Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Future of Videojournalism

On the video on looking at the future of videojournalism, I show how videojournalism was around in 1994 and how prior that creative film making emerged from such discursive programmes as BBC reportage.

The video contains some rare footage from 1994 of the 30 videojournalists chosen from 3000 candidates and that the explicit meaning of videojournalism has usurped its more implicit capabilities.

The video is the public cut, from the write up from research looking at future storytelling which I'm writing up at present.

In essence as Susan Sontag said of photography, if you take a picture of drawfs, you get dwarfs. Yet Roland Barthes would also draw our attention to hidden meanings that existed in text and pictures, that subconsciously the reader.

The aim as I draw on this extensive research is too strengthen the global training programme that's been used in the UK for the Press Association;  in the US, at the Chicago Sun-Times, China, Egypt...

Below are frames from the short film. You can see more on giving an insight into a different notion of videojournalism.

Click here for insight into major new findings on

What is videojournalism on the web, in multimedia and offline - a major study and film - and why it matters

Friday, May 25, 2012

The humble football and the future of news media

How wondrous is this round thing I thought, as I pondered what I would say to a class of fifteen year olds about the media.

The humble ball fitted the answer.

We can trace this round thing, documented as football, back to the ancient Greeks, though its conceivable Neanderthals kicked around a round object.

But at some point the modern game emerged. It was rowdy, played by peasants and many attempts were made to ban it. Then on the posh plains of English public schools the apocryphal story emerges of a pupil picking up the ball and running with it.

Modern rugby was born, whilst in the US Princeton Uni students started playing a game called "ballown" and with a little influence from Rugby, American football made its presence felt.

Across the world in no particular order you had an assortment of ball games, Australian Rules; Handball with its rules set by the German Max Heiser and friends; Volleyball, and so on.

Now we haven't even got around to this round ball's smaller siblings and how they're played: cricket, Tennis, snooker, I could be here all day.

The point is certain rules defined the way we interacted with a ball. These may have been played by masses, but then they wanted acceptance universally - within something like the Olympics.

The media is this football and news one of the universal games. Everyone knows, or thinks they do, but just as Rugby or American Football was being devised, so fresh iterations from news are emerging.

Now news must not be confused with reality as this diagram below shows. If reality represents that out there that in consciousness we can experience, then news is a construct within that.

Another popular supposedly polar opposite construct is cinema. That too lives in reality yet unlike news is thought of being non-fiction.

What's happening in the world today is these definitions that fixed what we knew are being erroded or to be precise diffused. In effect society is evolving. We want a new game beyond football. In essence that's what Postmodernism and Jean Francois Lyotard's essay is about.

So Logos that in ancient Greek and academia stands for "to tell", or speak, such as in opinions in say blogs and personalised films is also finding itself overlapping amongst classical news to represent something news worthy that I will call something else...

Firstly, a slight detour. Now the classical news construct works like this. The reporter on the right has a story she needs to corroborate or to find. She speaks to the man on the right and writes some notes,

 She then speaks to another man, supposedly with a contradictory view in the hope of achieving balance or objectivity or the same view to reify her point of view.

Then for good measure a third person is interviewed, often an expert who sheds light on the issue from a non-partison point of view.

The construct is completed. How the reporter puts it together is entirely her doing.

She'll probably monitor what others are doing, or publish on the strength the story adheres to a number of features and an Aristolean quality of beginning, middle and end.

So back to that something else...

That thing that now combines what was once news and your logos is "capital". I quite likes this word for two reasons. I came across it being used as slang, and then from a period film used in the context of "good", "wicked", "cool".

But also that Capital as in social capital, monetary capital is something of value and things that have value are often rmemorable, news programmes are not!

So what does this all mean and what has it got to do with football?

That chiefly words by themselves are fixed, but society moves on and in so doing either moves a word on or revises it to something new. Not content with the game of football, all sorts of other games emerged, such as Rugby, but football still exists.

Similarly news will exist but the impact of digital and technology is questioning how we participate, handle or devise new ways for dealing with this classical construct.

But to devise a new something we need to be able to substantially defend it, and that's would take a while here, but that's what I do on  so why not take a peak on

David Dunkley Gyimah has worked in news since 1987 and is a lecturer, artist and award winning content creator and videojournalist completing a doctorate around news.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Asymmetric social media trumps social?

Out with Nato forces in Norwegian seas, various teams are practising how to thwart one of the biggest threats to its forces - an asymmetric attack by a small craft, such as the one above.

An elite super force at the mercy of those who don't play by the rules, asymmetric is a term that also has a great deal of currency in post-media.

Simply put it's the one sided relationship between two bodies and its become a prominent issue in the world of social media.

