept rising steeply with one assignment or another.

At each turn, either Phil or a correspondent would request where I was in the task and why I hadn't finished. I'd been used to multitasking, but this was something else. Soon I would approach Phil, and after our exchange, he smiled.

There's no such things as being busy, just know how to prioritise and once you make the editor aware of what you're doing, let the ed make the call.

Later I would learn how to say "I'm busy" and by then it was understood and appreciated how truly busy I was.

Prioritising and finding the creative period in your day means a daily post should take you minutes. More on that in my next post.

The new writers
I have come across some wonderful student bloggers. It would be inappropriate to single anyone out from the current Masters programme, but from previous years there's the likes of Richard Brennan of Newsjiffy ( class of 2006) whose blog gets to the point, far swifter than I have here.

And also from outside where I teach comes Adam Westbrook from City University, whose latest post indicates how far City Uni have come with blogging.

I still remember that moment when having spoken about Adam to my students, various friendships were formed and Adam and us (students and me) would later meet at the Front Line Club.

Students from competing universities who share something in common - a creative common.

Then there's Dave Lee, whom Like Adam defines the future. In both cases, yes, they've recently pinged me, but that's not really the self-vanity point here. They're good strong bloggers reaching out.

And there are countless more, including as I alluded to before current Masters students whose blogs I read. But there are many others who have not taken the plunge.

Ultimately, and something Darwinist might say, that needs to happen. There has to be a distinction. There needs to be difference, a hierarchy.

You may rubbish this, for we're all not built the same, what interests you may be nonchalant to me.

But our job is to provide a route so that everyone has an opportunity to make strong their case for becoming a paid and respected journalist.

Blogs to some people, may actually not matter, but they do provide a weather bell, and if no one reads them nay mind you're at least, at least, doing something no one else can do for you which is....
There is no royal path to good writing; and such paths as do exist do not lead through neat critical gardens, various as they are, but through the jungles of self, the world, and of craft. ~Jessamyn West, Saturday Review, 21 September 1957

Next week what to blog about and what we've discovered in access to blogs.

David wrote his first published article at 15 for his school mag about the Neutron Bomb ( pretentious Ba*****) He doesn't believe blogging will save the world, but it will make a world of difference to understanding issues. He sits on Council of the BJTC

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Judging the UK's best TV media in Innovation

RTS meeting, 5th floor

When the email came, it was a polite, short, and to the point.

That was 3 months ago.

Today we gathered. Nine of us off Black friars, near Fleet street - the home once upon a time of the might of British newspaper journalism.

Our task might have been simple enough, but there was nothing simplistic about it: to judge this year's UK winners of the Royal Television Society Awards in News Innovation.

It is a highly sought after award, the equivalent in the US would be the EMMYS and it strap line is often emblazoned across the face of its victors. This year's entrants, as always, were stellar.

There's much I would like to discuss here, but I won't because it violates the openness in which juror members spoke.

There is substance in this that could lead to further debates for academic purposes, so I have an idea. But for this session a reworked edict of one of my haunts rules, Chatham House rules.

All I'll say is the submissions mixed online, with offline, video journalism and personalised video, drama and journalism, and ambition with ingenuity providing the seeds of where TV could, might go next.

After the awards event itself in February, I may post more expansively where there will be appropriate context.
RTS jurors for News Innovation 2009

What is Innovation
Innovation is a fascinating area of enquiry. What defines it? What values are inherent within it? And is it an acquirable commodity?

The media whirlwind we see ourselves surrounded by at present is being whipped up by innovation and creativity, and there will, I hedge, be much store placed on this as we move into a new cycle of offline and online expansion in these trying times.

Bill Thompson, a technology pioneer for which much has been written about was one of the jurors and this supposition is an area I will return to with Bill in mind.

Incidentally, and I hope he's not embarrassed but here's Bill in 1996 from a broadcast about the future of British newspapers made by a Videojournalist colleague of mine. [link soon]

There is a note which affects my own assessment of innovation, and I'm referring here more to my job as a senior lecturer.

It is that no matter what I see, however small or grandiose something is in its bid to be innovatory, there is much that can be discovered about process and fortitude.

Those qualities alone may not win for innovation but I'm intrigued about that process all the same, the ethnographic quality.

So in debates I have learned not to be so dismissive. That said by the end of the day there has to be a winner and alas genius can often be a scant commodity.

