Sunday, November 29, 2009

Newer horizons video networking

This week is Creative Fight Club on in which we'll be refining the horizons for videojournalism and social networking.

And tomorrow 15 years after a bunch of people took the plunge into the unknown with videojournalism many from Channel One UK will meet for the first time at a wine bar in Charlotte street

Apologies for my absence. Time has become a commodity I need more off.

Even as I write this, there are markings and films to edit and make. But its been an eventful week and as the winter months take hold. I can't see any let-up.

An article I posted on finding a job was due to be followed up with a radio piece I heard on BBC Radio 4, in which one of the UK's leading technologist asked why the UK had nothing to rival Silicon Valley.

For the life of me I cannot find the original item on the Today programme. I break sleep at 6 in he morning. The item was on soon after, and Radio 4 only record their show from 7.00 am.


This week in future journalism
So to this last week includes:

  • An informative post about the journalist of the future from the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones. Synopsis. Editors still want the pros, but having other skills help.
  • New journalist Damien Van Achter from the Belgian TV station RTBF gets flagged up after US State department offered him an interview with Sec of state Hillary Clinton, according the article.
  • Elsewhere, I have been talking about this for a while: the idea that you'll say something presumably innocuous only to find out you're being sued in the libel capital of the world, London.
  • Here's the BBC Today broadcast. Scroll down to 8.48.
  • And on Andrew Marrs political Sunday show, finally an issue that has blunts any attempt at journalism on London's streets.
Beware because police powers means they'll stop you in the name of Terrorism laws and demand you stop taking photos. You can see what happened to Financial Times reporters
when I was consulting with the group over video journalism and we got stopped on a story.

And finally reports the Telegraph why did the US fail to capture Bin laden when they could - a senate report asks. It couldn't be that he was worth more to US military resources now than he was back then because that would be a perverse thought.

"Removing the al-Qaeda leader from the battlefield eight years ago would not have eliminated the worldwide extremist threat," the senate report said.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

5 tips for job hunting. Did you know? New jobs for grads to exploit

International class of 06 contains a couple of newspaper editors, senior writers and web savvys running their own companies e.g.

Its the worst of times and the best of times.
Digital Awards winner David Dunkley Gyimah reports on creating your own job, which ultimately will have employers tapping you, as well as working with new companies, not in the traditional sense of paper-handling intern, but in influencing their digital media strategy.

This screw back corollary proves one thing, we've been here before, and cyclically, we'll come back again.

If you're a university grad it's cold comfort; if you're different in other ways, including ethnicity (Yep still!!) it can be an up hill struggle finding work.

You and Yours BBC Radio 4's consumer programme about youth and university unemployment made for grim listening yesterday but it wasn't too long ago that I remember upping sticks to South Africa to find work to avoid a UK recession.

In South Africa, I found work - back from the BBC in London, from the very departments that previously said "No thank you".

Lesson 1. It's not personal

How to find work
One of my bug bears, for those that know me is the paucity of industry-wide creative thinking in exploiting and creating new economies.

As a fellow Artist in Residence put it to me which led to him launching New Deal of the Mind, we'll get ourselves out of this recession by mining our rich creative talents.

The Did You Know, series takes poetic license when it says the following, but broadly speaking, SEO, Twitter, Videojournalism, were either absent or non-existent in 2004.

"The Top 10 in-demand jobs for 2010, did not exist in 2004"

There are broadly two streams of jobs on offer Traditional industries ( that mop up huge numbers and keep the economy going) Vs Emergent (experiment with new ideas, and drive the new economy before they themselves become traditional)

At my keynote talk to the UK chief executives in sport last week , I spoke about the hidden employee; the one you never knew you needed, because there is, as yet, no job description.

The New Journalist
Here IS their description:
  • Web savvy -well versed within the ecosystem of Net and various apps and websites
  • Read widely and want to understand processes e.g. Why does that work?
  • Has an understanding of audiences and behaviours on the web e.g. why text walls don't work in blogs etc.
  • Has an affinity for technology - e.g. open up word press; they don't understand, take out a book and then spend hours ( well spent) trying to understand.
  • Know how to write for the web - they blog. What makes a good article?
  • Ask lots of questions and feeds back lots of ideas. They share and consume.
  • They are both creative journalist and entrepreneurs. They'll do before asking.

Are you a new journalist?
If that's you or inching towards you, then I have been singing your praises and I'm thrilled to say there was a great meeting of minds, a singing from the same hymn sheet with various CEOs from my talk.

A couple have already sought new relationships with universities; you'll find on this video towards the end a delegate tells me he's taken it on board.

And others have been asking about the new journalist, the one who does all the above or wants to and can add new value to traditional and emergent companies.

Yes, it's not easy; that much I know and appreciate, and this is not something you turn overnight, but I have been fortunate enough to 'mentor' some people who have proved. "You can set your own agenda".

The question is who do want to work for and how badly do you want it? Because if you're a new journalist and have not started some of the above of your own volition, you're leaving yourself to greater competition in the market place.

What was it, please correct me, Radio 1: The number of young people wanting to work in the media - some 20,000. The number of jobs available in trad media on rotation ( people leaving for others to take their place) 2000.

Five tips for new journalists
  1. Study the present and what might constitute the future of the web, journalism and comms.
  2. Study those that have power and the ability to employ, and strike a relationship.
  3. Prove you're a cut above the rest by exploiting the web. Like you, many of us e.g. Rob Chiu started from zero knowledge. He inspires me. I might have developed but I know I am no where near the talents of others I have come across.
  4. Shift your job seeking focus from the end of your course, when everyone else is looking to a nearer time line
  5. Seek out the emergent and traditional. If a job doesn't exist, it's waiting to be made, but be sure in your mind, it's not about finding a job, but what value you bring to your new employee
p.s And finally connect, talk, connect, realise each other's skills and share. Believe that the more you train, the better you become. The more you desire, the more hungry you get.

