And now… the ‘news’….

News you can use……
We have lived in the Soviet Union of television journalism for so long that we have actually come to believe that the ‘controlled’ system is ‘better’ than a messy system where anyone can produce anything they like.

What about the ‘rules’ of journalism?

Just as medieval monarchs and Popes pronounced ‘truth’ from on high, or ex cathedra, so today does television news give us it’s ‘truth’ and the rest of us, 99.99999999% of the population, are supposed to ‘receive’ it, and be thankful that Stone Philips and Brian Williams are busy, selflessly grinding away for us.


Free presses are messy. They are supposed to be. We want them to be messy.

For more than 50 years, the technology of video making or television has been so complex and expensive that it was a power of expression that lay in the hands of only a very few (and very rich) people. The pure em spectrum physics of moving pictures and sound through air and space into your home meant that there would only be a very few channels. This combination of expensive and complex technology for creation of content and equally expensive and complex technology for transmission meant that video and TV would be in a very few hands.

So we got used to the idea that Matt and Katie and a few others would decide upon and control what we saw…. and as a result talked about or thought about things… and the rest of us would take up the job of passive watchers.

Because there was no alternative, we created a set of rules for things like ‘balance’ and ‘journalism’, as well as creating an elite corps of ‘journalists’ who would ‘deliver the news’ to us nightly.

It was OK, because these were people you could ‘trust’.

That they began to make 7 figure salaries was OK with us because, after all, they had an important job – they were the ‘oracles of truth’ nightly, and they were ‘people you could trust’.

There were so few of ‘them’ that they became household names. They became intimately tied to the ‘journalism’, so that it became, The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, or World News Tonight With Peter Jennings.

Note: We don’t call it The New York Times With Tom Friedman.

Now that millions of cameras are out in millions of hands, there is a fear that the ‘quality’ of the ‘journalism’ in television news will be somehow diluted.

The elites are worried. And so they should be. Their pornographic paychecks are all in real jeopardy, ….and with good reason. Because here’s a secret they would like to keep from you: anyone can do this. Anyone! The ugly little truth is that it isn’t all that hard to do this.

Pick up a camera, point it at something, push the button.

We are all far more video literate than we think we are. After all, we’ve all spent the past 50 years looking at the stuff every day – for hours! We know what it is supposed to look like. So go make it! Trust me, it isn’t brain surgery.

Will the world be ‘awash’ in video? Jeez, I hope so.

It needs it.

Consider this: there must be 1,000,000 Iraqis with video cameras. Their country is falling apart in front of them daily. Over the past four years, you would think that at least a few of them would have directed their cameras at the tragedy before them. At least a few. When US soldiers burst into your house at 3 am, or your Shia neighbors blew up the local mosque. Something. Sometime.

In all the US coverage of Iraq, how many minutes of Iraqi produced video have you ever seen?


And it’s not just from Iraqis! Go to Youtube and Google Iraq. You will get thousands and thousands of videos from US soldiers who are taking video cameras into battle with them. Most of them make music videos out of the stuff, but the images can be riveting.

How much of their work have seen on television news in four years?

Would ‘none’ be a good number?

So while real soldiers who are getting their asses blown off document their real lives; and while real people how are having their friends and families blown up in front of them on a daily basis document their real lives, we prefer to fly in a few ‘famous journalists’, who don’t speak the language, don’t know the history, don’t know the culture, don’t know squat in fact about what they are talking about – and we call this ‘journalism’.

How then, will we handle the coming tidal wave of video and ‘truth’ that is about to hit us?

We have had this situation for years.

We call it a free press, and its the world of print that we have lived with for several hundred years.

Anyone with a pencil is free to write whatever they want, and publish it.

We encourage it.

But we have also matured as a culture.

We have developed internal mechanisms to filter out the worthwhile from the crap and the lies.

When we turn on a TV news show, because we have lived in the Soviet Union of Television, we expect that everything we see is ‘the truth’.

