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.