This is a numbers game and you create your own luck, not now, but then.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Videojournalism Sports CEO Convention UK CCPR

Videojournalism Sports CEO Convention UK CCPR. I'm going to re post as the sound levels keep dipping and Youtube's recompression is affecting the aesthetics. Also need to rewrite and aston.

Media Exposure - how the media works

David talking to UK CEOS about how to make friends in the media with a resource like Precise. Latest video on the event here

Whoever coined the term must was most likely drifting off somewhere during a board room meeting: "Getting into the pants of the media".

But it's an apt, but coarse description for receiving media exposure and how the media works.

In effect, whatever news can be canned, ready to open at the right time, right day, relieves pressures in a newsroom and enables news outlets to plan ahead.

News is all about planning, David Brewer (Media Ideas Internationa) a friend will tell you.

He helped set up CNN online, BBC Online and Al Jazeera's web ambitions.

News outlets achieve this with a combination of skills in-house and then the rabbit-in-the-hat, providing advance notice - the agency forward planning diary.

Simply this is how it works, all the major events coming up including film premieres and embargoed items (news you can't say anything till the right time) is packaged into a data base.

And more importantly contains the name of contacts, yep the right person to talk to.

Looking at how to get an interview with the cast of "New Moon"? Exactly!

Newer Media workings
Most of the top news agencies subscribe, firstly to find out what's coming up and often to pick holes in their own news agendas.

Audience members at CEO convention

Often many news editors ignore the heaps of faxes and press releases filing into the newsroom ( yep sorry!), because they know they can subscribe to a service like Precise to do all the heavy lifting. And it is heavy lifting, believe me.

Even more interesting, rival news sources use it to ensure competitors aren't across anything they should obviously know about. News is a bit like a Meerkat colony- everyone's watching everyone else - which is why newscasts and the papers often carry the same content.

Twitter et al may be great for breaking in news and recycling it, but as things stand nothing quite comes close to being privy to a good forward planner.

At Channel One, it took our in-house forward planner ages to set one up. He'd been poached from the BBC.

At the BBC, where I worked on the likes of Newsnight and BBC Breakfast, different departments would hide their news agendas to ensure they had fresh news to report. Planners allowed them to think up nicely put together features.

Insight into media exposure
In recent times though the forward planner has broken free from the ranks of media, and news contributors are getting in on the act with their strategies.

Think about it. You're a CEO. You find there's a big debate on sports in a fortnight's time, so you ring the editor of one of the big media and kindly offer to provide a quote. Et Voila. You've just helped a journalist out and got yourself on the news.

Running parallel news strategies entails not just ringing up an ed, though that's crucial (Don't email yet; NEVER FAX ) but providing a trust quotient: Who are you? Are you on google? What does you website look like?

Understanding the ecology of news through planners provides you with a wider understanding of how media works.

And that could work for you too. Get planning.

David was talking to CEOs at a UK convention organised by CCPR - an umbrella body for sports bodies. Thanks to Sarah Wait from Precise for talking to the students at the University of Westminster.

Exchange ideas with David at redesigned and follow him on Twitter here

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Visioning with UK Sport body CCPR at their CEO Convention.

CCPR CEO's Convention Nov 2009,

"What did you think? I thought he was alright. Couple of things he spoke about I didn't quite get, but yes I think he provoked thought.

Actually I disagree, I don't think he went deep enough."

It's two weeks since the UK's sports umbrella body's big gathering on November the 18th/19th and execs are assessing the feedback.

I'm David but I thought what would it have been like to sit in the audience and listen to me, so briefly I have made up this pseudonym, Jason Edwards, from the federation of Touch Rugby, based in Falmouth, seated in the audience. Jason brings together some of the feedback I received afterwards. I guess the really bad ones would not have been said to me face-to-face :}

Jason Edwards writes
I liked the videojournalism. I hadn't heard of it before so that got me thinking, but I would have wanted more specific examples, but it was interesting to see how he conducted a live interview.

He covered a number of things, perhaps a bit too many, but I found I was cherry picking. Social Networks is something I already know about. I got the sense that he wasn't in favour of them or had issues, so I would have wanted to have known more.

I guess yes, its difficult when you're having to address members in which we're bound to have varying needs, but he seemed to know his stuff. He moves about on stage a lot, which for me was a little bit distracting, but that's a small matter.

My needs at the moment are not so much the use of these new tools, but its impact on our corporate policy. It's alright to look at these networks and say you need Face book, and Twitter, though David wasn't saying it that way, but we have to be careful with our brand and the way we communicate with traditional and new constituencies.

What would you give him, well probably an 7.5 - 8/10.

Jason's response, also blogged, found its way to David who posted this response.

David writes

Hello Jason,

It was good to hear your feedback and thanks for the grading :). I entertain all comments. It's what makes us, me, grow, so thank you.

I spent considerable time thinking about the pitch for this eminent event.

All talks have their different dynamics and so I donned my lecturing hat, media coat and artist shoes to work the room. The shoes, maybe that's why I walk around so much.

You probably didn't know this, but I had a couple of videos teed that were specific examples of sports, and more importantly would have, I hope, given you time to breathe in between my talking and perhaps reflect on some things I might have just said.