When we walk into a supermarket and see a newspaper headline screaming “Bat Child Found in Cave”, we don’t think, “oh my God, another bat child!”, and we don’t decry the ‘dangers’ of anyone being able to publish whatever they want.

We just buy the tomatoes and leave.


8 responses to “And now… the ‘news’….

  1. That’s a wide brush you’re using.

    You equate any kind of youtube submission as being “truth”. Me thinks you need to refine your thoughts. Address apples to apples.

    I agree with you that broadcast news coverage is lacking. It will improve. Whether it’s on the web or over the air. How that material is produced is where we might differ depending upon the circumstances and subject matter to be covered. Those nuances add obstacles to your hopes that VJ skills can do it all.

    The problem for most VJs is to get noticed. Just putting it on youtube doesn’t cut it. Any business knows you can’t sell a product without advertizing it. That takes money. VJs are still at the hobby stage. The moment they get the chance, they drop the need to be VJs to join better organized, better funded projects. None stay VJs for very long.

    Currently VJs are more akin to Bat Child Found In Cave. The proof is it’s getting ignored for what it is. The quality isn’t there to get return viewers or money to make the VJ effort worthwhile to anyone. Someday? Maybe? But the production levels have to be equal or better than other efforts. Otherwise they get the respect they deserve. None.

  2. ahhhh, the !mposter has returned.

    where ya’ been?

    in a cave?

  3. Mini-Me is back and his comments equate to being of little importance since he’s here to argue that we are wrong and he is right.

    Of course, Solo VJ’s like Claudio Van Plata are hacks for working with a SONY A1U and a laptop and being broadcast by CBC and CNN doesn’t count as quality Solo Video Journalism.

    As my colleague David Dunkley Gyimah has stated for people like you Mini-Me who choose to deny the inevitable, Change or Don’t Change – it’s your choice.

    Ever heard of Mark Jones, a 20 year veteran news man now working for KRON4 in the Bay Area? He has been quoted as saying there’s no way he’s going back to ordinary news – the Solo VJ paradigm is so liberating. Hmm.. doesn’t sound like he’s a hack. Doesn’t sound like he does this for a hobby.

    But hey – you’re a professional who knows more than any of us…

    Nothing to see here Mini-Me, move along…

  4. Journalism is different than entertainment. The old model certainly had it’s flaws, but nobody can deny the power and benefit that the American media – journalistic and entertainment – has had on the world. If you look back, there are many positives that have come from the American networks.

    As a journalist, I have found that there are many people in this world…who do not know what they are talking about. Hard to believe, I know. But just because a person breathes – or can shoot and edit – does not mean they will produce valueable content…or content which is true, accurate, fair, or entertaining.

    Journalists who work at networks, should have some level of higher education, which does have value. Journalists are trained to double check facts, to put information in context, to follow the laws of privacy, confidentiality, trespassing, etc… To avoid slander and libel…. To follow codes of ethics….to serve the public….not take bribes…or have conflicts of interest?

    Is Michael saying all of these “journalistic traits” will be, or should become devalued in our society…that they will not matter…that they should be ignored….forgotten?

    What will the future “journalism infrastructure” look like? Will it be based on technology? Or will it be based on human reason?

    Since there will be a proliferation of video content published…will anything and everything be considered journalism?

    Or will the “profession” of journalism be respected? Because for journalists there are actual ethics followed (that is the goal.) For journalists, the truth is sought (that is the goal.) For journalists, balanced reports serve the public… (that is the goal.)

    Once networks and local news give up balanced, fair, truthful, ethical reporting ….the fundamentals of journalism….then they become a target for takeover by the weaker foe.

    If the current networks (or local newscasts) have anything left…they have trust. Once they lose a viewer’s trust…then that will be the end of them. Because there will be a sea of voices…. yet only a few trustworthy voices.

    If and when an internet VJ – or an outlet for VJs – provides the same level of trust, then they will gain audiences.

    But those measureable journalistic traits are not automatically granted to anyone who can shoot, edit and publish. Trust needs to be earned. Quality has to be demonstrated. Fairness demonstrated. Balanced, factual reliance needs to be proven time after time.

