How I’ve come to love Videojournalism

David Dunkley Gyimah left a comment on my post about video illustration that gave me pause for thought (Dave is good at that). He pondered the different directions videojournalism seems to be taking.

It might seem that we’re all at the same bus stop, even if not at same geographical grid – sorry, Matrix moment.

It’s funny, but I’ve always resisted the urge to use the term videojournalism or VJ’s when talking about the kind of video that newspapers do. Not because I don’t think it fits or isn’t relevant. Quite the opposite in fact.

If there is a distinction it is only in terms of the practice. The end product (our buses final stop if you like) is the same.

It was more that, rather than being a defining approach, is was more defined by its disruption of the TV industry.

For me it’s more a case of different buses.

VJ Disruption

Let me try and waffle my way through this by taking news and documentary as an example.

For a long time commissioning in these areas has been predictable, safe and often derivative. New talent and ideas where passed over for the safety and economics of dealing with approved suppliers and super-indies. Time was, that this paradigm couldn’t be shifted because the cost of the technology and production was a barrier to entry.

Then comes technology. It removes that barrier  and encourages a different kind of film making. This was interpreted by many of the traditional broadcasters as ‘cheap’. But people subverted the format, broke the rules. Still, those innovators where hampered by one big barrier, in fact the biggest. The broadcasters controlled the method of distribution. The web changed that.

The web as TV set 

The web offered what even the cable and community channels couldn’t. An almost un-mediated broadcast platform. Having bypassed the technology and the process aspiring filmakers could also bypass the platform. Stories that where marginalized by MSM found a voice. No less journalistic but more radical and appropriate to the audience they recognised because the people producing were the audience.

TVVJ 

Up until recently this legacy has been one of the defining elements of the VJ paradigm for me. Perhaps its best strength and its worse weakness. The web offers the chance to do it differently but some just see it as a surrogate to TV.  As a result that paradigm doesnt shift as fast as it can. It’s a paradigm repair for TV.

People still talk about the day that bandwidth and compression quality will be so good that the picture from your PC is indistinguishable from the TV. Yes please, I’m all for that. But surely it’s got to be something more than that. Otherwise all the broadcasters and super-indies will simply move the output wire from the back of a transmitter to the back of a computer.

That’s something different from the impact video is having on the traditional print industry.  The concept of disruption is the same. But the radical difference in output and process means that is is more revolution than evolution in print.  The pressures the market put on organisation means it’s grown and developed in an alarming (and often unfocused) way.

Luckily people like David are pushing the VJ paradigm beyond its roots. Thinking about it , doing it and recognising that it needs to move forward – perhaps faster than it has done. Pushing for revolution.

For Dave videojournalism  is developing to be the heart of the approach:

For me it looks something like:
VideoJournalism for TV – Same TV language- just made by one person. There’s a great VJ piece made in 1996 by my colleague Mark who interviews all the major UK newspapers.
VideoJournalism DIY ~ papers doing Vjism with no training.
Videojournalism – [gonzo], [invasive], [observational], [creative] (Creative see Scott Rensberger *click image)

and often what I refer to as an IM6VJ approach – integrated multimedia VJ approach, which is more aggressive

You could almost read that as timeline with entries penciled in for the future.

Oncoming traffic

Because of the mono-media legacy we often labour under. It can seem that everything is heading for conflict. Newspaper is disrupting TV trying to get the market share. The web undermining everything the traditional media have known and relied on for years.

So it would be easy to see a similar ‘head on collision’ with the different approaches to video. After all within ‘ newspaper video’ there is enough bun flinging already. But the speed of change has meant that those doing video in traditional print organisations have found themselves, all too quickly, at a similar point to the VJ’s.

The buses are fast approaching each other.  Another crash?

Everybody change!

I don’t think so. Perhaps the buses are heading for each other but maybe to stop so we can get off and all get on the new improved VJ bus.

Year of the rat huh! We live in multi-experience times and the feeling is this year will herald new new things

I hope so.

Leave a Reply