Is your MD short sighted and digitally illiterate?

The two postings on my blog that have generated the most traffic over the last week or so have been a short piece I wrote about the problems newspaper video people are having with audio and a comment I made about a Press Gazette article about the photogs at the Croydon Advertiser creating image/audio slideshows.

I’ve just finished a session with some newspaper journos on using video, and audio was flagged as one of the biggest problems they had in getting good content out there. I’ll return to that in a later post, as I think it’s one of those things that is rising to the top of the issues list as we shake out the issues around newspaper video.

In a chat with the delegates before the training started I was asking, as I always do, about the feeling towards video at their papers. The usual mix of attitudes appeared, so I wasn’t surprised when one delegate talked about the complete lack of involvement from photographers. In fact, the snappers had point blank refused to be involved.

But it got me thinking about the Croydon Advertiser post because, if you are a uk newspaper outfit making the move in to multimedia then you need to get photographers on board. Perhaps slideshows are a great first step in broadening involvement at your paper.

It also gives me a chance to give a great comment on the post from Mark Comerford, about the reasons why more UK papers aren’t going off site to experiment with multimedia, a wider airing than comments allow.

I believe that the main reason for not going off-site is fear.
Fear that the MD won’t like it and will cause shit. Fear the company libel policy will not protect off-site content (different laws in the states). Fear that there could be copyright issues.
Fear that the central IT people will feel snubbed (which they very often deserve to be) and make no effort to help when things go wrong – and they will say “well, its the off-site stuff thats the problem” no matter what.

He is right to point out libel policy etc and much as I’m loathed to malign technical people – unsung heroes as some of them are – newspaper IT does seem to breed them stubborn. But when he talks about fear he’s just as spot on.

There is something to fear. Short sighted and digitally illiterate MDs allied to a tier of middle management that sees the digitalization process eroding their power-bases are possibly the single biggest problem in implementing the necessary transition from analogue to digital. Digitalization is a process that is at least as much (in fact much more I believe) a mental as a technical transition.

4 Replies to “Is your MD short sighted and digitally illiterate?”

  1. It is really frightening, Andy to see how ill-prepared some newspaper are.
    The typical newspaper newsroom traditionally has been undercapitalized and stuffed with crummy old computers.

    These are the qeustions I ask news executives.

    Is your IT department under editorial control? Why not?

    Has you boss ever blogged?, or hand-coded anything in HTML?

    Have they ever posted a photo on Flickr, mixed multi-track audio or edited news video?

    Does it feel like your paper’s IT department has turned off the most vital parts of the internet and are filtering your access as digital reporters and editors?

    How are you going to transform into multi-platform news operationsd if you are a journalist working in a newsroom that can’t even use the internet as well as your readers and users can at their home?

  2. Is it just the MD that is short sighted? It strikes me that any working photographer who is not at least looking at learning how to shoot video is going to shortly be out of a job.

    Very early on, I chatted to my guys on the desk and we agreed that the best people to shoot visual images were those who have an eye for composition. that said. Certainly at my paper and at this time the video will be done by us.
    Reporters MUST be able to concentrate on getting the story, asking insightfull questions and chasing leads / witnesses at an incident. The imaging guy needs to focus on gathering, well, images! it is a 2 handed job. I’m not sure how we can gather news as a one man band, certainly hard news will be very tricky.

    I was chatting about video to one of my collegues, a sucessfull freelance snapper for the nationals. NEVER. he said. when they pay me for all the work involved then I will shoot vid.
    I don’t know what he said when everybody started wanting digital pics wired that day.

    I will miss shooting stills, like i initially missed shooting on 35mm film. But, we evolve or die.

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