Sunday, January 20, 2013

The changes to news and videojournalism

Something very interesting is happening in news narrative, very interesting, and it came to me when my head of department made a comment.

Coming from him a dye-in-the-wool BBC type, it got me thinking. It's something I addressed in my talks together with other techniques.

Before I talk about this go and look at this and below the page fold I'll speak about what's happening.

Did you take the test?  If you did it's akin to the following. The BBC and a lot of organisations are using different quality glass for news making, some are embracing the DSLR.

The effect invariably is that the viewer spends so much time looking at the pictures as to ignore what the reporter is saying.

This hyper-reality reportage, a term used by Jean Baudrillard who infamously minimised the gulf war, now requires a fresh approach to story form and its one that has not been sorted out, yet! What d'you think needs doing.

Historians will tell you documentary faced the same problem in particular the venerable Murrow.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Drive, Be Driven or Drown Part 2

Yesterday I talked about provenance and the back story, which made me think about applying it to my own narrative. The mantra was drive, be driven or drown.

Everyone drown's as some point. It comes from pushing beyond your boundaries. Though this is an inherent fear for some. The more you drive, the more you invite the circumstances that put pressure on yourself.


In doing something that scares you, for the last six years I  have been scared witless researching a thesis into  new types of storytelling that synthesises various approaches and I can't wait for it to be finally finished to share.

We communicate via stories, so story and narrative is at the heart of what we do. The thesis
pulls together:
  • Working as a reporter for commercial television, ITV's London Tonight and producing on the BBC
  • Working as a videojournalist starting from 1994, and as a producer and videojournalist for Channel 4 News and filming in France Moby

      •  And online creations such as The Cube, in an attempt to explore the web's unique spatial narrative, as opposed to film's linear sequencing. This, an interview/film on intelligence was with an interview with the former head of the CIA, James Woolsey from Nato's War Games base in Denmark.

      Be Driven
      • Share ideas as collaborative goals. In fashioning this concept for new narratives I could not have done this without the help of others such as:
      1. Richard Sambrook
      2. The makers behind Pimary
      3. Dimitri, head of Raw behind Nat Geos popualar series 'Banged up Abroad'
      4. Tom Kennedy and Brian Storm from Media Storm
      5. Nick Pollard, recently behind the Pollad Inquiry
      6. Deborah Turness, the Editor of ITN News.
      7. In all some 200 people were interviewed which I pared down for a narrative

      • learn what you can from others then carve your own niche. For this elaborate story, I have travelled across 20 continents and territories which include:
      1. China
      2. Cairo - 4 year programme starting in 2007 for your filmmakers and producers
      3. Chicago
      4. Spain
      5. United Kingdom - co-creating the UK's regional newspaper videojournalism programme with the Press Association 
      6. Tunisia

      This sums up one program and as I wind up its work. I can now cast my sights on new ones, which are more visual and film making.

      My own provenance is I was an Applied Chemistry grad who wanted to work in the media, but could never get a job at least via an application scheme because on paper I looked very thin with the right sort of experience. 

      But I always firmly believed in the mantra - drive, be driven or drown

      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

      Tuesday, January 08, 2013

      Drive, be Driven or drown in creative media, film & videojournalism

      Videojournalist David Dunkley Gyimah filming in Egypt behind the scene filming Tahrir Memento

      The stories we hear, the one's that stick with us are narratives about individuals, who possess definable qualities. 

      One of these is what the art world calls provenance -  a back story that provides a deep level of interest.

      A painting found on a rubbish dump is picked up by a fisherman, who gives it to his daughter. 20 years later she comes across it in her loft and has it looked at. Turns out its worth a fortune and Sotherby's expect a bonanza sale which will make the struggling daughter, now a mother, a millionaire many times over.

      It's an interesting story in itself, before provenance kicks in. 20 minutes before the sale, Sotherby's receive a call to halt the sale, a gentrifed family, providing a whole new different back story is claiming the picture was stolen from them 20 years ago

      They have no evidence of the theft, but they can prove it's theirs.  And they will only give the daughter 25% of the sale. The painting is now worth considerably more.

      In all of us lies a back story, but it's knowing how to tap into it, how it can be harnessed and how it serves as a source of intrigue or inspiration, and to whom.

      Where you're from, how you got here and where you're going matter.  Curtis Jackson's story aka 50 Cent I recently watched on MTV, like many rappers, is steeped in provenance, as is one of the world's most famous men's designers, Ozwald Boateng, proving its not exclusive to art.

      The Backstory is...

      David with Ozwald Boateng at the Mayfair Club
      No one starts of famous or well known, unless they're born into privilege. Ozwald Boateng answered the call: Drive, be driven or drown, and has the most fascinating back story.

      From outside tailoring stock, he penetrated the hallowed lines of Saville Row. A Brit, with Ghanaian parents dared to think the impossible taking to designing in his teens. In the 1990s he staged a fashion shoot in Russia, then several fashion shows in Paris before making his way into the Brit psyche. 

      I might know because I have known him for more than 20 years and directed one of his first features back in the days when we would hang out in his Ladbroke Grove home,where he would struggle to fit the stars. 

      Today, Will Smith, Samuel L Jackson, Royalty... there are few stars he has not dressed.

      Creatives driven to the top have provenance and its the back story that provides currency for as many times they might drowns, but come back again.

      Licked by life's fires these individuals scour new peaks on a regular basis.  The higher they go the more rarified the air becomes. Fires can't burn without oxygen. New challenges await them.

      Drive, be driven or drown, should be your mantra for 2013 - if it isn't already and you want your provenance to work.

      Rewind to the beginning of this tale. There is no institutional, common place way of doing things that you frankly want. You, me et al are searching for ourselves somewhere within the text, beats, zoom, and digital movements of someone else that we can make our own.

      But how?

      The answer as a blueprint, though personal stories differ, is: 
      1. Scare yourself to do that thought-thing. The one that's been weighing on your mind.
      2. Share ideas as collaborative goals. BTW collaboration is not a recent Net phenomenon. If you've read Stephen Covey's 1989  international best seller: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I recommend it where he talks about interdependence. 
      3. Learn what you can from wherever you can and then carve your own niche. 

      Provenance and purpose

      A friend starts a new job today. I'm wishing her the very best. Quietly driven, she has provenance and a story to tell which partly inspired this post. It brings me back to:  Drive, be driven or drown.

      This alliteration is life's journey and in finding it in others, it made me self reflect on its application.  A note of caution though, provenance depends on you the recipient deciding its level of interest, not me the teller believing in its sense of importance.

      Part 2 continues here