Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Props from Afar

Don’t look now, but we TV news photojournalists are getting mad props -- from a newspaper editor! Okay, so it’s a ‘multimedia’ editor, but Colin Mulvany of the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington has made a name for himself on the internets by shooting video for his paper’s website since 2005. A still photographer for 18 years, Colin saw the writing on the newsroom wall and made an early leap to the moving image. Now he’s got a shiny new blog and in one of his very first posts, he extends an olive branch to the TV photog. Dig:
For the longest time, still photojournalists loved to talk smack about the TV lenslingers that would often get in our shots. But as newspaper photojournalists transition to shooting video, they should realize our TV brethren have something to teach us.
In a word: Stunning. Maybe it doesn’t seem so to you, but a print guy giving TV news shooters their due…well, that just doesn’t happen. (Imagine Keith Olbermann pouring out a little gin and juice for his homey Bill O’Reilly.) What makes it all the more significant is Mulvany’s apparent grasp of how television newsrooms work. From his identification of Charles Kuralt as the patron saint of feature stories to his equally correct assertion that consultants and cowardice have ripped the still beating heart out of television news, Colin Mulvany gets it. And unlike the blowhards who make up much of the newspaper video punditry (Paging Howard Owens…Paging Howard Owens…), he doesn’t insult everyone in the room with hollow proclamations of dominance. Hell, he even lets loose with a newspaper assertion I never thought I’d see in print:
I think too many of us believe, as we’re huddled in our supply closet video editing suites, that we’re actually inventing a new way to tell a video story. The fact is, the cream of the TV shooter crop, has done this for decades.
Damn, I like this guy and not just because he repeatedly uses the term ’lenslinger’ (Oh, how I hope my little word one day ends up in a dictionary!). No, I like Mr. Mulvany because he recognizes that, despite a highly flawed broadcast model, most TV news shooters are skilled storytellers with more passion than paycheck. God knows it’s easy to pick on TV News: trite writing, shallow coverage and a penchant for pretty people make us ripe targets for the pointy-headed set. But if newspaper people are truly serious about rewriting the rules of video, they’d be smart to set aside their aspersions and take a long hard look at what TV news does well. You wanna bag on our hyperbole? Take it upstairs. You want to pick the brains (and beat the pants off) of folks who are committed to the moving image? Talk to the photogs. Or better yet, visit NPPA or b-roll TV and see what our very brightest consider their best.

Oh yeah - thanks, Colin. Now get outta my shot!

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