Sunday, March 20, 2011

WebVideojournalists defining a future trail

Capturing the zeitgeist
In 2002 or thereabouts Futurure Publishing behind one of the most successful creative magazine's Computer Arts launched a magazine around video. 

 It lasted about 6 issues before it folded. I was so taken  I rang and spoke to its editor who lamented  the economics of it were unsustainable.

There are other specialists mags around today e.g. VideoMaker, but online is where you can get really excited. For videojournalism there are several blogs and mags offering a wealth of info; I started to mark them up and realised I'd be here all day.

The latest and an emerging behemoth from within the UK capturing the zeitgeist is the videojournalismweb blog: Online Videojournalism blog put together by eight Masters students from City University.

Its range of profiles and studied material across the breadth of video is a welcome addition to the genre. I hope they managed t sustain it after their degree.

Last week I was interviewed by one of their contributors Will Teddy - for what turned out to be a two hour chat, though admittedly a good percentage of that was me on subject.  Mention video and I'm off.

Will I learnt has a good knowledge of French film's - part of his grad degree  -which affords him the added heuristics to deconstruct film language from a nation that redefined European film in the 60s.

And since film language imbricates videojournalism of sorts, that's good knowledge.

Will's question's covered how much the web has changed videojournalism, what it is and where it's going. My response broadly took up the philosophy of videojournalism and a constructivist/ intepretism approach to story telling.

That means, given the term videojournalism cannot be approached as a metanarrative,  that is a grand theory which covers everything (Really!)  its difficult to be understood via orthodoxies.

It is part of the reason your notion of videojournalism might be fundamentally different from others.

On I wrote some time back:

"Videojournalism is an advance on television news production - a shift away from the predictable approach television has stuck to doggedly since its inception".

This definition is fairly easy to comprehend and as videojournalism matures, it'll require deeper definitions

Take storytelling, simple to some, but a messy practice to truly master. I mean to the point that it taps into the psyche. But when we do tell stories, they're invariably linear and uniperspectival.  The news you watch about Libya comes from a correspondent. And why not. The correspondent may consider all sides, if they can access those, and give a considered view. Two things are at issue here.

First you get a a view reduced to simplify the story; it's a craft, but the pre-editing of data could leave you seriously questioning the reporter if you know what they knew. Second, the idea of realism of the story takes a hit.

Realism today is sculptured with respect to dominant parties - at least on television. It's as if Coubert, the founding father of modern realism has been erased from history, though yes we are influenced by the filming of ordinary folk.

But take the story of the Libyan crisis, we see UN governments, Libya's political apparatus, Gaddafi, but little of how people e.g. Libya's are living, or the views of the French whose government has taken the lead

We accept these limitations because that's the way we do things; they are problematised indeed. Tradition and convention are powerful shapers of how we are fixed to systems that mean we blithely unknowingly refuse to question any other way of doing what it is we do.

The only time we tend to see other methods it's because technology e.g. Twitter,  and or new social values smack against the old order or that sometimes methods adopted for one system are transfered to another. Ford Motor Car's system of divisional work which Hollywood adopted with the formation of specialists, adopted by broadcast networks. A system transferred to another.

The 3min or whatever report adopted from television is so (linear et al), because, why that's the way it is - at least by western influences. When I was in Chongqing I had a great discussion with a Chinese scholar who spoke to me about multi perspective Eastern art. Many stories in one plane staring right at you.

In other words, in Chinese art it's not uncommon to have multiple perspectives, rather than one - which is the Cartesian model here - which fits with the idea of single perspectives in photography, art and video.

A prevailing question at the moment suggests videojournalism is actually bankrupt of ideas. That's not to say all the noticeable films you see online aren't by universal standards great, but that the notion that videojournalism, as a mode of news film teleology would end up reworking news practices hasn't really happened.

There are many questions still to be asked, and those answers lie in a multiplicity of disciplines e.g.
experiential learning from our own individual journeys, and of course the work of new researchers and writers.