    There is a technological revolution. That is not debateable. But a journalistic revolution?

    I am trying to look into the future, and see the journalism infrastructure of the future. How will the “journalism infrastructure” look?

    I think there will need to be some semblence of order… based on trust, balance, fairness, ethics, and quality.

    If anyone here can paint a clear picture of a future “journalism infrastructure” I’m all ears.

  5. Eric, you do raise some valuable points. Not all VJ’s content will be worthwhile – as you have pointed out, traits are needed to bring a level of journalistic integrity – but it has been my experience that TV journalism nowadays is mostly about sensationalistic stories – Will Paris Hilton go back to jail or not was the latest on MSNBC tonight…

    But I also see from the flip side that there may be award winning VJ’s who through the very nature of kinesthetic learning, will pick up the profession and create stories that will move their viewers to think and act.

    If you want an idea of the “Journalism Infrastructure” – go visit and read what David is doing on his side of the pond. The site may not be user friendly, but one you get a hang of how to navigate around, the content is enlightening.

  6. Cliff, you continue to do a lot of seeing, but little or no doing.

    I actually agree with Mr. Rosenblum in many areas. I also create video content which is seen by many. You do not. In fact, you do nothing but take classes and talk. I see ABC, NBC, CBS and others making the transition. A transition you seem to ignore. They are on the web. They are distributing content. Their work is being seen. They are not relying completely on the broadcast signal as their only means of distributing information and video. Why do you seem to think they aren’t there? They are. You are the one who is not. You need to make an effort Cliff.

    The tools for you to join this revolution have been available to you for years yet you are not a part of it. No different than a cheerleader or fan on the sidelines of a football game.

    It seems to me the one who is afraid is the one who can’t or won’t join in the competition. I’m there. You are not.

    Why is that? A question you continue to avoid. Maybe for good reason?

    Mr. Rosenblum is right. Television and journalism needs to be better. It will take fresh minds and fresh methods. But those accomplishments are not achieved by people too afraid to make the effort.

    I encourage you, Cliff, to do something more than make empty claims. The change that is in progress is quickly leaving those with little or no ability behind. I’m on the train. There’s room for you but, as of yet, you are not willing, or maybe able, to compete. You’re losing with every moment you delay in proving your worth.

  7. Who says I’m not joining the competition?

    Is it because I choose to wait and make sure WHAT I post? Seems to me that’s called editing ones material.

    And again – I point out – what do you have to show for supporting your position??? Nothing – no website, no promo material – hardly makes you an authority if you can’t back up what you preach. But maybe you’re too afraid to post your work online for fear of having your material picked apart in a critique. I’m not – I’m just being VERY selective with what I post for the time being as I develop several projects right now. At least I honestly put myself out there – you hide behind your little Mini-Me icon name and fake website.

    Change or Don’t Change – The Solo VJ revolution is happening.

  8. Yes, you are very selective, and if that’s your “best” you will, without a doubt, be having a lot of free time on your hands in the future.

    Go to any market. Just about any TV station. Go to their web sites and see what they produce every day. That’s what I and many others do. Every day. Not once a month.

    I saw your videos. I feel sorry for your personal difficulties but, in staying focused on what we are addressing, that being VJ’s, you are not one. VJ stands for Video Journalists. You are neither and that’s probably where you are confusing yourself. You don’t do journalism. Your still photos, while I’m sure very personal to you, are a perfect example of someone who doesn’t “get it”. It’s about video Cliff. Not still photos. Even then you had no movement on the photos. A simple task to accomplish with any basic editing program.

    The solo VJ revolution, as you and others like to claim, is happening. But you missed out on some basic history in your youth. Just because there is a revolution, doesn’t mean there will be a win by those associated with their revolution.

    How old are you? What responsibilities do you have in life? It is obvious to me you do not support yourself, nor your family, with your VJ efforts. It’s a nice hobby for you Cliff. I hope you enjoy it. Now I’ve got to get back to work. It’s a sixth day for me. Double time and a half and my bosses want something on the air tonight. Again.

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