Thursday, March 24, 2016

Poetic Logic : Creativity beyond the rational

Scary story! You’ve been working for an outfit for some 15 years — even as a regular freelancer, you had some inkling of the next pay cheque.
I did stints at the BBC, WTN, Channel One and the rest and then one day at Channel 4 News the dreaded knife struck. A dozen of us were let go.
If it has happened to you yet it’ll come in some guise. For new grads coming onto the market, it’s equally scary as they send off cv after cv — been there too.
For mid-careerists, at some point you’re either elect to go alone having built up a cadre of contacts or take that leap into the unknown.
Army personnel speak about their life inside the forces, compared to outside, civvy street where a simple trip of going to the grocery is alien. Even Presidents talk about the loss of trappings and attention. I’ve been neither, but I can’t think the feeling is any different.
So what do you do?
I read endless self-help books — course you do. Anything that works and audited my own experiences and then fundamentally made the web and new associates my friend; networks became my partners, and my transferable skills an unlikely hidden gem.
Today, as a university lecturer, who still practices his craft, my passion has been to pass it on. Invariably this pathway can be traditional, but there exists a poetic logic — an unwritten manner at creativity beyond the rational in pursuing a goal, which can make your work stand out.
The term derives from the work of the great Russian filmmaker Andrey Tarkovsky. Poetic logic from a poetic conscious attempts to create a unique and aesthetic course to complement your identity. You are the artist — and the job can be anything.
I have learned over the years there is no one size-fits all, because cultures, societies, different races create different meanings. My job, I have come to learn is to inspire; to open up new learning practices; to pass on cognitive skills e.g.reading human behaviour consuming media; to acknowledge fears and concerns as necessary, and understand why and what’s happening.
My deepest desires is to channel what I have learned, to utilise my experience as a professional, an artist in residence at the South Bank Centre, a researcher imbuing my complex identity like most of us ( I’m a Black Briton, with a German grandmother) to forge a path that rewards emotionally (emotional intelligence) and financially.

If that sounds reasonable, I’d love to be involved in what you’re doing, to cross paths, to as, Jude Kelly the Artistic Director of the South Bank says: “to collide”.
What’s the point, after all of acquiring all of this if you don’t intend to engage.
Please contact me here and here @viewmagazine

Dr. David Dunkley Gyimah
University of Westminster

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

PR is journalism with a conscious to not strive towards objectivity

Perhaps, an illustration of PR from the early 1900s illustrate its strategic approach and difference to journalism.

Up until 1929, smoking for women was considered immoral. Psychoanalysts equated the cigarette to the penis and male dominance. Cigarette barons though were desperate to have women as a new market. They hired press agent turned father of PR Edward Bernays who recognised if he could find an irrational/subconscious emotion that played to women’s desires, he could reach them en masse.
Bernays hired debutantes to conceal cigarettes on the Easter Sunday Parade in New York (1929) and on his cue, they would light up. He informed the press and ensued the photos which had that studium (taken well to provide his impact) gained maximum coverage. His message to the press was women were smoking torches of freedom. Freedom and liberty were a general, as well as women’s movement post-war.Cigarette sales soared.
Press-Pr-Marketing often operate as a single entity in commercial enterprises. They’re in the business of selling the explicit and subconscious e.g fears, desires. A headline and photo that works unconsciously (at first) on our irrational fears/desires is what’s needed to drive this human construct we call ‘news’. In the instagram age, paradoxically and often to us innocuously, our images and words are continuously being scrubbed for how they might provide secondary-to-primary meaning. Commerce eh! 
Read what Bernays did to Bacon and the standard breakfast here