Where once it was the elite media that controlled the conversation flow, and still do largely, social utilised the one tramway that was truly untaintedly social - the Internet.

Ninety years ago when engineers cracked radio transmission, that too could have gone social, but the capitalists in communications and advertising smelt big dollars; ham radio was the nearest thing to a symmetrical relationship.

But is social today in danger of losing its USP, and reverting to its sibling's capital traits?

There's no denying success stories that have traded on the technological-social use of social, and by that I mean how Face book, Twitter etc have altered communications patterns.

But now we're fast approaching asymmetric flows and what could be called privilege-redundancy. How so? Simple.

Firstly the very products that are being social, unlike Berners Lee's Net are capitalising on our increasing use of their products in an asymmetric way.  That's fair though because, access to Facebook is free. Free that is in terms of monetary value, but not now the new currency which is privacy.

But a more prominent asymmetric relationship has emerged. A new tranche of mediacasters who so understand either how to market themselves or their stories that the relationship they establish is almost as disproportionate at traditional media.

There's some rationale to this. If you're the former technology editor of a large media company, then it's likely you have a rich vein of contacts and stories that will be equally alluring  now as they were with your previous company.

Media companies with a well of stories will always have the advantage, but back to the individual. Competitive advantage means from what was an obscure, confusing piece of software in Facebook, now we all know it.

Facebook now possesses privilege-redundancy. The surprising thing is not that any company or individual isn't using social media, it is that saturation is nearing and strategists have no idea yet how to gain competitive advantage.  The field isn't quite levelled, but..

So the oxymoron is that companies through some darwinian process are ensuring their asymmetric advantage, a number of individuals with strong content  can ensure competitive advantage. Yet for many of us the tools that we all share will soon give us no advantage at all.

So what's next?  Media theorists and philosophers, more used to trying to understand trends than singular entities might are useful studying. The Clay Shirkey's Here comes Everyone, Lev Manovich's Language of New Media, and Henry Jenkin's Convergence Culture all caught behaviour patterns at the right time.

And by looking at the variables

  • less privacy, more social interaction
  • more video literacy
  • Web 3.0
  • search for more competitive advantage
  • The internet will move on from Facebook -it's natural media Darwinism

And the one I have seen, where you can turn on your device to hear your name being mentioned in any part of your world is with investigating. More tomorrow and why it pays to be understand the methodology behind technological critiquing

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Videojournalism stories in digital cinema - Re'P'lay

Four years ago in one of the highest buildings in London in Canary Wharf I was invited to a meeting of some of London's creatives.

There were about 50 of us seated in a circle and the idea, on the day, was to act as a giant think tank.

Chaired by Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre, I had a couple of ideas. The one that got Goldie agreeing was a Sims Olympic 2012. Now that would have been something.

But the one I really wanted to get off the ground was the Outernet and web based stories.

My research bringing together all the major outfits I had worked for, such as BBC Newsnight, Reportage, Channel 4 News and Soho Ad agency Re-active, identified a crack - a contemporary method in story form and presentation.

One of those focuses around Deleuze's Time image, where we come to love stories for how they play with time, though Deleuze's concept is much deeper than this.

I used this to make the short film Tahrir Memento showed at the Sheffield Doc Fest last year.

character wall
We love stories that involve characters and bring us into a film-mind world. In researching how they would work I created this giant map  which exists on my study room wall and acts as my methodology - an approach to storyform

I have decided to go ahead with the project, tieng it in with my Artist in Residence position at The Southbank Centre.

I am calling it Re'P'lay 2012 - a play of words on relay - which features in the games.

A rather unorthodox approach, but the first trailer gives some idea of stories and from there I'll hope to pitch for sponsorship. So if you're a company, exec, individual interested in where art and journalism meet and tell stories that make us lose all sense of time, please drop me a line at

Below are images from the trailer on

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Solo producing stunning web-based stories & online docs

Raquel Villanueva

As with Videojournalism, the turn of 2000 would produce a new crop of digital creatives who were equally at home encoding as they were filming.

Flash couldn't support video, so you had to create the illusion of movement with bitmap images, and when it did you'd be hard pressed to have a control panel.

It's one reason why if you look through some of my sites early work there's no player.

If video wasn't the in-thing before 2000 what was? Simply, text and images and the daddy of the story form was one Matt Owens, who launched his voluminous site called: Volume One.

Matt, from Austin Texas became the icon for many design/video companies, also popularising the Death March - working 16 hours a day.

What is it with Austin Texas, with the likes of Owen, Rodriguez, Slacker generation and SXSW?

Web-based storytelling is now a lucrative field and an integral part of the final project modules I supervise at the University of Westminster, from design, broadcast and agency experience over the last 14 years.