Videojournalism Sports promo video - see here for report on Channel One

Sadly a system Adrian, the technical wizzard, and I had worked out to trigger the tapes went South. And I got so deep in the zone that I missed the cues. Hahahaha Lesson learned for next time.

I tried not to go too deep as I figured that would be slightly unfair to those approaching this for the first time. However, lets continue to stay in touch, and hopefully we can share some mining-shaft stuff.

If anything there were a number of thoughts I wanted to get across.

  • That Social networks (SN) are not new, but as the in-thing at the moment require some thought. What do you want from your network if you plan to create one? Remember the unit currency for business, money, has been replaced by something else - your "free time" and "transparency".
  • Your payoff is having a relationship with your SN offline. Ask what you're giving to your new friends, what they want and what you're getting back?
  • Splintering is an obvious default of SN, as needs change within your dynamic fluid group that coalesces around needs. SN will reward you when you're giving them something, otherwise it's a dormant affair. Celebrities/VIPs provide the illusion of access into their private lives. Non-celebs may need something more tangible otherwise those huge number you amassed after your bril pronouncement might illustrate you have 1000s of friends, but that's about it.

  • That videojournalism offers a rich seam of visuals and films. And you can do it on any number of cameras, such as this one here the GY100 JVC.But VJ is NOT TV.
  • Train staff, but also consider setting up relationships with universities. There are media grads who you could empower to deliver something for you, that goes beyond the internship of "we tell you what to do"
  • And that mobile and the web will go much further than it is now ( see Reuters phone film) . 2012 is a date that will have more significance than just the Olympics.
  • Ultimately the future will be personalised TV, hyperlocal and Public visions (seen here on Apple). Kent TV presents an interesting case study in council TV, as does Swindon becoming the first large town to go wifi. The publicity alone they're getting may have been worth it all.

I promised Sallie Barker Head of Services for CCPR that I would write an executive report, which I will with video inserts from interviews and links to useful sites and strategic points, so do come back to me/ in about a fortnight's time, or less.

Cheers David

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Britain's digital future

Media expert Peter Bazalgette says the Guardian is in trouble.

Jeremy Hunt MP could be the next Secretary of State for Media, Arts and Sports, so it would be wise to listen to him as well as secure an interview.

I'm yet to work on the latter, but in between a panel discussion and drinks, that grey zone after a conference I managed to catch him for a few words.

Firstly, did he have any strategy for helping media employment with the many students who will graduate and find themselves competing in the jobs-for-the-boys-and-girls-market?

Secondly how would his strategy for sports differ from Labour in view of the ping-pong, indeterminate approach to sports the government has attracted from critics.

Crickets return to terrestrial TV seems to smack more of retribution to Murdoch than an honest plan say the detractors.

And Lord, good lord what's going there. You might as well sell Buckingham Palace

Big Digital Question
Both big questions said the shadow minister, trying to get away, nicely, before doing the Clinton touch reminiscent of Primary Colours.

"What's your name?", he asked, before repeating "David Dunkley Gyimah" and adding "google me for my email and send me an email".

Conference-afters, everyone wants to get away and when you're accosted by me - part geek looking, part soul-man-gone-wrong, sporting chinos, army walking boots and a tweed jacket - you sense the pace quickens.

I blame my parents for still looking like a 20-something, when I graduated uni more than twenty yeas ago.

This was a select crowd so I was thankful for the invite. The evening itself was empathetic of the big themes, even though wasn't time enough to drill into particulars.

Digital Highlights
But the highlights were as follows.
  • That Labour would not adequately address the issues of Net piracy, the digital levy for broadband and devise a proper strategy to saving the nation's ITV local news
  • Peter Bazalgette, a UK creative behemoth who launched Big Brother, argued we demand 10 million quid from the BBC and Channel 4 for new programme content and that he felt the conservatives would not downsize OFCOM.
  • He would also add that the Guardian newspaper were in trouble financially. Their success online presents "a double whammy" to their print form making money.
  • Sacha Deshmukh, a giant in media corporatedom looked forward to a bridged divide between gaming and TV.

I recorded part of the proceedings and will put that up later part of the weekend. Here MP Jeremy Hunt answers a saving local media.

Hunt's future of media was that the net would be tv and tv the net. Not so foolish, me on, after all.

p.s Thanks to Charlie Beckett for the invite.

An easy guide to Social Networks

Social Networks, now there's an interesting term, which you could be forgiven for believing is reasonably new.

Its rotation alone in the media would lead us to believe it is the "cure all", just as Marxism's proletariat uprising would cure society. Of course its much more complex than that.

More than a hundred years ago, academics started to probe this thing with more rigour.

German George Simmel could have advised today's fashionistas e.g. Posh Spice and P Diddy how they would wear Prada, but inevitably at some point tire to set up their own individualistic line.

Fashion is about becoming part of a social network, and then ultimately abandoning the group to lead a new one.

Much like most things in the arts, sciences and free love, it was the 60s when the frenzy to rival today's Social Networks took off - albeit behind university and corporate walls.

But you could argue social networks are as old society and politics. You only need to pop inside a museum to see that from the paintings of the Aborigines and words of Socrates or Hobbes.

Social Network Thinker
Thomas Hobbes' ideas, like many emerging thinkers of the 17th century feed straight into Social Networks.

Europe needed a way of settling disputes without drawing swords and Hobbes' perception of the Intelligent Commonwealth - was a social network of the highest order, er, ruled by a sovereign.

But one of the important point in Hobbes was the notion that we the people should give up private self-interests to get along.

