Thursday, October 11, 2012

News Xchange Media and Videojournalism ideas that make the modern world

Delivering a Keynote in Norway
Every broadcaster wants to know about the future. Everybody wants to know about the future.  Yet often the future is something they won't countenance, until it becomes untenable.

"Breaking News: Can TV Journalism Survive the Social Media Revolution?" presented by the BBC's Lyse Doucet for the annual Huw Wheldon Lecture is yet another example of confirmation.

Doucet spoke about her resistance to Social Media until the Iran 2010 demonstrations. Then the collective of the people illustrated a wisdom of crowds. This is what it would have been like in the 1930s had not the intelligentsia ruled the teleporting of vision should be controlled. 

And even then BBC considered it such a low art compared to the spoken word.

From the moment I wanted to become a journalist in 1987 balancing my Chemistry degree with shifts at BBC radio, the ambivalence or skepticism to anything new has been a feature hard to ignore.

And "new" back in the 80s meant personnel as much as technology. When three years later I travelled to report from Apartheid South Africa, having had stints on Newsnight and BBC reportage, my uher became my recorder and edit bay. 

Using the BBC's studios in Johannesburg was out of the question. Adapting was something I learned quickly in order to make a living.

Embracing technology for me was a given. In the last twenty years I have yet to meet a broadcast executive who in 1996 didn't sniff at this thing called the web, or in 2000 think editing on your mac was a prepubescent activity, or in the ensuing years pour cold water on somehing called MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.

The general thinking is that technology has been the driver for the new dawn in hyper-communications, but that misses a huge point: the needs of the broadcaster comes first before techno-fetishism.

A broadcaster or publisher will simply not lay out millions of pounds on a piece of technology and its development when that means a depletion in its bottom line. They are a business first and foremost.

There's no such thing as an altruistic broadcaster or publisher.

In 1995  when some of the UK's most powerful publishers merged their interest into the British Media Industry Group, they did so aware that projections for the newspapers business did not look healthy and like all businesses the imperative, where possible, was to diversify.

Few, if any of them if they were candid, would claim to know 1995's future up to 2000 as this video I present as an anchor at Channel One shows.

But they were aware through the availability of cable, because that's what primarily defined multimedia in the 1990s, that there was leverage to be gained in the lucrative field of television advertising.

The 2000 Media Jump

By 2000 scores of management and executive meetings, with overheads and PowerPoint's needed to be run, often back to back.

Those who weren't prepared to shift a bit to the new quadrant, even though by netizens' standards these were small moves
, left their employ.

Then publishers and broadcasters did something remarkable. Instead of nurturing talent within, many opted to buy in talent from tech companies and the silicon valleys. 

Actually that's not the remarkable bit. 

What was, is that to do this they acknowledged a degree of dead space in their companies and the hit they could take financially and in resources before getting up to speed. Any company trying something new has to build in a contingency that absorbs inactivity by default.
TV and publishers have always circulated their own talent. This time they went fishing outside and when they succeeded, their confidence was such you would have thought they invented new media.

It wouldn't be the first time. Some people think Ed Murrow invented television news. New research by Mike Conway in The Origins of Television News in America begs big time to differ.

For that reason then I'm grateful to some of the big hitters in broadcasting for setting the record straight when it comes to videojournalism in the UK. As the figure who brought videojournalism to the BBC Pat Loughry states: "Channel One TV was ten years before its time". 

Channel One TV was the videojournalism station I joined in 1994 having previously worked for BBC Newsnight and reported from South Africa.

The videojournalism I knew was equally not palatable as the future for broadcasters and publishers. 
In a couple of weeks however I'm on the road mapping out the future of the media and the future which I glimpse will again make for some bum shuffling.

Media Futures Research

That's not to say that I know specifics in which app will do what, but if we mine from the themes of Jean- Froncois Lyotard, Jacques Rancieres, Leonard Shlain Nicholas Mirzoeff and others, a picture emerges, though its not necessarily explicitly. 

The general theme is, we are becoming more image conscious rather than worshiping the alter of the text. Shlain provides a convincing argument to this that spans centuries. It's the reason why less writing ( twitter) and greater images ( Pinterest) currently work.

Appearing in Time Square

It's the reason why Tokyo, Times Square and Picadilly Square London, look like perpetual landscaped Christmas trees. Postmodernism, not to be sneered at, tells us we lead fragmented, disjunctive  lives. You like your job, then don't like it; you have many friends, but not real friends.  

All this was known before Facebook, which is why Facebook would work. Anything that connects us that gives us a sense and belonging requires attachment. Social didn't just happen, it was a brew stewing for a while.

Right then if you're so smart asks the absolutist, how come you're not making a mint. LOL I'm working on it, but yes it is the technologists, the builders, who are in vogue. Journalism provides other intrinsic values.

If you want to become rich become a banker.

But remember how in 2006 I spoke about all that acres of broadband space, what will broadcasters do? Well they're doing that, only just now.

But what about the next generation of broadband? This is what the Chinese created when I had the opportunity of visiting their expo. The Internet would support holograms, such as this child and mother speaking to grand ma and dad - projected as figures.

or what about this Outernet site profiled on Apple's site in 2006, which every town will have one day, which will let you dump compressed files onto your phone to be watch on your HD at home. 

Or that a bluetooth device which will one day make telephones redundant. In fact by allowing access to its echo feature you can hear anyone who is mentioning your name. Geopositioning will tell you where. 

Remember the shiny emblem Kirk and his team tap and then speak into?

The reason being that along the horizon exists the next big web volcano - the shake up of learning, knowledge and education.

The signs are there, the logic is simple - all the institutions are diversifying, as they should. Pearson publishers, who I present to in a couple of weeks, have their own degree course and there's more.

The structures that so suited the traditional learning environment are being turned around. In a couple of weeks, I'm addressing journalists in Denmark, Unesco in Cairo and I might, might just be speaking about the future at News Xchange.

And its the learning environment that will present the next, did-not-see-it-coming for broadcasters. Question is will they see it?

Because from the "now", history tells us at some point there's also an anti - a shift that cuts against the grain - which is another reason why it's difficult to nail trending and for the benefit of the broadcasters countenance what lay ahead in the future.

David Dunkley Gyimah is a senior lecturer at the University of Westminster. In his broadcast career he worked for Channel 4 News and Newsnight. He is a Knight Batten Winner for Innovation in Journalism.