Friday, August 10, 2012

Learning to becoming the best there is journalism, art and videojournalism

Frontpage of Viewmagazine on Cinema Journalism

Have you ever wondered, which you surely have, how you become a Steven Soderburgh,  Bill Viola or Anderson Cooper/ or Matt Frei - the latter two are considered the best journalists around?

Well you can't.

Not that is if you believe you'll find the solution in a text book.  If you look around the text books of most academic libraries and your discipline, they're replete with books that are essentially "how tos".

These reveal the building blocks to the essential understanding of your chosen professions. On the one hand they are a necessity, on the other they mask a deeper comprehension of the form, because the student is led to believe everything they need to know rests in these books.

Technique in the end, as essential as it is, is no match for the poetics, individualism. Perhaps its thought the student will
  • not be interested in
  • have no time to learn
  • has no relevance for the poetics
The poetics abandons form for mutability, the text no more become a religion as you transcend to a higher plane of understanding. Things are not done because its said so, but because you, having gained wisdom in your profession know the path you take to be flawed or otherwise.

"How to" books have a fundamental purpose in pedagogy. They sell, and sell in the bucket loads, guaranteeing the publisher and author a return. The first more financially, the second more in reputation.

There is another shelf from those who question existing forms, the one you want for your thesis or the article on post-documentary form. They can be popular, but generally, you'll never go near one.

These books capture the interstices between the poetics of the form and a style that cannot be defined unless you read the biography of Soderburgh, Violla or Frei - that is if they exist.

Yet even then, the substance we want, the jewell of creativity is elusive. It's hidden between growing pains and the ending of a career. This poetic is rarely indulged in the academic journey.

If anything you'll stumble upon it by chance in your career, when one day you tire of speaking in the active voice, with no adjectives, and the absence of parenthesis.

But at a time of new  horizon journalism, more so than now, the need arises to rigorously question the essentials and move onto the poetics.

In some sense you're doing it already in your attempt to find new solutions and understand that which goes beyond the basics; the difficulty is in trying to capture this in a book in a way that isn't as formulaic as the "how to".

If you're interested I invite you to peruse a selection of articles and films I'm producing over at