And relinquishing private self interests today (privacy), in which the sovereign has been replaced by technology has never been so acutely discussed.

We are selfish, and protective; you wouldn't give your house away, you rarely, if any offer strangers a lift in your car. We're generous and giving, we react to disaster reliefs. We've always been networked.

When our ideals come together, when we're given a route to pursue first a self-interest which then correspondingly coincides with others ideas, the social network gets interesting. Note self interest doesn't have to be selfish.

Social Network theorists discovered it was better to have a wider pool of loosely connected people, than a smaller tighter group of friends to make a difference - something President Obama showed in his campaign.

So long as we can keep reinventing technology to meet our dreams: "Oh look an app to show how I can teleport my thoughts", a network, with no surface recourse to financial gain will subscribe. Uncontested bartering is the ongoing currency.

But we also know from history how cyclical the politics of networks are and already as I'll discuss some other time, we're beginning to witness fissures in these leviathans.

The above is an extract from a talk David is giving to a fortune 100 company

Sunday, November 15, 2009

In the future

A future of news. Some imteresting, some seemingly far fetched, but it would be a brave person to suggest pigs won't fly by 2020

Future communications and journalism

In the 1700s the government of the day laxed the laws on newspapers and the pamphleteers had a field day. The scenario is not so unfamiliar to today, except it's different institutions attempting control.

Talking at SXSW in January, I told a warm and generous audience who showed up to my 10.00 Saturday presentation that the rules of videojournalism, the nature of comms was still being rewritten.

It stands to reason really; we're in the pamphleteer era. New scions are making their mark, many are yet to. There will be chaos and upheaval until it gradually settles, but then it never will.

There are some standards: we like stories; we need commerce, but the currencies are changing. Stories are being devised in an assortment of ways. videojournalism neither exclusively news, nor docs is laying down its marker, whilst the oldest system of trade is gaining pace.

Bartering. Money will suffice. Murdoch wants it to, but it won't always be the method of exchange, we know that much. Stallman probably had no idea what all this would come to

A video magazine
When I built my site in 2004 I had a number of strong views; some have materialised as common themes: embedding video within a page, whilst others are yet to crystallise.

Apologies I'm not trying to be clever. But perhaps to illustrate how easy it was for traditionalists to be dismissive of ideas, when you did not have the tools or skill set to produce them. The rest is trend extrapolation.

A similarly trend extrapolated is video hyperlinking; embedded scanable links from XML driven TV, which can be stored, accessed etc. Deep drilling in video and accessing more of what we like, will get more interesting. If you're a TV show not carrying perma links, you will. TV always learns the hard way, from the newer media.

TV show making and its second shift aesthetic will be overhauled.

I've looked to congeal the years of radio, TV and print and ask what if? Firstly through a scientific methodology around my training as an Applied Chemist, then journalism and now through social sciences at SMARTlab and the Arts.

Fact is we're still in the dark ages of the web. History tells us that. Broadband speeds are still poor, despite our ambitions. Fathom what will happen at unlimited downloads- no constrains - actually 100mb first please.

Future Design
Think how the language of html to hxtml, will be ceded by xml. Design seven years on will have embraced a new renaissance, based around open spaces and mobile devices.

I mentioned that full blown video across the page would be the norm sometime ago. That didn't go down to well with some, but they were honourable not to throw eggs.

Next week I'll be sharing my views on the future of comms in a keynote with UK CEOs. I still subscribe to the comments on Apple's profile site that any attempt at predicting the future is a mug's game. But we can guestimate some intelligent trajectories.

I've amassed a number of interviews from key players to whom I grateful and will with some dispassion and academic rigour deconstruct those.

Content Analysis is producing some interesting ideas. There are also obvious holes in what we can plug e.g. our misuse at present of journalism grads and the methodologies for pushing forward online - finance evaluation.

The latter is a legacy of the dotcom boom when PE ratios meant nothing. Today, assets and liabilities still don't square up in modern nomenclature. Nine years on you'd think MBAs would have cracked it.

Meanwhile we continue to constrain a new system into an aging one. We do that for obvious job security reasons and the notion that it's better to modify, rather than entirely rebuild Rome. Furthermore how can you create what you're not completely sure of.

In some respect that's when art comes in. Whilst innovation without functionality is meaningless, this fluid period we see ourselves in combines artistic practice with a technology bent towards conceiving any number of ideas. Entrepreneurial indeed says Jeff Jarvis.

You begin to think we need to also reinvent a whole new vocabulary - it's happening. Our thoughts might turn to new modes of knowledge creation for a new generation - that's happening too.

And as we plough ahead, it's also worth looking back, farther back to contextualise. The past may not have all the answers we seek, but we deny its impact at our peril.

Those pamphleteers, some started to publish books, Defoe became one of the most celebrated journalists, many others went to the wall. We're not so different after all, but for sure it's not exactly the same.

David Dunkley Gyimah, academic, video journalist and artist in residence publishes next year looking at integrated video and videojournalism

Friday, November 13, 2009

Time Magazine's 2009 Best Inventions

Well it's their choice. Some good ones. The Blue Fin story is a much richer one that provided here.

There's a good write-up I picked up in Bloomberg London, inside their magazine.

Interesting segue for me is about this vide- free info. Cheap to make. A few drop ins and the chance to see inside the machine of Times, but should it be free to embed.

Not if you're Murdoch. Yes this isn't one of his.

I still subscribe to Times, nabbed by a free offer which has run over year on year. Truth I'm not a religious devourer of their site's content, so the mag helps at the gym etc.

