Wednesday, November 28, 2012

You have to be there! - videojournalism

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Where do babies come from mummy?

And so at some point liberal or adventurous parents let their child into the secret. Next time Ben will be at the birth.

Our proclivity to ask questions, followed by the satisfying need to addressing them is human nature.

Journalism, a social construct, came a second best, but if you weren't the curious type, then you could hedge your bets that by the time you completed your J-program, the phrase, "you had to be there" would be drilled into your psyche.

Curious then, that having watched the floods in the UK, and the effects of Hurricane Sandy in the US, the mainstay of the media practised the equivalent of Aftermath journalism. Otherwise we were treated to what ITN's Alan Hart perfected as "Action journalism".

You know it well. It's the scene were the reporter stands facing the storm trying to deliver something pithy and then gets blown away - something for the next edition of candid camera. It looks dramatic, but it is a false drama.

Certainly broadcast journalism can't be accused of being tardy, so why the stark absence from the event?  Why the lack of presence-journalism? Why can't we be given a closer feeling of what it's like?

Because, because, journalism one might argue is not involved in the conveyance of feeling. But that doesn't explain why conflict journalists want to be in the ruck when chaos kicks off, why they do stand in the rain afterwards to say, "here I am". Perhaps conflict journalism as a convention doesn't need tutoring.

Are journalists cowards? No! Are they not adventurous? Certainly not. So why? For traditional journalism it has become a job. At five I clock off. Foreign correspondents know differently. Journalism becomes a calling.

This calling - the photojournalism praxis mixed with the traditional reporter's guile was to be the domain of videojournalism, but it's yet to have staked its claim, leaving this form of richly textured experience alone for literary journalists.

Videojournalism, I'm reminded from a lecture I gave in Germany in 2005 was about getting down and dirty. This was to be one of its rekindled narrative - a sort of quasi-cinema verite.

Today, as floods devastate Britain, many familiies will be coping through the worst of the rising waters and desperate conditions.

We'll find out their conditions when reporters wearing waist-high waterproofs wade through waters delivering pieces to camera tomorrow.

That's not enough! Videojournalism as devised twenty years ago needs to reclaim its ambition. Stories don't stop, videojournalists, like their photojournalist equivalent seldom do.