Searching for Innovation
On a general note as well, what we consider innovatory, may well be, and sometimes be far off the mark.

Innovation searches for great leaders, whom inspire others, and the more diverse the debate about the journey, the more creative, I believe can be the outcome.

Watching Danny Boyle, an awesome figure, talk about Slumdog Millionaire which swept the board at the Golden Globes, is a typical example.

After screening to an Asian audience, he was asked on the BBC's Culture Show how he managed to get the richness of the city on screen in a way that suggested he must have lived there.

I was lucky, Boyle said, but then he spoke about someone, I'm presuming a fixer, he had kept on and would advise him and his team where they could be going wrong making clunky mistakes.

You can see this 7.29 minutes in on the Culture Show on the BBC's I- player. But quick because after a week this link is deprecated.

Innovation is a mixed mind pursuit. At the start of the web 2.o "S" curve, it was an Achilles for TV. But much, much, has changed since. Though "mixing it up" still holds water.

This article from Edward Roussel, digital editor of the Telegraph Media Group, for the Nieman Harvard Reports site is a compass for navigating the new journalism, and being innovative.

So back to the RTS. It is an award for innovation, which did have me asking introspectively. Why me as a juror?

I might have wishfully hoped the fact that I had a broadcast past, had worked across several broadcasters -all with different house styles - had an insight into the world of newspapers and would yap like a terrier without drawing breath if I was brought onto the subject of innovation and new media.

No, I'm certain, but I didn't ask. But mixing non broadcasters and broadcasters in a room together does yield interesting areas of discourse, so there it is perhaps: that mixture of academia and media.

But I was here all the same and am looking forward to the event itself, where I hope [with permission] I can put together a VJ feature package around this most fascinating of subjects.


David Dunkley Gyimah is also a 2009 juror member for the International Video Journalism Awards in Berlin and will be in Miami for the Gamechanger awards, where his work was cited.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Slumdog millionaire - playback

Culture Show 10 pm GMT, Asian youngsters question Danny Boyle, director of Slumdog Millionaire - worth a watch.

The making of slumdog, the titbits I have been picking up, is extremely interesting.

They had to work with the backdrop/environment, and were equally urged not to stereotypically portray the city.

Fascinating to know that Slumdog almost didn't get distributed and was days away from going straight to video. Now, it's picked up four Golden Globes.

Funny ol world.

Monday, January 12, 2009

redesigning viewmagazine articles is going through a few face lifts. At some point I thought of abandoning it. But have slowly come around to an alternative.

Quite a few of the videos, you've prob noticed don't have controls. That's because they're pre-Flash FLV.[2003]

It was a nice idea back then to present video at all.

But user control and navigation are even more pertinent now than they were back then , so it's meant reworking those files.

Similarly, even CSS on the pages require updates with hand held encoding, particularly if you're using IE 6 or 5.

Understanding what's going on is probably good enough for me, but then seeing something out of kilter needs remedying.

I'm a firm believer in the rule of interdependence: let the specialists do what they do, but when everyone's busy, you've simply got to pick up the tools and try and do it yourself. That was what brought on viewmagazine in the first place.

The articles are often an illustration of a theme, and perhaps a method of how I might cover it.

So the report on The Mayfair Club, one of London's most fashionable night clubs, whilst not new as a feature piece, coupled with the more open use of white space in the article, provides an example of a particular slice of work.

Here's the Mayfair Redux, and an update coming soon.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Matching cinema's new promo strategy

Fighting for the same attention, eye balls, time and money, cinema bosses have become complicit to a number of ways to get front row, before you decide staying at home for a rerun of Wired - fantastic drama - is indeed a good idea.

Hollywood kickstarted the trailer, it discovered the DVD, and now a surprisingly interesting proposition.

I first noticed it on Doubt - an intense drama on the morality and burden of proof of child abuse by a member of the cloth, staring Hoffman and Streep.

And more recently, before general release on the much-talked about Valkyrie starring Tom Cruise amongst many, documenting the intended assassination of Hitler.

In both cases, though it's now deprecated on "Doubt", you could watch the first six minutes of the film.

I can't think why only six minutes, but what bosses perhaps are gambling on is that it's enough to get you immersed into the characters and the chance to make up your own mind against the welter of flux talk - that's the back chat over a movie's worthiness.