Anyways some off-topic thought, here's Time's best inventions.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Performance Lecture

A performance lecture from Dr Leslie Hill, Director of studies at our practice-based PhD program

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Scream if you're brilliant

Nay worries. I'm decidedly mute.

I'm in our library, but it's awfully loud in here. I mean screamingly loud. It's in my head.

And when it calmed down and I decided to hit these keys, I thought:

The singular most powerful idea you have is YOU.

Now this sounds atypically oxymoronic. **** you might even think narcissistic, and best of times, stupid.

We spend our times chasing the tornado and each time it eludes us. It has to.

The quick fixes we search for, only fix a short term habit. The long term solutions require more thought, considerations and commitment.

Look, see, consider, share, act.

Ideas to share
The best idea is You because you know what it is that lights your fire. You're just, a bit like me, a bit flummoxed, how to find it. And when you don't know where it is, the best person to help you is the conversationalist.

Society got so ancy about it, they called them Psychiatrist ~ someone who evokes talk.

A room full of people - all with different needs. Some will inevitably leave a conference bitterly disappointed. Those that don't often attend in the first place to hear what it is that makes them think about themselves.

Scenario 2.

A room full of people, with the same aims. I'd just let them talk to each other, and then come to a consensus. Stand-ups do it much better. "Oi you, what's on your mind?"

In presentation, it's not what you've done for yourself, but what the people present, will do for you.

Twittering on
I speak at a fair few dos, and each time I think: "What it is I would like to know, seated in the audience". In shape shifting mode, I begin to wrestle with myself. Damn it hurts.

Tips here, facts there - all good, but the overall tempo has to be one where the presenter is giving, engaging, clarifying, and making You feel that the world will not come tumbling down on you because 0.7 secs ago, you had not been on twitter.

Or that google wave came and went and you missed the set.

Good CEOs and managers, I learned, leverage their strategies by allowing the flow of modules one at a time. And these often take weeks, months, but what they give you upfront is the ability to start thinking about the differences.

OK, stop!

Why does this matter, because frankly, you're not supposed know everything. Unless you're a self appointed polymath.

I bet Steve Jobs can't shoot documentary as well as you. My point explained. If you're a tweet king or queen, great. If your video skills aren't ace, don't beat yourself up, and vice versa.

Lizbeth Goodman, the Dean of our Phd programme refers to it as your plumb line and circle of influence. Your plumb line is fixed. That's the thing YOU do exceptionally well. It's your comfort, no matter what happens you keep coming back to.

I'm obsessed with visualisation and narrative. My mind works in visualisation the same way I think I speak. It's not rocket science, If I have made/cut/produced some (5)000 videos.

Now you see, if I want to go web design mad, codecs n' all - I know a thing or two about them - I'd have to forgo my love affair with film.

Am I bored? Or plain mad.

Your circle of influence says as you grow your knowledge, expand beyond the realms of your comfort, you'll absorb all this new stuff, but your circle of influence, where you can make a change is the core.

And frankly I'm happy with that. It has nothing to do with tunnel vision, narrowness, but that each step that elevates or comes down supplements your core skills or depreciates it.

In a couple of weeks I'm about to shoot a series of films that last 20 seconds inspired by twitter.

You gave me that idea through us talking. Thank you.

You, You, You.

Now that I have got that out of my system, it's time I went home.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Videojournalism's wasted opportunities

If you're looking to be truly inspired scroll down to the end.

This isn't a piece per
se, but observations from a talk I'm set to give to a group of CEOs .

In it I will talk about videojournalism (TV and Online) and the web-journalism movement.

While the web has made significant gains in an alternative and, now often, primary source of news info; we've learned a new nomenclature for writing and linking on the web, you could not universally claim the same for videojournalism.

The overarching criticism with TV news was and still is, in spite of impartiality rules, its heavily mediated. The choice of interviews, visuals and structure is heavily codified. The them versus us.

See for yourself. News simplifies an argument and relies on a small set of people, in its contacts, to inform you.

News by its language and vocabulary discriminates. Its a pros and cons.

Was videojournalism supposed to be an alternative to the status quo? You could be forgiven for thinking so. But what could we argue has videojournalism brought to the information table?

Are we talking background news, breaking news, or active news (news on-the-go)? How does videojournalism qualify its efficacy?

These are important questions and perhaps require a fundamental change in parameters to measure contemporary news' values.

And how do we do that?

And consider this? When we extricate ourselves from the oft-discussed discourse about cheap TV, what is videojournalism's usp?

I could name a few, but we're missing something, a big something.

Videojournalism is versatile tool, but its content quotient and driving force must depend on not just visual skills, but an in depth understanding at knowledge and content creation, made accessible by access to good content and its sources.

If not we relegate videojournalism to a second rate medium. It's there when you have no alternative or decide to run your station purely with features. Videojournalism's specialism calls on much more and in many ways needs re branding.

In the 80s Lucozade was a drink to repair the damage of illnesses e.g. common flu. A decade on it rebranded to a fluid to replenish the strength of athletes. Videojournalism-on-the-web's contribution needs an upgrade.

Thus far it's become synonymous with cheap. It's practitioners will understand that the quality of the pen comes from the sustenance of the journalist.

Great commentators aren't made by giving them a newspaper to write for, but a tenacity to engage with knowledge and rework the issues we face now in various context of their antecedents.

There are a great many individual videojournalists, but the form is yet to attain the status it deserves.

The soloist in the orchestra marks his position and relationship with the audience from years of toiling in the bigger band.

This does not mean we should discriminate as television did with its hierarchy, but be more self aware of how we intend to use our new found abilities.


posts script.

