Sunday, July 24, 2005

Rosenblum VS the Photog Nation

Michael Rosenblum is out to change the way TV news is procured, processed and ultimately viewed - and he's pissing alot of people off in the process. Exhibit A: The astounding amount of bandwidth being consumed by a raging debate over principles and practices. With WKRN the first in the nation to pursue an all-VJ newsroom, the crustier halves of seasoned camera crews are understandably up in arms, (and sore shoudlers). What Rosenblum sees as the natural evolution of technology and TV strikes the average lensmen as rubbish, if not outright heresy. Rosenblum himself has launched head-first into the fray, arguing his points to a legion of threatened skeptics. Consider his latest:

In conventional television news, the reporter is the star of the piece. If you think about the grammar, the audience is kind of looking through a keyhole, 'priviledged' to see a conversation between Katie Couric and the hostage's mother...or whatever. We have made television into a purely voyeuristic experience, and in doing so distance the audience from the immediacy and power it should impart. When we work in the VJ model, I try to get the VJs to think of themselves as surrogates for the audience. Shoot where your eye takes you naturally. Follow your instincts in asking questions of following stories. Make the audience feel as though they are there, in the moment. I personally think it is a much more compelling and egaging way to do journalism than to have some reporter do a stand up and then shoot the side of someone's head as they answer questions.

As I said a long time ago, this is about alot more than small cameras. This is about developing a new style for television journalism. I am not sure what it will be, but I am sure that it is more than ready for a change. The real dynamic will come when more and more photogs like you guys pick up the cameras and start to play with the format and the approach. You know what you are doing, but there are lots more ways to do this. And no one is more qualified that you to try.

Look, you can spend the rest of your lives repeating what you already know how to do quite well. But I think we can all agree that TV news sucks. For lots of reasons. Story selection, content, length of pieces, name it. You are in a unique position to help and drive a change.

Much of what Rosenblum preaches rings true. I've practiced many of those concepts for years, as an off-air and on-air one-man-band. But whereas my finished product emulates that of a two-person crew, Rosenblum seeks to forge his own brand of downsized auteurism. I'm listening, but I ain't sold yet. I'm all for street-level journalism, but take away the power and precision of my heavy glass and I get more than a little antsy. You would too, had you slung the damn thing all over the place as long as I have.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Everything Rosenblum says sounds great. Video from an XL or GL can look great. And doubling the number of crews makes sense -- he talks about freedom to fail, but what about just being able to work a beat?

But I don't trust managment to make that idea anything other than a move to save a few bucks and turn us all into one man bands.