Interestingly, and perhaps somewhat disappointedly its workflow has inherited Television's division of labour, with the producer, researcher, writer and so on. I do away with that.

Yet also it's understandable, given web story form has become the primary job of the designer and encoder as one, and not videoists. That shouldn't have happened.

The television industry's insouciant attitude to all things digital online was the cause. When they sat down to regroup, it was to dust off a 30 year old idea of going HD.

The web would never compete with us now was the thinking, though that's a fallacy for anyone who knows Gilders law.

Web-basing grand stories
But to become a true tour de force, whilst web docs do well for online, the psychology of solo story telling in scale, quite literally, can be lacking.

Filmmakers in Residence - superb
That said, a number of web-based story forms have become indelible, such as the Filmmakers in Residence project, and Soul of Athens - both group projects.

Below are some outstanding pieces from previous Masters students.

First how do you approach web based story?

Online multimedia story form follows a similar logic to database storyform, redolent of computer programming. Though it's based on textual ( print) and video ( TV) codes, it's killer app is online's hyperlinking. So choice and arcs (emotional and narrative) can be inbuilt.

1. Determine what the story is. The more compelling the content, the more you'll be able to use emotional or conflicts arcs to create your jump off spot. Think page-turner of a good book
2. Map the story out, building in contingencies for uncertainties and attempt a linear narrative.
Invariably sub stories will find their way into the story. When that happens go back to point 1.
3. It's all with the front page - the window into your site. Get that right and it's a good start. There's singularly one place online which groups some of the best front pages, designed to sell you that one story. Apple Trailer site
4. There's a very common theme on the site. See if you can spot it. Philosopher Deleuze refers to it as the affective image.
5. Now comes the delineation of the story, which is where personal supervision comes in to determine how and what apps to use to create the maximum impact. In part it involves project management and a willingness from the student to push past their comfort zone.

Here's Six of the best of our Masters

1. Romana's work about cigarettes and its new restrictions was an emotional journey.

A drupal expert, she had to grapple with videos, and a design aesthetic which worked to give the site an aesthetic and themed feel.

I'll remember the debates we had around the sum of individual parts  cohering to provide something bigger. Romana now works for a design company in Germany.

2. Yixiang's site, though it took on a traditional narrative, its excellence was in profiling the Royal College of Music's incredibly talented solo pianists.

Entitled Pianism (it's no longer online) Five experts perform especially for the site.

Yixiang now works for Reuters in Hong Kong specialising in writing about Finance.

3. Karunya's Free Culture and Open Source demonstrates what's possible as narrative without a heavy reliance on video.

Well thought-out and a good resource.

Such was her work ethic and understanding in our SEO profiling that if you google "multimedia journalist" she's usually on the front page.

4. Raquel's Saving Burlesque deconstructs the playfulness of Burlesque, incorporating several narratives.

I recall how a series of exchanges had her nail the front page. Its an Apple Trailer site!

5. Murielle's London Air project method has become her design agency.

She worked hard to get this to work, and when she thought it was all over feedback had her redouble her efforts.

The result is a cinematic grouping of photo-stories explaining London's dire air.

6. Stephy's Echoes of the Mountain examines the plight of a small village in China, which the author claims is indicative of many others.

Breadwinners leave the village to earn a living, leaving their children with elderly citizens.

This is a heart warming and wrenching story. The site's margins are out, since last reviewing it.

David Dunkley Gyimah creates and lectures in online video story forms. He publishes the award winning site which includes projects such as  Collisions at the Southbank which covered a week of creative work between artists. And previewed multimedia forms at the Olympic 2012 pitch gathering. He's currently completing an web story around his four-year videojournalism programme in Cairo.

If you'd like to contact him to talk, etc. you can at

He's looking to re-develop grand multimedia projects on the Outernet. Here for more details.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The future of the present web, video, multimedia lay in the past

Corporate creativity - David in the US, Chicago SunTimes prepping for training session

On the cusp of Facebook's flotation....

It's been billed as a device that will change our media habits: a media app which captures life and gives the illusion of a new reality from which people will flock in their numbers  to participate.

Fancy that, with this app, from just a picture you could give the illusion of movement.

Various names have been devised; the z-trope, k-scope, p-scope and the v-scope and it'll make someone a lot of money.  Of course these are all acronyms, because this wonderment of our age took place more than a 100 years ago.

And despite their genius - all of them were killed off for something that did change the world the cinematographe.

You would have struggled then as you will now to say what the future is as artifacts of innovation often can often provide a stimulus, but the hope of a lasting presence can be elusive.

Web-based documentaries

web-based documentaries at The Family
In 2001 working in London's media-agency hub, Soho just before the first dotcom boom, we developed with Director and Flash a documentary about boxing life that used game theory and no fixed navigation.  It was a time of new convergence.

