Six Things You Could Do to Improve Stories Around Climate Crisis.
- TV News journalism requires access and immediacy to events for its output. This can often hamper reportage or deep coverage. For instance consider the logistics of a journalist/ TV reporter from say, CNN, trying to get to disaster points. What’s the risk assessment? How will they cover the disaster? Fixers, local journalists with knowledge — these are needed. Where will the reporter stay? How will they file?
Often even when these immediate operational tasks are addressed it impacts output. Where for instance are the night shots of people? Solution: invest in training videojournalists who can stay on an event bracing for the hardships people may likely suffer. Claudio Von Planta ( a friend) is ex-military. He’s filmed around war zones and trouble spots. You want someone who can understand what people are going through. A story spanning a week, month, even year will provide a richer, empathetic story, with several story arcs. I share this link between two storytellers covering the Sichuan Earthquake in China. One is a TV journalist, the other a videojournalist. I always apologise to Chinese students before I screen this.
- Super collaborations. Some stories beg to be shared and involve collaborations or otherwise clusters between media. The issue is bigger than the competitiveness of media about who get’s the “best pictures” or stories. Pool efforts amongst local media so you have a repository to create deeper stories from wider assets/ media. Co-create with others involved in the story. If the story can’t get in front of readers or viewers because of media competition you’ve lost the urgency and purpose around climate and its impact. Did you know that the footage of 9/11 Twin Towers attack is owned by a news agency? Hence to screen it, you have to pay? This reduces its availability for public viewing. Climate stories are equally humanitarian stories that should be widely shared.
- The MSF effect. This global humanitarian outfit regularly allows professional media and photographic crews like Magnum to accompany them into disaster zones and makes their media available to use. Collaborate with professionals in the field to assist in creating media. I’m a big fan of this approach and they’ve been good to me in the past. There’s no pressure on how you tell the story.
- The TikTok effect. TikTok has proven to be an emerging media which is now channeling news. Its algorithms and user base means you the TikToker benefit from wide sharing. There are a myriad styles on TikTok that invariably reward innovation and creativity above TV’s news’ package. This is the platform for innovators and now the not-so-young viewers get their news. CNN’s Max Foster spoke to me and MA students about what he’s learned from the platform. He’s one of the most watched on the platform. I’ll upload his interview in another post. TV News please note: the trajectory for viewers will only decline further if you can’t find new ways of engaging audience.
- The future is Web 3 and decentralisation. It may seem high tech, but look to investing in DAOs and a community of climate concerners. Invest in the community, so they can co-direct stories, and create interest by offering media as potential limited NFTs.
- SuperSize me, Kony 2012, An inconvenient Truth reveal patterns for how to make stories with an impact. This sounds difficult, but it boils down to investment of time and available resources. Take a look at one of the exemplars, now a good friend, who was part of my study into videojournalists / solo news makers who create something akin to cinema that the audience and critics deeply admire. A cinema journalist effectively uses any tool a director would use to create a story e.g. drones, mobile, VR etc. There are a growing number, which I’ve talked about in the past. This presentation in Russia, I used to reveal several skilled TV journalist whose news making is meta. I used the word meta to say it’s beyond the normal framing of television.
Photos courtesy of Farid Rais, Senior Broadcast Journalist, Pakistan. Thanks to Abubakar for organising use of photos and for the workshop he helped conduct, in which I was invited to speak.
Dr David Dunkley Gyimah has worked in media for more than thirty years. He’s the recipient of several awards and specialises in innovation, cinema and videojournalism and international news. He’s previously worked for ABC News, BBC, Channel 4 News and WTN and has travelled the world training and creating media. He lectures in International News Reporting at Cardiff University. ff him on @viewmagazine