The Chosen

This just in…..

Television did not appear as a gift from God.

The Lord did not appear before Sarnoff, Paley and Goldensohn in the form of a burning bush and select them to carry His word forth.

No one descended from Sinai with tablets inscribed with the instructions on what television was to be

-Thou shalt have an anchor, preferrably white, male and boring

-Thou shalt have reporters in the fields…

-Thou shalt do sports and weather…

This did not happen. But we act as though it did.

At its invention, television was so complicated, so expensive and so difficult to push through the ether into people’s homes, that truly, it seemed that God Almightly had indeed elected NBC, CBS and ABC to be the deliverers of ‘truth’ to the masses, and hence, their way was the only Way.

This has been going on for so long (since the Creation – the creation of television, that is) that it seems that the way it looks and who gets to make it are indeed indellibly cast in stone.

If you don’t believe it, just turn on your TV set and watch the news. Network or local, cable or broadcast, it does not matter. They all look exactly the same. An anchor at a desk with a box over their shoulder. The pieces all look the same – police tape, stand up, wide shot, talking head, droning narration. Mix em up and reassemble them. All the same. Take a piece from NBC and stick it on CBS. Who could tell?

For nearly 70 years it has been the same boring crap, day after day, year after year with only the most marginal of changes.

And why? Because there was no one else who could or would do this. It was just too expensive to get into the business.

Now, suddenly, all this is changing.

As my old friend Mike Sechrist said when he saw video online, ‘it’s over’. What he meant was that the nice technological stranglehold that broadcasters and cable had was over. And it was… and it is. Now, anyone can make TV.

But who can make TV news? For that, you would need an army of journalists and a group both committed to gathering and reporting the news and passionate about it. You don’t find them in the college dorm room. And you probably don’t find them at your local TV news station – not an army, that’s for sure.

You DO find them at your local newspaper.

And now they can do video. The cameras are cheap, the edits simple. And now they can put their video into every home in the world. For nothing.

As Mike Sechrist would say, ‘it’s over’. At least it’s over for broadcasters. But it’s just the beginning for newspapers who take up the challenge. There’s a rich market out there to be had and the competition is lazy and fat and old and tired and stuck in their ways.

What does video news look like?

No one knows.

But we’re gonna find out.

We’re gonna find out because newspapers like the Star Ledger and others are going to try and try and try again as they fine tune it and really invent it on the fly.

It’s an exciting time for news.

For those who have the courage to take up the challenge and try new things.

For those who suddenly find their ox is being gored… well, they’re going to be unhappy. annoyed. angry. and threatened. (Terry Heaton has a good take on this today).They will throw everything they can at the interlopers. “Get off my territory. Go back where you belong!”

It won’t do them any good.

They already violated the second Commandment – Thou Shalt Make No Graven Images. In light of this, they’re all fired up to violate the seventh ‘Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Wife’ (or in this case, his advertisers).


10 responses to “The Chosen

  1. Is it just me or doesn’t the “anchor” for the Jersey Star web video look like a white male?

    He might even fit the definition of boring too.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

  2. that was very clever…. what about the rest?

  3. “You don’t find them in the college dorm room.”

    I wouldn’t be so sure. Liked the rest, though!

  4. You just don’t get it $ – this is revolutionary!


  5. yes, it’s easy to distinguish him from today’s broadcasters… he’d have a cheesy rug.

  6. I like Brian. He is a REAL New Jersey reporter. He looks and it and he sounds it because it he is it.
    For years I watched Chuck Scarborough anchor local news in NY. I have lived in Manhattan all my life and I have NEVER run into ANYONE who looked or talked like Chuck Scarborough. Never, unless they were some tourist from Minnesota who got lost in midtown.

  7. funnily enough bald (male) newsreaders have long been a fixture of BBC, ITN etc.

    they do all tend to have plenty of teeth though

  8. The news model we have didn’t spring forth fully formed and engraved in rock. It developed over a long time. As technology changes so is the way we do stuff.
    Some things work and some didn’t. We keep what works and ditch what doesn’t. News evolved.
    Michael wants to ignore all the years of evolution and force his own form of intelligent design on us.
    He claims we are the Dodo when in fact he wants to make a Frankenstein composite that is neither fish or fowl.
    What really annoys me is despite all the talk when you get down to it Michaels VJ model is just about doing TV exactly how its always been done but cheaper/nastier with less people.
    It’s not about a new way it’s the same old, badly done with buzzwords.
    Look at the product and honestly show me where it is different/better than what we already have. 10 years of failed VJ and nobody has yet to come up with any examples of anything new at all.

  9. There are decades of examples, by the way, of successful solo video journalism. The solo VJ approach to journalism is not new.

    Video cameras are not new. Journalism is not new. Opinion is not new. Reporters, anchors, photojournalists are nothing new. Humans are not new, nor is human nature.

    What IS new, is technology. And the model of how people get information. Nobody made a “decision” to change broadcast and print media gathering, packaging and dissemination. We (both producers and consumers) are reacting to technological advances.

    Michael was on top of the technological changes and knew from the start the effect it would have. I clipped an article from USA Today 15 years ago… that featured Michael. The headline was, “Hi8 Journalism Focuses on the Future.” (Note it was Hi8 in the title, a reference to technology.) Some of the quotes are quite familiar…. “I’m fanatically committed to changing television. “Michael Rosenblum holds the future of broadcast news in his hand.” “He is leading the change.” etc….

    I read this article long before I knew Michael, clipped it, saved it. A couple years later, I too picked up a Hi8 Camera and shot a solo story with it. Why? Because I realized, as Michael did, that it was a useful tool, and it allowed me to gain access to a place…without the perception that I was a TV News person. It allowed me to get up close and personal and into tricky situations, without difficulty. I stumbled across that USA Today article recently. It shows that Michael has been on top of the “technological” advances and realized that there were new tools available. Then, when the internet grew, along with advances in cameras and editing, MR continued to promote his “fanatic mission” to “change television.” Except today, the availablity of these news gathering tools….has expanded to everyone outside of the traditional news room. That is the major social effect of the evolution in technology.

    It must be emphasized that technology is forcing these changes. Citizens, and web producers are growing. The VJ approach is obviously taking hold. News outlets are wondering how to compete. Why? Because technology has changed, and now viewers must also change their habits. This isn’t a revolution controlled by people. This is a reaction to technology by the public and by current journalists.

    We are all along for the ride. We do not control the ship. We can steer in whichever direction we like. Some are being forced to steer into video storytelling waters which they’ve never sailed in before. Others are experienced sailors in visual journalism. Now, a new ocean…stormy seas for some, and calm waters for others.

    Interesting topic as usual.

  10. eb – excellent comments! 🙂

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