Holy moly, the boss listens

So the boss actually listens. (See comment #6 in yesterday’s post.) Talk about speed of light, I pointed out my missive whilst on a trip in Wales and he responded stepping off a plane from Geneva. I’m typing this in my hotel room in Hay-on-Wye, where my mobile doesn’t work but where high speed internet is no problem.

Dank u Sinterklaasje

Now that I’ve secured my early Sinterklaas-present, what am I gonna do with it? In the discussion last night at Reuters I raised some concern about quality of video, audio and composition. Some BBC buff (okay Paul Brannan) argued that it wasn’t really that important since the advantage of being able to report right now and right here outweighs those concerns.

Besides, he remarked, it’s not just us (journalists) who will be interviewing people and reporting the news with this amazing MJT, but also the consumers. It’s the User Generated Content, stupid!

Yeah sure, but especially because of that I still believe that we have to stay committed to the highest possible standards. And that means getting the facts right, duh, but also getting the delivery right. If you type it up, Reuters at the core, you make sure you don’t lose yourself in typos or grammatical errors.

If you tape it, and this video is to be published on the web, you make sure that it doesn’t resemble your mom’s brave attempt to record baby’s first steps. At least get that shot right, think of the light and don’t forget the audio. Speed is of the essence, but my question remains: At what price?

Leave your estimates in the comments below.

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4 Responses to “Holy moly, the boss listens”

  1. Paul Brannan Says:

    Hi Tim,
    You’re setting me up as a straw man here.
    I’m not advocating a flight from quality or a lowering of standards, I’m merely accepting that technology is changing the nature of newsgathering.
    Some of the first video we received of the 2004 tsunami came from holidaymakers’ camcorders. When Concorde crashed in flames outside Paris in 2004 the footage was far from perfect but it ran on TV stations around the world. When the Buncefield oil depot went up in flames the first pictures and video came from the audience. The same was true of the Cutty Sark fire at Greenwich. The only images from inside one of the Tube trains bombed on 7/7 came from a passenger not a news “professional”. In many cases the quality of the images wasn’t the best but in some cases they were the only images and in others it was their proximity to the event that made them worth using. The ubiquity of phones that can capture video will greatly increase the amount of material that is available to newsgatherers. You’d no more reject it than you’d reject use of one of your own interviews because the interviewee spoke less than grammatically perfect English or Dutch. I’d far rather watch video in the best quality that can be obtained but the David Lean school of cinematography isn’t appropriate for daily journalism. You carry to a 30lb backpack on assignments to do a job that was previously done by three or four people. In your jack-of-all-trades role you’ve already accepted a compromise on quality. Maybe mobile footage is a compromise too far, but while you’re setting up your tripod, getting the light balance sorted, worrying about sound issues and figuring out best angles maybe you’ve missed the moment – and the story. Biros have compromised handwriting compared to the golden age of fountain pen caligraphy but we all use them. Get over it and get weaving with that N95! A much more interesting issue around this topic is that of privacy, where does it start and end in a world where potentially everyone is a paparazzo?

  2. overdiek Says:

    353 wise words, Paul, and I agree with every single one of them. I will get over it eventually, but I will stick to my main point as well: The highest possible standards, and even though I know it is not possible, I do try to produce tv pieces that are just as good as when I would have worked with a crew. Sometimes it works, sometimes I fail miserably. It’s all about raising the bar (for yourself), not lowering it.

  3. One small step for man… « Multimedia Maniac Says:

    […] it? Now give your opinion, also based on Paul’s comment in Tuesday’s post on this topic. He really looks ahead, and almost makes me admit I am wrong. Almost, of […]

  4. Josephabr Says:

    nice work, bro

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