The Family was runners-up in the UK-wide innovation competition by Channel 4, Unleash the Talent and earned us a monocle from Channel 4's head at the podium stating: "You guys are doing something that would take Bill Gates with a team of people of people to do".

Yet you've probably never heard it. Heavy weight boxing champion Lennox Lewis eventually did and his epoch fight with Tyson invited me to join the team, where we built similar creative bits

Videojournalism on the web as it would look in public

In 2005 after three months of css/html/design encoding and gathering some of the most innovative video friends I could get my hands on from the US, South Africa and the UK I published a website. 

It incorporated what I called cine-videojournalism and multimedia and led to an invitation to speak at the National Press Club in Washington and subsequently a Batten Award.

Stories ranged from: 
  • Rare Bob Marley pics
  • Brix2Bronx - Urban Brits from Brixton looking to go to the Bronx for a reality show
  • The Future of Cinema from hosting a UK Film gathering
  • Music from Ms Amanfour with Jay-z as audience member
  • and Wars and Animation ( as seen below - from some the pages)

This interactive magazine foreshadows the future with its use of hip new story forms and highly video-centric web tools" 
-2005 Batten Advisory judges.

It's more than likely you've never heard of either, though yes video today is commonplace, but that was bound to happen.  

At large, media society's method for forecasting the future particularly online, which has eroded the concept of elite media, involves citing individuals or teams outside traditional agencies.

And heaven knows we could quote a few thousand. 

Mapping out individuals/teams whose pursuit of innovation develops into a theme is one of the keys to be win universality. Remember metacafe, before Youtube; Yahoo before Google!

Discovering less obvious k-apps employs various methodologies, such as trend extrapolation, modeling or scenario building. Otherwise innovation, while spotlighting clever work, can often become hit and miss.

Don't laugh but I once remember being paraded alongside other talent in ES Magazine because someone thought I was about to do something. I was young and impressionable, and it was just another article, you soon learn :)

Understanding innovation out there calls on reverse engineer . Why twitter? Why Facebook? Why this one. That's often easier than punting what may happen, but often the signs are there, but they tend to be complexically wrapped up in the political, cultural and social.

One of the UK's most foremost experts in media Professor Brian Winston charts these phenomenon into a story that goes like this: the technology needs a kick from other factors to surface; otherwise every tech-bit would be successful.

It may be poetic license but in the Facebook movie, Zuckerber's epiphany that men want to see other girls and people want to connect with others cxists in the leavened books of  Shakespeare, and before him too.

The remarkable late Leonard Shlain and McLuhan are just two of a line of experts who see the artist at work, sometimes quite literally.

So somewhere in the suggested break up of the EU and the the fears, anxieties, and pattern shifts being generated is a new big idea waiting to happen. Its solution will be personal, but catch the zeitgeist of  the masses. Individuals coalescing around an idea and by default doing your global marketing.

Some pundits want to predict the future, and they do so successfully once again on the collision of sociological-tech-political factors

Apple quote from Apple site
To predict the future as I said on Apple's profile site is a mug's game, but given gilder's law, I said everyone will become a publisher and you will become the brand. 

Now that's nothing revolutionary except when it was said on Apple's site in 2006 it was easiest the nearest thing to hyperbolic claptrap.

Yet, arguably the experience of work, connected with bedded theories can be a strong indicator of what might likely happen.

McLuhan, the great media theorist loathed the idea of predicting the future. 

"No", he said, "There are a lot of people busy predicting the future. I'll leave them to it, the futurologists and certain sociologists. That's their job, to look at the future.
Historians take care of the past. I'll tackle the really tough one: the present. Let me see if I can predict the present"
And where does that present come from? Your past, your ethnicity, gender, education, cultural values etc.

To talk of web based documentaries and video online then is not for me an illusion of our time, but harks back to a past, firstly to growing up in Ghana - where there were no definable precepts in media.

To working on the BBC's Reportage, which was an extraordinary programme for its time with figres such as  Tyler Brûlé and Radio 4's Hardeep Singh Koli. Reportage in 1992 was forging a video narrative based around current affairs and MTV, and would influence a generation of BBC output - still does.

There have been other milestones
  • Producing the first African co-production between Ghana and South Africa in 1997 using videojournalism. 
  • Launching the Press Associations videojournalism scheme in 2005
  • And completing a four year programme in Cairo in future TV.
Next month I'm looking forward to visiting a number of countries to share knowledge; not as a series of events from the past, which are now just apparitions  not be not to be glorified, nor set on pedestals.

But to share practical work, launching new themes.

One of them is the concept  called the Outernet - a method of production with themed systems within web, video and education and collapsing them all together.