And I'd say it seems to work. In both cases I can see myself trundling off to the plex and handing over my tenner.

Now, what's the equivalent in innovation in TV? And I'm not advocating the equivalent action in TV by the way.

The days of "tent poling" and the likes, on TV, are being usurped by the depletion of appointment TV, more so online. And so it's online where these ideas to engage the new, time poor, consumers could play out.

I'll say something though for TV.

NBC 1998 and their innovotary exploration of "Homicide - Life on the Street", which saw an extension of the TV episode play out on the web, with a new team of detectives.

Now that truly was clever, and that was 1989.

Responding to Prepare for the Future, Skip the Present

To Prepare for the Future, Skip the Present

‘… today’s obsession with saving newspapers has meant that, for the most part, media companies have failed to plan adequately for tomorrow’s digital future.’

By Edward Roussel who is digital editor of the Telegraph Media Group (TMG)

Ed wrote a truly fine piece on ,
Nieman Reports (Harvard site). I have a few friends who are former Nieman scholars, so often take a run around the site. Do read the piece. Below was my response.

David Dunkley Gyimah says:
January 11, 2009 at 3:22pm
"Stop trying to control everything and just let go! LET GO! "

One of the more memorable aphorisms in 1999 from David Finch's "Fight Club".

Quite a few media execs are picking themselves up, handkerchief dabbing that upper lip; either they've got a hang of these abstract new rules and expressions e.g. (SEO, code-event driven multimedia) or they've confined themselves to the thinking: "it's all gonna stop soon - this madness".

This year we're told to expect the following:

- Increased traction to mobile web; writing twitter type micro stories
- Refinements in search string optimisation
- More APIs encouraging greater mash ups
- Thermo, 3D, and further breakthroughs in HD web video and videojournalism.

And then as one respected company, Razorfish, put it, expect more of the unexpected.

Sociologists might refer to this period of uncertainty and abstractness between journalism and the media's comprehension as "Grand Theory", when what we appear to be caught in is a highly fluid phase of Deduction.

Meaning you can match customs [macro and micro] and behaviours, to the way viewers and readers are inter and (intra) reacting with a myriad of new exhausting apps and modifications - spawning new social theories.

But you need to be in it, to see it, let alone win, which certainly shouldn't turn you into a techie shepherd, but open to the idea of the speed and paradigms of change affecting the media/consumer/ etc.

Countless newspapers, particular the big brands with room for "Chatham House" rule type experimenting, are already in there.

And, building up those figures may help thwart any future shocks. Or should that be "those future shocks".

Old sea hands scoff at 5m waves; quiet storm, they say, she'll get a lot more rougher yet.

As Ed put it, the dominant newspapers have an advantage over start-ups.....but time is running out.

Here in academia, and outside, with the an eye and modules on the future, a new generation of all round digi-journalists is gestating.

Thought-swilling piece Ed, and I have enjoyed the training and interaction with your extremely bright trainee multimedia journalists.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Future Net TV - Outernet shapes up

Many of the big names in TV manufacturing are now building Internet capability into TVs. Now there's a surprise.

It's the annual fest of TV people in Las Vegas. The other news TV's will become 3d. Extrapolating games culture trends gives some idea how this might work.

The trick, with Internet-TV, is to transmogrify
the socio behaviour of lean forward to the big screen. It's been tried before, but didn't much work. I attended my fair share of NET-TV meetings in 1998.

Still have Microsofts strategy document they gave out.

But now, and I recall posting about this in 2004, HD wide screens have been normalised into the home. This IS the Outernet. If you compare this image here in this article, with this one Apple featured from a couple of years, spot the difference

Ipod - a mini culture cannibalising super sizes - is accepted. You place your ipod into a docking station to get surround sound. We might not shirk now at wifiing the cinema screen while still controling the screen from my Mac.

Essentially it could act as an intelligent monitor.

If this does take off, then the televisual feel for websites, not breaking the fold, will be common place. 950 px x500px may not be a daft idea after all.

Er someone called it daft recently.

Does it seem much of a stretch now for video story telling to take on a cinematic feel?

p.s Did you know Slumdog Millionaire was a whisker away from going straight to DVD? This link says US TV dramas are looking to go big time on the internet.

See Trends 2009 posted two days ago