I came across this story as a RT @alexgamela 7 of the Most Inspiring Videos on the Web

This is not a solo videojournalism piece, but still undertaken by a small team. It is the ability of videojournalism to usurp the agenda and find rich stories like this, which I teared up to with joy, that makes videojournalism or should I say DVCam storytelling worth its weight. More bravo.

Belief conquers old. Boxing lessons Briton's Haye vs Russian giant Nikolay Valuev

David recalls the experience of mind over matter as one of the film makers of the heavyweight champion of the world, lennox lewis.

On an afternoon in the hotel, having just completed a morning shoot, ringside. My friend and exec producer delivered a boxing lesson redolent of life's experience.

I had dared uttered the statement: "If Lennox Lewis wins.....".

Kofi, one of Lenox's right hand men, literally flew of his chair in mild rage

"What do you mean, "if". David, there are no ifs here. You disappoint me".

He had reason to. I had been invited. In fact rephrase that: I had been hired by Lennox Lewis to be one of his documentarists.

If you could see me. I was the cat with the cream.

Many outfits and journalists had requested to be part of the inner sanctum of one of the most anticipated fights in contemporary boxing history: Lennox Lewis vs Mike Tyson, and I had ring side seats.

And now I was about to blow it.

Training days

Over the days watching Lennox train though something happened, I found myself in conversation with a journalist and to my own amazement was chastising him for very comments I had made earlier.

I had turned. No longer an objective bystander, I was now a believer. It was extraordinary. The evangelical belief inside Lewis' camp had an intoxicating affect and I was drunk.

Watching the build up to Haye's vs Nikolay Valuev, I might imagine that Haye was wrapped in his own inexplicable, but explosive, self-belief.

It seemed impossible and if anything there would have been a fair number of people whom I'd imagine would have wanted the Russian to shut him up.

But yes he did it. And the event brought back that sense of purposeful belief I came across during Lennox's fight.

Before the big fight Lennox takes a cat nap. He is a figure of serenity. And then with minutes to spare he walks through his tactic: jab, jab, punch.

The biggest stage was set for an explosive fight, but in many ways the fight had already been won in the head of Lewis' camp. The mind conquers all. A lesson we could all learn, a lesson that Haye punched home yesterday.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

videojournalism 2017

In this photo: Richard Vagg, Rachel Royce, Julia Caeser, Sacha van Straten, Marcel Theroux, Sacha Van Straten, David Dunkley Gyimah (photos | remove tag), Sally Greenwood, Seltzer Cole, Stephen Lee, Trish Adudu, Dan Stanton, Oni Battacharya, Paul Lewis, Amera Ziganii Rao, Rachel Ellison, Dan Roland, Tim 'The Beast' Woolgar, Steve Punter (photos), Kate Ashley, Richard Griffiths, Jonathan Frisbee
Pic courtesy of Rav Vadgama, himself a former videojournalist ( not in the picture) now a producer on GMTV.

Class of 1994 - UK's first Videojournalists.

In 2017, the Net landscape has flattened.

Broadband speeds average 500mb. HTML has been re-engineered. The ability to become your own netcaster is as easy as going to the supermarket.

And therein is the issue.

If there's a growing swell of video on the Net stations now, imagine what it'll be like in just under ten years time.

Madness comes to mind. Incomprehension, is another thought.

Will the primacies of the BBCs and ABCs still hold court? Will a white label of the BBC's I-player yield ever more hopefuls into a market teaming with talent?

Who can you trust?

In the last two weeks I have received five emails from potential global-wide TV Net stations, with their brand of videojournalism, looking to be crowned the "BBC" of the net.

Why BBC? Because it still sets a standard albeit aided by an increasing contentious funding model.

Will it be present in 2017 is any one's guess. But history has been here before. The Academy de Baux ruled the art world until the turn of the last century, when the Victorian videojournalists - the impressionists of Manet, Monet and Cezanne - stepped forward.

The rest has become the stuff of tireless studies.

By 2017 with any luck a generation should understand film like a vernacular akin to their mother tongue. You can't teach someone to speak their language, they learn it on the go.

Where they require a leg-up is in the structure of language and that has started now and will continue to enrich the medium.

We can't even be sure whether videojournalism will be usurped by the new new thing.

But trust and values will count for more.

Collisions at the South Bank
In January I have invited a figure head to our gathering at the South Bank who underlines the epitome of Trust.

He's well known on the screen. He has a Doctorate in the medium. He has shot many many docs. He has written many books that are studied. And, and he continues to make films, pushing at new edges. These are also guilt edge values.

I have much to learn from him in creating a fresh understanding that moves me further beyond what I believe I already know in my 25 years of a career and I'm damned excited.

In 2017 we will measure standards of knowledge by the the giants whose shoulders provided us the elevation or to Producers who know how to cook the elements together to nourish us.

In 2017 there will be many many more supermarkets and shop stalls set up proclaiming videojournalism or whatever it'll be called as the gold standard. Learn from us, and we'll guarantee you a job, some will say.

Already there is a move to set up a trade mark for endorsement, just as you might see ACE after a film makers name. How it'll work is any one's guess.

But part of the joy and to some frustration is that after a training session, every ones a videojournalist expert. Why not? If you're providing a service that others dearly need.

And so long as you can preach and practice the mantra that videojournalism is not a one-size -fits- all.

In 2017 when xml is probably ceded by a new language, what might determine how we invest in stories?

Storytelling par excellence
Character and Story construct will still rule. Some things will never change as the tablets of Gilgamesh show. Heroes and Villain's, Ups and downs.

