Newspaper video: Judge not lest ye be judged.

I’ve been out of the loop a few days with another session of video training for journalists so imagine my surprise to come back to a real ding-dong over at Howard Owens place over the issues raised from the judging of online video by the NPPA.

I thought I should post on this as I put my open letter to editors and managers before settling down to read through the debate. Shane Richmond’s comment on the serendipity of RSS feeds mean I wouldn’t want to the post below to be read in the context of the NPPA debate. The post was prompted by the issues that keep cropping up in the training sessions.

I won’t re-hash the debate itself. Go and read Howard’s post and comments, Lenslingers take and then Doug Fisher and Chuck Fadley. You could also sign up to the Newspaper video yahoo group and read the extended (or should that be directors cut) version.

After that I would recommend that you read Howard post where he sets out his stall about newspaper video . It would perhaps save Howard time in repeating himself in some of the comments if more people had and made an effort to understand his position.

Howard is a big fan of the innovators dilemma . In fact quite a lot of people are in newspaper journalism. I can see a lot that makes sense in the approach but, admitting that I’m not intimately familiar with idea, I still have some issues with the nuances of its application. Like I say, that could be me. It works for Howard.

But as I see it, there is nowhere in Howard’s interpretation/application/development of the innovators dilemma where he advocates crap content. In the discussion I had with him, that prompted the my thoughts post, I made the mistake of adding 2 and 2 in that respect and the resulting 5 took up a lot of comment space.

Im not doing a defence of Howard here. I know that Howard is more than capable of defending himself, he doesnt need me. The issue is the debate it’s raised.

The problem ( and that’s a general problem not a problem with Howard’s view) is that the debate can’t keep its boundaries in place. One minute we are talking about the practical process – how we frame shots etc – and the next we are talking revenue models. The discussion drags everyone in to areas they are at best, uncomfortable with and at worst clueless about. Even the people who try and stick to their areas get caught up.Everything goes to shit then.

Newspaper people talk about telling stories, but the video people tell you it’s different in TV. The TV people talk about quality as clean sound, good pictures but the newspaper people talk about quality as good stories. Oh, but wait, say the TV people, we do good quality stories too! And before you know it quality is a battle line not a definition. Suddenley one media does one thing better than any other and the debate is about defending yourself against the medium specific zeleots rather than engaging with in debate with the majority.

Now, I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to confusing the pitch; the recent flurry of posts about audio ‘quality’ proves that. But I wouldn’t presume to tell a newspaper executive how to run a newspaper – and no, that isn’t what that open comment was – and I’m sure a newspaper exec wouldn’t dictate how I shot and edited a TV programme.

And the key here, and where Howard has it right, is that the debate isnt about that.

Leave your egos and your distribution medium at the door and bring your skills and understanding to the table. We are doing something different and we are all learning along the way.

footnote: Just for the record: I don’t think either Howard or Lenslinger are right or wrong. Like Chuck I think they both have a truck load of sensible stuff to say and as the saying goes, I would defend their right to say it 🙂

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