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...

Monday, February 09, 2009

Fear and Loathing in the Fourth Estate

First Newsweek tells me I'll never get rich off my blog, now The Wall Street Journal says local TV stations are facing uncertain futures. Thanks, Team Obvious! What's next - an eye opening report on the dearth of working phone booths? I hear the fax machine industry is on the ropes, too, Better make some calls! A-HEM. Sorry if I sound a bit peevish, but it's getting hard out there for a pimp - and by pimp I mean 42 year old suburbanite who makes his living with a video-camera. Once upon a time my mastery of heavy glass assured me plenty of work and all the logo-wear I could stomach wearing. These days it often earns me the derision of Generation Laptop, who look down their nose-rings at my full-sized rig and ask why anyone would still use such a large, cumbersome camera. There are several answers to that question, but none more satisfying than a certain hand gesture. I rarely bother with either reply though, as we lenslingers have more important things to worry about: like how to stay employed...

But it's not just us shooter-types who are worried about the future. Wander into your local broadcast newsroom and pop a balloon. Chances are someone's gonna wet their pants! But that's not incontinence you're smelling. It's the palpable funk of fear, that aromatic sensation that the other shoe is about to drop. That dread of downsizing has rattled us all: the well-paid main anchor who doesn't take those 2 hour dinner breaks every night anymore, the daydreaming associate producer who's finally learning to edit, that overly verbose photog who thinks he's a freakin' poet! We're all nervous -not just because budgets have dried up, but because life as we know it just may cease to be. If that sounds overblown, you haven't lunched with many broadcast vets lately. I have - and I can tell you they're lousy tippers! But who can blame them... us... you? For every colleague who's lost his job, hundreds more are afraid they'll join them on the beach. If that ain't shocking enough, consider this: Larry King still has a nine o clock time slot! That's just cra-zee...

Then again, not a lot makes sense right now. Consumers continue to hang hi-def plasma-fatties above their fireplaces while News Directors the world over hand out baked-potato cams to twenty-somethings and call 'em pioneers. What will this practice ensure - besides some ugly ass footage? Why are you asking me? I drive around with tools in my hatchback, for God's sake! Okay, okay, I'll take a crack at it. The democratization of the evening news will further erode The Fourth Estate. Already, more recent grads can identify Kanye West's late mother than some stuffed shirt by the name of Edward R. Murrow. As all thoughts of proper camera management fall by the wayside, TV news will shed every vestige of cinema. Soon broadcast journalism just won't be something you'll waste on your wide screen. If you watch it all, it'll be on your iPod wristwatch - or maybe you'll give the news a glance on the side of your toaster. You know, the one that comes with it's own Wi-Fi YouTube channel - yet still burns your morning bagel? Yeah, that one.

Now, as for blogging not making you rich: Anyone who thinks their cyber-diatribes will bring them anything but a false sensation of being red is beyond pathetic. Trust me, I sit up every night speed-typing whatever runs through my head. I know pathetic.

6 comments:

Amanda Emily said...

Even I, the station code monkey, lives in fear daily of the shoe dropping.

Being part of that new-fangled "new media revolution" that is going to save the teevee business isn't enough to keep my daily fears at bay. Hell I rent the duplex I live in month-to-month.

And being "new media" and a member of the 20 something laptop generation doesn't mean all of us approve of ugly ass footage making air - or our websites for that matter. In my case, I can probably blame that on the fact I got started in this whole teevee thing via old school broadcasters and its the way I still view the world.

One thing I've always said, if I ever won the big +100 mil plus lottery jackpot - I'm buying a TV station in some mid-market and running it right, In fact I even jokingly have a whole list of people to lure away from other stations across the country. Public service and a quality product would come first.

Roch101 said...

Should be no worries when you finish that screenplay.

Joel said...

Lenslinger,

If the worst does happen, you may want to investigate the economic stimulus and workforce development, bet numerous universities and schools would love to bring you on as a adjunct instructor.

Joel
SkillTV.net

Rosenblum said...

Hi Stewart
Unfortunately, this is what is happening. Its a function of technology. Its expanded the platforms and fractionalized the ad base. The old model is simply increasingly unworkable. It does not mean it was wrong. It simply means it no longer works.

Brad Weaver, BC Instructor said...

It's a rapidly changing world and as markets and tech change, so will the medium and the message. Just as television changed the world when it arrived on the scene, we will adjust with the shifting landscape and the emerging paradigms. Trying to figure out where to stand as the crap hits the fan is the tricky part.

Duff said...

Great rant, it's a scary world out there. A second San Francisco station just decided to go VJ. Even the big timers are starting to feel that noose tightening.