I'm watching the Formula 1 story of Jensen Button as I write this. And if there's another thing the BBC does exceptionally well it is sports stories: a combination of accelerated cinema and arching narrative.

Button was the lone figure in F1 racing, and almost has been, destined for a last chance drive with an outfit who were not sure they could make the cut. On his penultimate race he was crowned the world champion. Magic!

Now time to tell the story - a skilled director who understands long format and how to cut into reels of tape with interviews and directed shots. It is not easy, but the best pull it off with ease.

In 2017 how many more of these will we, I, see?

I hope a lot, but it's not to be taken for granted. 2017 may produce a common new lingua franca for visual essays, but equally we'll need to be assiduous and mindful of pushing on the form now.

Will you ask what visual journalism will do for you or what you will do for it. The latter begs a bit more than proclamations of being the future of the form.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The DVcam blockbuster film marketed by you

By now you would have heard the hype, but the back story of a movie compared to its earlier pioneers: Blair Witch, El Mariachi, Night of the living Death is equally riveting.

It's a film just about any film buff could make. For it contains no high explosives, gore or special effects that would dent your pocket.

For 10,000 dollars this years juggernaut rolling Paranormal Activity will make millionaires out of its distributors, producers and hopefully its 39 year old former video games designer called Oren Peli.

The journey of the film goes way back. It's origins deep in Blair Witch itself circa 1999. But recently it took off from a frightening screening, which itself has become part of the marketing strategy and the film's trailer.

Not bad for a film with a three-person crew, two actors paid 500 dollars each ( I trust they negotiated a share of profits) and a seven day shoot, which was then edited on a home PC.

Reported in the Times newspaper, the film was sent to Spielberg, who promptly sent it back convinced it was jinxing activities in his own home. This, yes, is said to be a true story.

However Spielberg became a fan.

What makes the film work is a combination of good old fashion film making reminiscent of Hollywood classic e.g. the Exorcist, Matilda, Hammer horror.

The emotiveness of film and suspense that Hitchcock knew so well, but its also a child of our time, with the shimmer cuts and floating camera angles.

But by far the best ploy is how fans can demand the picture be shown in their own city, by going to the website. That's a stroke of genius, which other producers are watching with baited breath to see if they can replicate for their own offerings.

Watch out sadly for the hordes of films to follow, but this is a film whose life has only just begun and will be the source of many articles and film studies.

It could have been made by anyone, but walking the talk is a far different act and DV film makers have a lot to be thankful for to Mr Peli.

This could be the start of something good, or even terrifying for that matter

Draft work

Marshall McLuhan who needs referencing far more times than he is credited never tried to predict the future. At the time, he thought it irked people. No, unlike those trying to predict the future, or examine the past, he was engaged in the most difficult task of all, the present.

Big hint to the news industry new cash cow trying to predict the future of journalism.

That's not to discredit futurologists. Where would we be without Star Trek (circa 1960s) and its Holodeck?  I saw its near equivalent at the Shanghai's expo in 2010.

And Vannevar Bush is one of the US' greatest engineering minds, and his seminal 1945 piece, As We May Think, stands as a monument for future thinking. He envisioned a giant collective interconnecting mind calling it Memex. Today we know it as the Internet.

It took the Net two more decades, if you use consider ARPANET its starting point, or even four if Berners-Lee's works as year Zero.

But either way, a technology existed, just like millions others now, but something had to catalyse it. Professor Brian Winston refers to this phenomenon as a supervening necessity. Put simply, society requires a need for the technology for it to come alive.

What made Twitter work?  Google and Facebook?  In the Social Network (2010) and allowing for some creative license, Zuckerberg's character Jesse Eisenberg has a Newtonian moment.

It is a supervening necessity - people want to share. That they want to share pics about those who are 'hot' is what the film industry has traded on with scopophilia since Florence Lawrence.

Which is as good enough a segue into the core of this piece. We love to watch.

 A couple of months ago Charley, from the US reached out to me. I'm a Geek-Art-Journo-Borg (GAJB). Chemistry Maths grad who went in journalism and believes the arts is the key to unlocking human potential. So I get the odd  "hello release". Not PR, but an email that says whadyathinkathis?

Things like the gyrating 360 degree cameras or Danfung Dennis' amazing Condition One which transforms the experience of watching linear cinema.  If you know anything about Abel Gance's 1922 Napolean which used Triptych, this builds on that.

Charley sent me something and with a touch of dramaturgy, which I too relay on for effect, said, please don't show anyone, but have a look and tell us what you think?

Oh my good lord, I uttered. OK you've got my attention, so what next?

It's an App and its called Touchcast.  Video embeds in video. Tweet feeds sit on your video, but the tweet feed is still active. You move around your blog feed, pull up a picture from Pinterest.

Your limitations are your imagination.  The label game changer does not do it justice. In the way social scientists are taught your opinion doesn't count, neither does mine. But in the background of Touchcast are some media industry behemoths and they very much like what they see.

Then the group said they were on the way to the UK. Charley and I had one of those, "we've-never met-before-but-we-share-the-same-interest" longish conversations.

How's Tuesday looking? Duhh! I'm in Denmark working with some of the coolest photographers on planet earth.  I use "cool" a lot, not as a result of vocabulary deficiency, but because cool is a cool word.

I might have had my fair share of thrills, but I still get excited sharing the stage with Bombay Flying Club @BombayFC or US Videojournalist Darren Durlach @DarrenDurlach and the good folk that is Videoplayground, Soren, Martin et al.

