Cameragod writes to us from New Zealand noting:
Ok so tell two men they each have to race dig a road.
One gets a 10 year but still working fine old bulldozer and the other a brand new state of the art ergonomic shovel… the guy with the shovel is not going to win no matter how good a craftsman he is and if you tell him a poor craftsman blames his tools you are likely to end up wearing that shovel.
The construction crew analogy was driven home to me two days ago, when I was interviewed in rapid succession by Ray Snoddy from BBC 2 and then by Mark Lobel for BBC Radio 4.
Now, Ray Snoddy is an old, very well known and respected journalist with The BBC. He’s hosting a show called Newswatch on the beeb, and I’ll take the blurb right from the BBC’s website:
One of the country’s most respected media commentators, Raymond Snoddy has been covering the news industry for a variety of publications for the past 25 years and presents the BBC’s NewsWatch programme.
(You know it’s authentic. Look at how they spell program!)
In any event, when Ray came to interview me, he came along with Andrew, his BBC cameraman and Dave, his BBC producer.
Ray and Andrew (in grey shirt) and Dave and Me
Ray apologized that he was now forced to hold the ‘dog’ or the ‘doogie’ as they call it in Scotland, which is the big furry microphone. No more sound guys, apparently.
In any event, an interview, which will probably at best produce a few 30 second bites (or this being The BBC, a minute at most), took the better part of an hour. We had to all meet up. Ray was on time, but the producer was late. Then we went to the assigned spot, but the cameraman had gone missing. Once we were all in the same place, the interview began. Ray and Dave conferred over the questions. Andrew, the cameraman’s opinion on this was seemingly not important. Shot angles were discussed. But then Ray kept getting the hair of the ‘dog’ in the shot. He was obviously new at this sound thing, but cuts must come where they must.
This is, of course, the ‘old’ way of grabbing a few sound bites. Tried and true. And it certainly works. But upon reading Stephen’s comment above, I cannot help but think of all the road crews you pass where it seems an army of workers are there to dig a single hole. There is, indeed, one guy with a shovel, but plenty of on-scene ‘management’ to get the job done. This seems, if you look at it objectively, a very very expensive way to manufacture a few 30- second sound bites. Expand the model outward to all content creation and you can see why The BBC employs more than 24,000 people. Perhaps they could produce more content with those folks if they were employed in a slightly different manner?
The contrast was driven home to me just a few minutes later, when I was then interviewed for BBC Radio 4 (my favorite, even with The Archers). Journalist Mark Lobel (who normally is a producer for Newsnight, the BBC’s equivalent of Nightline) was doubling for Radio 4. He took out his tape recorder and we headed for a quiet spot.
Where’s the rest of the crew?
Now, in point of fact, BBC Radio 4 interviews were once done by a crew.
But that was a long time ago.
Technology made that a waste of people’s time.
Now, give producer Mark Lobel a small digital video camera instead of his digital audio recorder and what do you have?