The juggernaut of presentations: the SXSW experience in Austin Texas

I’m doing SXSW.
To the couple of media people around me in London, when I heard the news, I might as well have spoken Klingon.
That’s #SXSW people — the super bowl of pressies and social gatherings. I’m still getting flashbacks today watching live on TV Marcus Allen’s 74-yard touch down at Super Bowl XVIII.
Seriously! SXSW’s gravitas is so A-game, they can call on a @Potus to drop in.
My talk, having passed the public vote would coincide with the start of an academic itch. A big itch. A PhD. I’d been a self-camera shooting journalist for some 15 years, a journo for 20 and it was now so patently obvious as a practitioner that news as a construct and journalism as practised by TV Networks was the equivalent of Nipper the dog earwigging an antique gramophone.
You know, His Masters Voice, abbreviated as HMV, in which the Masters were TV suits inured and sated by spin and corporate agendas.
It wasn’t always the case. At the time of SXSW, I was reading Michael Thomas Conway’s, Ph.D. which by coincidence Conway is a prof at The University of Texas at Austin — yep home of SXSW.
His account of the history of CBS is truly fascinating. Those pioneers, in there 20s and 30s, such as 33-year-old Henry Cassirer really tried to do something revolutionary. Conway cites a Cassier report in Journalism Quarterly in 1949 “A Challenge to Imaginative Journalists.” That section reads.
It will not be true television unless it uses most of the facilities available at the television station, adapting each one to the best way of reporting the individual story. (Film, for instance, is best to report a parade, graphic work is more adequate to visualize a tax debate in Congress, and remote cameras are most 420 effective to convey the colorful scene of a convention. Maps can tell battle movements better than words, but late reports from an overseas conference are most suitably and speedily summarized by the commentator himself, speaking to his audience “on camera.) — Henry Cassirer Journalism Quarterly 392
They got McLuhan’s the medium and the message, so much so, that today whilst digiratis beat their chest about discovering data journalism, visual journalism and the likes, the CBS young turks had it covered way back.
Conway then says something that grabs me. One day at an editorial meeting, an executive showed up and the journos sensed something was up. The suit was dictating editorial coverage. American broadcasting business folk had twigged that News was a money maker, a big one. The ethos of a journalism holding the powerful to account within the political economy and framework of journalism was about to be laid to rest in favour of, you guessed, business interests. Raise a glass to Edward Bernays, the father of PR.
Cut to almost seventy years later and the the lack of diverse stories on television, or the networks’ refusal to show a plus size commercial on the spurious grounds of nudity, when executives believe they’ll lose contracts from clients who promote size zero beauty above an alternative, shows the power of the greenback in story telling. Alternatively, what about this, the head of CBS Les Moonves defending Donald Trump’s excessive news coverage.
It may not be good for America, but it is damn good for CBS … The money’s rolling in and this is fun. I’ve never seen anything like this, and this is going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.

10 O’clock on a Saturday morning, I know where I’d like to be I tell attendant’s — in bed, so I’m grateful for those who’ve showed up. Over 45 minutes I map out a different form of newsgathering construct, which incorporates multimedia and an integrated form of videojournalism.

The talk revolves around the use of embed video and sharing, using SEO to reframe millennial journalism; alternative outlets e.g. micro sites to publicise work (four years earlier I’d won one of the US most coveted prizes for innovation in journalism,the Knight Batten); the Outernet which is not too dissimilar to the Internet of Things; and how videojournalism spawns new forms of reportage. These strategies and more were developed with the videojournalist, lone worker, in mind and those wanting their voice heard above the chemtrails.
By some accounts, the talk goes reasonably well. Here’s a sample of that:
Freelance writer Amanda Hirsch, former editorial director of PBS Interactive wrote she was concerned the style I was promoting left little room for finding the story and that…
when I posed this question to him, he got a tad defensive, assuring me that he always listened first, and that he emphasized to his students how listening is key.
Tony, a delegate blogged: ( I’m clearly gushing now !)
Excellent presentation A+. Great presenter. David shared tips and was humorous. This is what SXSW is about. Great job David!
And I even managed to interview a few people after the talk.

 The rest of SXSW was as an exhilarating experience of social banter, an exploration of ideas and ambition. I made new contacts. The comedy/ agent of wit trouble-making Baratunde Thurston (left) whom I met up with in London on his tour of his New York Times bestseller How To Be Black. He’s now at the Daily Show. Have to say thanks too to CC Chapman who supplied me with the majority of these photos.

So, yes that was seven years ago. SEVEN YEARS… a life time… but SXSW represents a kind of ground zero for sharing and since then, a number of things have happened that give rise to reflection.
  1. Yes I could now put Dr at the front of my name, but I live in trepidation of that moment on board a plane when the pilot asks if there’s a doctor on board. Yes you in seat 21.
  2. Video has experienced a boon.
  3. Television, in spite of the social media onslaught is still the most popular medium through continual reinvention and still retains what UK TV expert Simon Albury calls ‘Groupthink’ — ideas being made by insiders.
  4. We’re largely chasing the same tools and skills, with more or less the same narrative structures, making us less diverse and distinct. This calls for a revolution at a more fundamental point in our quest for media literacy — a philosophical one.
Such seeds for creativity lay in the stories of the CBS and what I found in my research, a similar more contemporary story on Innovation called The Thirty.

Also consider this statement from Marshall McLuhan
If men were able to be convinced that art is precise advanced knowledge of how to cope with the psychic and social consequences of the next technology, would they become artists? Or would they begin a careful translation of new art forms into social navigational charts? I am curious to know what would happen if art were suddenly seen for what it is, namely, exact information of how to arrange one’s psyche in order to anticipate the next blow from our own extended faculties.
 Marshall McLuhan (Understanding Media)
What do you think?
We rarely talk about artists in media, referring instead to the age of the Tech, blogger, social media etc. but Artists and exemplary ones at that are the weather vanes of a vision of the future.
They defy listicles and simplistic framing. They find ways to connect the inner self with the external world and rarely are taken seriously within the present.
The level of experimenting, of looking for individualism, of innovating within innovation is set to repeat a cycle in history — the 1900s. What I spoke about at SXSW in Integrated Multimedia Videojournalism represented the iceberg of a more potent form, which can simply be understood as Cinema, journalism — a myriad of cinema and it’s one I look forward to multiple sharing

Thanks for dropping by