Mini and Maxi

ABC News has seen the light. Mini-bureaus are all the rage, and according to this article in The Hollywood Reporter the American broadcaster is going all out in a minimalist way in the following cities: Seoul, Rio de Janeiro, Dubai, New Delhi and Mumbai, Jakarta and Nairobi. All power to them, I say.

abcnews.jpg

Apparently ABC accountants did the math. The brand new seven digital bureaus cost about as much as the full-featured Paris bureau did when it was open. I saw an old fashioned ABC News delegation at work here in London when I did my multi media piece on the Slide at Tate Modern.

There was a reporter, a camera man, a second camera person, a producer and an assistant. They were hard at work co-ordinating and delegating what I was doing by myself. I’m sure their report was much slicker and more creative than what I produced.

But how much per minute air time did their impressive team operation cost?

At least they were kind enough to look after my bag (containing the NOS London Bureau) when I went down the slide with the small camera tight between the knees. That’s who I could use every now and then: A bag minder. Anybody?

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4 Responses to “Mini and Maxi”

  1. Mark Deuze Says:

    hey Tim – indeed, small bureaus are the trend, and you surely set a great example of what the possibilities are.

    but…

    beyond creative potential, this obviously is also a cost-cutting measure by media companies eager to use technology to cut back on labor.

    I do understand that motive – but does it go hand in hand with support and investment in your development? in a managerial and organizational commitment to the work you do? in a wholehearted embrace of these new technologies and the people who creatively use them (such as yourself) as a way to improve the quality of reporting?

    this for example by starting to retrain existing staff, by equipping available talent with these technologies and allowing them to experiment, to give you and people like you significant status within the organization…?

    Sorry for appearing to be a buzzkill – believe me, I’m a big fan!

    cheers, Mark.

  2. overdiek Says:

    Good points. Nowadays, any editor-in-chief is probably listening more to his accountant one floor down than to his chiefs on the news floor, who want more and more and more.
    These developments lead to more for less. There is a journalistic argument to be made. Seven faraway places don’t disappear from the map. Au contraire.
    And apparently ABC News picks, in their words, the youngest and brightest to work from the backpack. They are the new frontier, and will lead by example.
    Sure, there might be a gap between old and new. But you don’t consolidate the new by retraining the oldies. I think the transition will be fuzzy but at some point someone will get up and realize: Ghee, it works. (Hopefully not the accountant.)

  3. Mark Deuze Says:

    yes, okay, but… “the youngest and brightest” in a workforce share two interesting characteristics:
    – they cost less;
    – they are least likely to protest (or collectively organize against) precarious, uncertain or exploitative working conditions.

    so how do we keep the innovative and creative energy that these “youngest and brightest” generate or are supposed to represent, get management AND editorial on board, and create a culture of engagement with technology that supports the journalism rather than the bottom line?

    you know, just asking 🙂

    by the way, about bag minding: how about a Leiden intern?

  4. overdiek Says:

    I was young and bright once too. And didn’t make a lot of money. That’s part of the territory. Always been that way.

    I believe this young generation will make bigger jumps toward management than you might think. They are the ones who establish the new force.

    And yes, there always is the bottom line-factor. More than once I suspect being the naive victim of a sneeky cost cutting-operation.

    As a foreign correspondent for public broadcasting I am aware that we are spending tax euros. Decreasing amounts, as you know.

    Finally, as a matter of fact, I am in touch with a young and bright Leiden student who might intern for me next Spring.

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