Saturday, October 06, 2007

Scorning the Oracle

Michael Rosenblum is alive and well and won’t shut up. These three facts infuriate the photog nation, many of whom would like to stuff this self-proclaimed oracle into one of those gray, pockmarked camera cases and ship him off to Tibet. Maybe then they wouldn’t have to hear him wax enthusiastic about the erosion of their beloved discipline. See, Rosey wants to take the crew out of news crew; he favors equipping individuals with stripped down gear and diminished expectations. Nothing new there - people have been committing television all by their lonesome since the earliest mini-cam threw the first spinal cord out of whack. But lenses shrank over time and the microchip revolutionized news acquisition. Today, any punk with a nose ring and a laptop can crank out the kind of whiz-bang effects I used to have to bribe control room directors to give a go after the show. With that evolution in play, is it any wonder a new breed of newsgatherer rose from the primordial news? No at all. But a rogue insider dressed all in black spouting all kinds of broadcast blasphemy? What is this - a Stephen King novel?

Nah, it’s true - and like a lot of real life, it’s complicated. WKRN, the first affiliate to drinketh from the VeeJay cup hasn’t exactly shattered any scared tablets. Rumors have it they’re even trading in those nifty new consumer-cams for the heavier lenses of traditional TV news. But across the globe, ABC News is working on the one person news bureau, launching seven such operations with lots of gadgets but only one heartbeat involved. That - as I understand it - ain’t a Rosenblum joint, but the initial description of tech-laden correspondents closely mimics his VJ model. Amid all these murky triumphs and ballyhooed disasters, Michael rolls on, popping up in pulpits near and far - whereupon he’s heralded as a new messiah - or just another charlatan pedaling half-baked parables. Who knows how it all went over at the White House Press Photographer’s Conference in D.C. today but he felt comfortable enough after his keynote speech to play grab-ass with friend of the show Jim Long, so I’m guessing no one came at him with any burning pitchforks.

So what do I think? I’m glad you never asked, because the answer will easily provide the two paragraphs I need to round out tonight’s missive. Now, I’m no VJ. What I yam is a local TV news photographer who prefers to work alone. That’s right, I said prefer. Whereas the vast majority of highly talented news shooters are so because they eschew doing much of anything else, I’m something less of a specialist. Instead I focus on shooting, writing and editing said segments of the day, a habit that affords me better story selection than if I were simply ferrying gregarious hair-do’s from victim’s porches to the courthouse steps. My philosophy has raised may an ungroomed eyebrow, but I beseech not the opinions of the average photog. Nor do I wish to trade places with them come dusk, when I’m hitting the singletrack bike path while they shine lights on toothy prom queens downtown. Having said that, a whole newscast of my stuff just wouldn’t fly - not in an industry that’s hammered shiny tassles over the bones of vaudeville for so long that even those old farts in the cheap seats get lost in the gleam.

Did I answer your question? If I did, I wasn’t really listening, so why don’t we review? Rosenblum yammers, the industry hammers and I remain off camera because of a shaving disdain and the occasional stammer. I’m okay with that, but then again I could be accused of watching the wheels go ‘round and ‘round. Well, if was good enough for the cleverest Beatle, it’s good enough for me. I just get all antsy when I see my camera-hefting brethren dismiss a certain self-proclaimed messiah as the freakin’ antichrist. More likely, he’s an overzealous apostle - one who fell out of a tree perhaps. He should be allowed his sermons and followers without the worst of us hurling stones his way. If that’s too biblical for ya, consider the secular approach. Michael Rosenblum cannot portend the future, but even the quickest review of his dogma proves he clearly understands the state of local television today. That’s enough for me to hold off launching any pitchfork crusades - even if it wins me no converts in the temple of the lens.

Hope I don’t get excommunicated.


Rosenblum said...

Hi Stewart,
Nothing I like better thank to wake up at 2:30am, reach for the blackberry and read your blog! (Although I have to admit that the link to Stephen King kept me distracted and sent me to Amazon for a purchase). You write so well that you have no doubt launched a thousand bloggers. I have also seen your video- and you VJ so well that you have as well launched a thousand VJs. You make the case that we don't need the hairdo guys messing up the stories, and while others might not do it as well as you just time they will learn.
....And now, back to sleep. (Love these black sheets!)

Johnny D in Miami said...

Well written and on point 'Slinger.

There's room for all in this biz and you, like many of us, know how to see reality through the binary thinking mobs of arrogance.

I don't think you should worry too much about your shaving habits and how that might affect a future on-cam appearance in your own offerings.

You're a journo sir. You know how to balance your own appearance in a story with the telling/showing.

Don't limit yourself.

Keep up the great work both here and at the day job.

turdpolisher said...

Well said. I'll hold off on notifing Pope Barton. I also like going it alone more than occasionally.

Who needs a suit and a stick mic when the reason you're there is the story. And you tell 'em good.

peter said...

great post

Michael is not the messiah he's the John the Baptist.

VJ awaits deliverance at the hands of some Capa-Morrow.

newmediajim said...

I HAD to get a picture of him with an adult camera! Later he jokingly (probably only half) that he could always be a "specialization" consultant once the VJ thing begins to show diminishing returns!