Wednesday, June 24, 2009

All Hat, No Cattle

Just because I'm picking bits of beach out of my teeth, doesn't the rest of the world is on holiday. In fact Alex Lindsay of the ProVideo Coalition has been quite busy building a shoulder mount rig for the new iPhone. Sure, it's nothing less than ridiculous - but the implications rank right up there with the buggy whip. Think about it: When every other resident of Earth is packin' a cell phone that shoots and uploads video to the web, do we really need legions of professional lenslingers with their laughably large dino-cams? Well ... yeah.

Folks with user-friendly phone-cam in their pockets are still no match for a network of news cameras wielded by pros. After all, some idiot with an iPhone still can't craft the kind of b-block schlock I so specialize in. C'mon - can you even imagine some schlub turning a report on a school bus rodeo or a dog in a funny hat with a camera the size of a candybar? I think not. But here's the rub: The market for feel-good video fluff is - much to my chagrin - on the wane. No, it won't vanish overnight, but with news divisions dwindling, viewer habits collapsing and the twin tubes of the internet overtaking every aspect of communication, there just ain't alot of call for the waterskiing squirrel.

But it isn't just silly features. No facet of broadcasting will remain unchanged by the revolution already in progress. A teetering economy, a tsunami of new tools, the ubiquity of the web ... it's the perfect recipe for a brand new paradigm. This ain't news, of course - but the advent of cellphones that's a TV camera and a TV set will no doubt be seen one day as a watershed moment. We're still not quite there yet, the iPhone's camera is reportedly clunky, but its ease of use and ability to instantly upload changes EVERYTHING. Looking forward to the next large plane crash, terrorist attack, Sasquatch invasion? Few of us are, but when that next unwanted schism occurs, don't wait for the networks to catch up. Go to the web, where the pictures, interviews and impressions will be scattered on-line before the first news anchor can get their dimpled chins on it.

Now, say cheese...


Amanda said...

The funny thing, this same argument was going on in the 1930s over miniature 16mm cameras taking over from the pros with the full sized rigs.

And I have one of those then feared amateur-grade 16mm cameras sitting on a shelf above my computer as I type this - to put its size in in perspective, its slightly larger than the FlipCams that news directors have gone gaga over today.

Some things just don't change.

Have heart Stu, with the proliferation of HD and big screen teevees - its highly unlikely your craft will be replaced by pimpled face kids and soccer moms with iPhones. The public won't stand for it if the sh*t I got from viewers over FlipCam video when I was forgetful enough to not take off my station badge when running errands right after work was any indication.

On the financial front, TV news survived the sudden removal of cigarette ad dollars two generations ago - it will survive this financial crises (and the cig dollars was big money, NBC's entire operation at one point was supported solely by Camel's ad dollars)

cyndy green said...

Good points Amanda...but I think what Lens does have to fear is not competition but - as he says - a new paradigm. How news is covered is morphing and what people view as news is morphing. What TV/print do/used to do is becoming obsolete - now telling the story has changed to watching the story unfold from a thousand perspectives or watching a personal re-tell of a story. Maybe it's neutral news that is fading as personal news moves to the front. And that evolved out of Chatty Kathy the anchor and good ole Robby the Reporter getting involved in the story. Who can we blame but ourselves?

Amanda said...

Cyndy, I sat on Twitter watching Iran unfold. At the same time another conversation rose up along side the #iranelection hash tag - #CNNFail. People were actually demanding that CNN domestic cover a major news event instead of a pre-recorded entertainment show.

I'm 26 years old, I've basically lived my entire life around ARPAnet, MILnet/NSFnet and then the Internet. My peers I grew up and went to school with, many of them work in high tech fields now and are highly wired. You would expect them of all people to be into watching news unfold from a thousand perspectives. They don't. Most still turn to local news outlets for the story, just the portion of the local news outlet they turn to happens to be their websites instead of the 6pm newscast.

Those who tune out the news in any form do it because local news doesn't affect them yet. They are not married, they don't have kids and they don't own their homes. Unfortunately your average newscast is aimed, as a mentor of mine put it years ago "at the stay-at-home mom with two kids under the age of seven" - in other words, not the sort of news someone barely out of college is interested in. Sure, when they finally settle down and are vested in their community, then they start paying attention more to what's on the 6pm show. On the other hand, some of the sh*t that gets aired as stories isn't helping (dirty hotel sheets anyone?)

The cultural revolution that the Internet has wrought in regards to communication on the other hand is what will make or break a station as my generation and those after us comes of age. Credentialed journalists and news outlets are still seen as the authority on the news, but the expectation is there is that the respective outlets will be more human online instead of using the Internet as an extension of the promotions department (and to knock off the walled-garden attitude many journos have when it comes to their communities).

I can rant on and on over this paradigm, new media and social media if I wasn't so tired from wrangling Kev's site back into working order....(and my ramblings probably don't make any sense since I am so darned tired)

Lenslinger said...

Ramble on, Amanda...I love it!

Weaver said...

At CBS4 in Miami a reporter actually shot a story about the new iPhone WITH the new iPhone.

OK Quality...BUT....I hate it for anyone trying to get the long shot without a zoom lens.

Maybe that's on the next iPhone.

cyndy green said...

Whahoo Amanda!

I feel like a dinosaur and love learning from you! You (like my 27 year old daughter) are so wired to the world I can't keep up. You are world citizens while I amble along with my hearing aids and specs trying to focus on something that doesn't move too much.

By the way - totally totally agree with you about tv, promotions, etc. My ability to watch a news program ends when the commercials masquerading as news appear.