The future of newsgathering

The future of newsgathering

: Ernie Miller sends us to a really wonderful post by Lenslinger, a TV cameraman who is watching himself be replaced by… us. He covers a media event (planned implosion of building; film at 11) and sees that “a new breed of onlooker rose up to record it”:

I speak not of the swarthy camera pirate with his heavy lens and professional press pass, but of the mild mannered college professor with the brand new camera-phone, the smiley housewife with the shiny Sure-Shot, the cocksure columnist with a thesis already brewing in the laptop. They are more than erstwhile tourists. They are the rabid bloggers, the plugged-in pundits, the citizen press corps – whip-smart individuals whose very nature drives them to post pictures, links and commentary on the sudden collapse before the dust even finishes settling over once fertile ground.

From Tripod Row, the viewís indeed a little scary. Squinting civilians peering into tiny lenses, breaking bedrock principles of camera-handling with every unnecessary sweep and pan. No one expected the democratization of media to be pretty, but the attendant lens abuse is enough to break this cinematographerís heart. But that ship has sailed, a nautical phrase as apparently outdated as Wide-Medium-Tight and Steady Sequenced Video. What use are lofty production values to the herky-jerky nature of todayís internet footage? Does proper composition really matter when the end product is viewed on a one inch screen? Of course it does – but only to us broadcast dinosaurs. This new hybrid breed of digital scribe gives little thought to such matters, instead relying on quick image uploads and push-button publishing to make up for his lack of camera acumen.

Itís enough to make those of us in the media scrum to talk of the End Times….

I could quote the whole post but instead go over to his site and read the rest.

Of course, this isn’t just about TV video. This is about photography and audio and text and reporting. He’s going through the ding-ding moment I went through, as a print guy, a few years ago.

I always said that when I was a critic, the only thing that separated me from the audience was that I got the stuff early (and couldn’t skip over the bad parts). But now bloggers get books and tapes for review before release. So nothing would separate me as a critic from them as an audience; we’re all us.

What separates a professional journalist from a journalist? Oh, that’s what journalists of all stripes are fretting over. Training? Maybe. But if we could learn how to hold a camera steady or get a quote right, anybody could. EThics? Oh, I dislike that one; we all have ethics, even if don’t have them enshrined in codes, and often those with the codes are the first to forget the essence of their ethics. Money? That’s starting to flow to the just-plain people.

We all have the tools now. Ding, dong, the priests are dead. Jittery video at 11.

: MORE: Matthew in Australia watches the coverage of a woman charged with drugs in Bali and notes, similarly:

I mean, how many consumer-level video cameras and flipped-out LCD screens did you see hovering above the sea of journalists alongside the bulkier, broadcast-quality stuff? A lot! There was one Indonesian guy in a red shirt who, not weighed down by carry bags, lenses and boom mikes, was running after the police car with a video camera no larger than the size of his palm. And he was the only one keeping up! That’s pretty full-on.