Ok I can't make the meeting, but I'm going to put you in touch with the Global head of... here's where we go Chatham House Rules.... because it would't be fair ton my contact.

Peter, not his real name, got back in 5 mins and set up a meeting. From the feedback,  it sounds like Touchcast have found another big friend, because sometime in that meeting, that thing we sometimes do apparently happened. Execs look on half interested, either checking emails or cricket scores, and then someone mutters that "wow". Then others look up, cock their head to one side and also go wow.

And the rest, though it has not come to past, following on from McLuhan, is in the present. Touchcast, and no I'm not their PR, will work because twitter, blogs, video already exist. There is a supervening necessity.

In a couple of weeks, I'm going to train some young journalists in a region that annexes a trouble spot. . I have for a good wanted to know what it would be like, if I could make a 5 minute video that hides hours of content behind it, which with the touch of the button puts you in control.

Speaking at the national press club in Washington DC some years back, I called it hypervideo in deference to Ted Nelson who coined hypertext in the 1960s.

The Economist, picked up on it and since self-flagellating myself with PhD research about video and news media forms, hypervideo has continued to weigh on my mind as I erect makeshift half-functioning things such as  the cube - game theory journalism.

So that's Touchcast. I reckon you'll hear more about it in the coming weeks.

 TouchCasters from edo segal on Vimeo.

So as if unashamedly now pluggin my next move. I received this from the kind people at the BBC some time back, I'm rather hoping, someone else is going to invite me back.

Dear David, 
We are currently organising BBC Worldwide’s annual Leadership Conference in October which is aimed at the top 150 senior leaders across the company.
We would like to invite you to speak at a session focusing on ‘Creativity and Innovation:  Creating the Winning Idea’ which currently has speakers including Innocent; Ten Alps and Bebo.  
With your fantastic experience in both old and new media and your insights into next generation TV both in the UK and US, you would be a valuable addition to the panel. 
About the Leadership GroupOur Leadership Group consists of around 150 of our senior staff from across our seven business areas: Global TV Sales, Global Channels, Content  & Production, Magazines, Digital Media, Home Entertainment and Children’s. They are a lively and talented group of people who would greatly enjoy the opportunity to hear you speak and we very much hope that you will find the event interesting too. 
Kind regards,xxxxxxxx| 

Head of Internal and Change Communications

David Dunkley Gyimah is a senior lecturer at the University of Westminster completing his PhD in video and journalism. He's a previous recipient of the Knight Batten Awards for Innovation in Journalism and International Videojournalism Awards. He is an artist in residence at the Southbank Centre and has worked in the media for 25 years for the likes of Channel 4News, ABC News (South Africa) and Newsnight. You can find out more from his site  and Apple Profile.

END  +++++++

The debates can get insular at times. You know them well.

" Hey Jane how, was TRO? I couldn't attempt the other future TV gathering, but the one before that, New News united was ok".

At some point you begin to get the impression we're all chasing the same rush. Yes we are and attending the same conferences.

"Not you again, I'd thought I'd see you here".

Some conferences have been fantastic. Others a lazy way of racking in cash. Yes so long as "Social Network" is in the title, we're all flock to find Jason's golden fleece.

Conference fatigue
The ones I have really liked, amusing more like it, were those in which a manager five months earlier was seated in the audience writing profusely, only to see them on the stand now as the expert.

Isn't commerce and capitalism great? That shouldn't denigrate the process and acquisition of knowledge from the genuine brain stormers, who bring many things to the table, even if it isn't the core idea.

Paxman may not be a tweeter and positively eschews all this hubadub, but you'd want him at your party. Nice brain, nice brain!

And less we forget we were all young once - I mean in mind - not to know the answers.

And I confessedly would be guilty of pulling the odd "I know what I was last summer"; I think we all have, walking into a conference.

But I have often maintained that the debates around journalism can get quite insular.

So to my point.

Collide or shrivel
Jude Kelly the artistic director the South Bank hosts an event next year called Collisions. It's a brilliant idea, but one which if you could replicate would set on fire the ideas about the ideas.

Poets, journalists, campaigners, artists, philosophers, musicians, dancers, travellers - all of whom have demonstrated over the years an understanding of their own environments and collided with wonderful effects on other disciplines.

There's no hierarchy, just a landscape fuelled by ideas about public bodies, their betterment, ideas around film - each collision yielding another idea, which might be done there on the spot.

And I'm looking forward as one of the attendees of documenting it through an online site and various assets. I'll share more about this and even how you might be able to contribute.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Collision - ideas that happen

For a fortnight in the new year, South Banks artists in residence will be involved in an event called Collision.

Simply, it is an amazing concept, not unlike my PhD interdisciplinary programme, but different in that the talent have been picked to contribute to this giant brain-of-an-event.

If I could ever formulate a new filming technique then it would be that week.

I mention in because we're starting the pre-planning at the South Bank and I can't wait.

Meanwhile I'm closer to debunking and refining my own thoughts of video storytelling and long format writing, through videojournalism and design.

Some of that is finding itself onto where I'm redesigning and streamlining the content, almost in a curatorial fashion. I'm hoping to present some ideas to South bank in a couple of weeks, particularly the Z principle and Jacque Ranciere's influence.

Research Plan
Part of my research involves some key figures across Europe and I'm glad to say they have agreed to be part of the data research.

I'll be adopting an interpretive and constructivist epistemology, so if you'd like to be involved and you're from Australia, Asia, the US or anywhere, please drop me a line and we'll have a chat.

At heart it's about producing a methodology of pedagogical value (hopefully)