Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Perils of Evolution

Style and ProfileNetwork affiliates slashing staffs, print reporters willingly shooting digital video, gadabouts with laptops forging on-line personas…the tectonic plates beneath the Fourth Estate are shifting just as the pointy-headed set predicted. Professors, pundits and dunces have long been warning anyone who would listen that growing fissures in the media landscape were about to swallow us all whole. Newspapers felt the first jolts as the internet schism shook relevance and revenue from the very bedrock of their petrified methodology. Meanwhile, we broadcasters professed to be non-believers, washing our hands of our print brethren’s sins as we genuflected in the direction of our giant TV towers out back. Well, those popping sounds you hear overhead are guy wires snapping, as the relics of the past began to plummet and an entirely new electronic edifice emerges…

Okay so the imagery’s a little thick, but you get the idea. So much has already been written about the birth of personal journalism, the death of mainstream media and the afterlife of a plugged-in populace - it would take a curator to sort it all out. Me, I’m just a cameraman - but unlike that schlub leaning on his sticks at the city council meeting, I been paying attention. ’What would it be like if TV News grew up?’ I used to wonder. Could it ever get over its own reflection long enough to evolve? Would I spend the rest of my paltry career perfecting the erection of a hollow mirage? Until five years ago or so it seemed certain I would, but a funny thing happened on the road to Status Quo. The sky opened up, rained down electrons and filled the senses of all those foolish enough to cast their gazes upward. Now that the heavens are truly askew, the cross fertilization has begun. As old archetypes turn to dust, new media life forms are emerging from the Primordial News…

Despite my penchant for shambolic prose, I understand fully that people are hurting. The layoffs at CBS-owned stations across the nation have left both under-funded grunt and the overpaid icon suddenly unemployed. Even the highly gifted are susceptible to the cuts, a point made all too clear when NPPA Editor of the year Shawn Montano was among the number let go in Denver. My heart goes out too all who find themselves ‘on the beach’ and I trust those with such undeniable talent won’t be marooned for long. But we as a TV people will surely be doomed if we don’t embrace this strange new frontier. The bloodletting at CBS stations across the land are but the first sacrificial offerings to reshape our faith. I’m not suggesting we break any sacred any tablets, for the fundamentals of moving picture news will surely deliver us from exile. That said, its no time to rest on our convictions, not with new messiahs rising and old media deities turning to dust.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta drag this pillar of salt across one more deadline…

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

...And what do you forsee will happen to the staff at the Greensboro Fox affiliate when the new owners file through the front door with their bean-counting calculators?

Lenslinger said...

I forsee a possible shake-up, but as one who runs circles around other crews, I ain't worried. Much.

Rosenblum said...

Lovely, thoughtful and prescient piece Stewart. As usual, you are ahead of the curve... but not by too much.

Anonymous said...

Dude,

I read alot of the works of PhDs regarding the economy, statistics, porn sites...

This post read like one of those.

Very impressive, very impressive indeed.

HockeyPat (who is still more attrative than you)

cyndy green said...

I hopped over to LostRemote via your link...no, it ain't over yet. TV news grew up before its time and never took the time until recently to reflect on what it really was/could be. Too often it was market driven...not day by day, but over the long run catering by inches to public demand. Now that rating are pummeling the quick fix is to lay off staff...

Like you I (was) a lowly photog...but even I could see the handwriting on the wall for years (and this before I bailed). Once satellite beamed down a kazillion offerings and folks could have rapid Internet, the race was over.

TV must join the race and become a hybrid if it wants to keep its audience.