Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nuthin' But Bungee

Leave it to my Surly Editor® to post photographic evidence of the apocalypse now upon us... Okay, so it's just a picture of a handycam hog-tied to a tripod from the Reagan Administration, what's so globe-splitting about THAT? Well, plenty if you happen to sling a lens for a living. Even if you don't, it's hard to excuse the incongruities of a camera the size of a baked potato resting on this launch pad of a pedestal. The yellow and red bungee... eh, it's like noticing that banged-up Hyundai with the spinning rims has duct tape on the door handle. It's a sign of the times, all right; one that troubles News Blues' own Mike James:
The jury-rigged contraption, we think, represents perfectly the current state of local TV news.
No argument there, but from my admittedly low spot on the totem-pole, things are actually looking up. Nooo, I didn't bang my head on my news unit's open tailgate lid. I'm well aware good people are losing their jobs, just as I recognize the drop in overall quality that downsized gear and untested newbies will bring... but as someone who's learned how to turn vague story ideas into ninety second epics without any of that pesky glory, I can tell you: more of the same is on the way. That's fine by me, as I'm convinced TV news would be a lot more watchable if we removed the thick layer of sheen we've let build up on our sets all these many transmissions...

Now I'm not saying we should all sell our tripods, don black turtlenecks and mumble into the microphone like some newspaper hack imitating his favorite NPR host. No one wants more of THAT. But in the name of all that's banal, have you watched a commercial newscast lately? Even the good ones, like those I toil for, follow the same tired architecture forged back when Mary Tyler Moore was on the air. What led to this industry-wide case of arrested development? Consultants? Monopolistic technology? Those fuzzy cheese crackers in the break-room vending machine? Sure, they all played a role - but with staffing down and story count UP, who has time to place blame?

I certainly don't. Neither does my fellow photog Chris Weaver. Together (yet separately) we're cranking out finished pieces without much help from anybody. Got a three o clock event you want to lead your 5:30 show with? Yeah, we can do that. Wanna send one of us to go check out mysterious lights over the worst hood in town? Race ya. Need me to babysit a live truck while someone takes notes on footage I've already committed to memory? Are you HIGH? Don't answer that; just know there's a certain underclass of employee watching all this newsroom upheaval out of the corner of their eye. Remember that scene in Planet of the Apes when Charleton Heston awakes to find the monkey ON TOP of the horse? I'm pretty sure those saddles were held in place with bungee cords....

Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!

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