You see, newspapers are dying. With readership diminishing and new consumers flocking to on-line information sources, many in print are having to reconsider age old tactics. (To be fair, we TV geeks are also embroiled in upheaval. Participatory media and the twin tubes of the internets are rewriting the rules for everyone in the game - not just those goobs at the local paper.) At the recent ConvergeSouth conference, I sat in on a gathering of very educated print folk as they almost gnashed each other to pieces over the dire state of their medium. It was like watching a flock of piranha turn on each other for lack of suitable prey. At least that’s how it appeared to this TV simpleton and being such, I kept my own mouth shut. When I was called on, I suggested the crowd forgo the infighting and embrace - gasp! - video. Cue the crickets.
Of course, many newspaper websites have done just that, long before I feebly suggested my own brand of heresy. These days, a simple Google search will uncover countless newspaper sites doing new and exciting things with the moving image. But what exactly this new version of video news will look like is a subject of great debate. Long form analysis, hometown quirk, nat sound operas - you can do as many different things with a video camera as you can a ball point pen. Wisely, many in print are urging their fellow scribes to forge a new medium onto itself: a brand of video storytelling vastly different from the shrill thundering of the nightly newscast. But in rallying their masses, some newspaper people prove once and for all that we in TV hold no patent on myopic arrogance:
"It’s my personal bias of course, but I think newspaper journalists naturally produce better video stories than TV. Newspaper reporters begin with two advantages — no preconceived notions about time limits, and no preconceived notions about hyping up the story — they are more likely to let the story tell itself and edit it for interest, not time."Bold words from an industry hemorrhaging market share. Honestly, I wish them all the luck in the world, for the amalgamation of our two mediums would greatly improve the information stream - and where better to showcase it than on-line? Trouble is, too many in the print realm dismiss local TV efforts as entirely without merit. They gleefully point to the lowest common denominators, the “Killer Dust-Bunnies Hiding Under Your Child’s Bed” series-piece syndrome. Granted, the worst of my lot is guilty of such tripe, but I for one don’t deal in this bottom-feeding and neither do those who share my logo. Print folk would do themselves a huge favor by putting aside their contempt and taking a long hard look at the very best of broadcast news, starting with the NPPA reels readily available on-line. Perhaps TV news isn’t the pristine verbiage currently rotting in my driveway, but neither is it graffiti. Come to grips with that and you just may have a future in moving pictures. Otherwise, I’ll see you at the revolution.
I’ll be the one eating your lunch.