It’s a naive question with no simple answer. Journalism’s canvas, its fraternity, its origins and development is way too broad to deliver a unitary function. A writer reviewing horticulture will rarely engage in exposing wrong-doings from politicians. Different journalists.
What is the point of journalism using video in the 21st century?
Every era declares a momentous reach. History looks back to the 1960s to Hunter S Thompson’s immersive essayistic journalism, to the 50's and Ed Murrow’s finessed incisive portfolio, to the 40s when Grierson’s documentary form was universal.
Between the the 1970s post Bernstein and Woodard, mission creep halted any grandiloquent version of journalism. Yes, you can name brilliant individuals e.g. Roger Cook and award winning outlets, but video and journalism’s DNA to innovate was stunted.
It corrupted itself aided by powerful institutions. The 300 pound Gorilla that could make us stand and take notice degenerated into a colossal circus, a veritable news machine fed by corporates PR, lies and obfuscation.
Yes, some held their nerves and delivered, but they were few and far between. Video journalism’s literalness meant it became incapable of accepting anythig but the performance. Politicians and public alike know how to manipulate journalism.
So long as you perform on camera and keep to the script -even when it’s obvious that you’re a ‘liar, liar pants on fire’, the journalist has their fill-in for 3 long minutes.
The UK’s general election is a poignant example. The Conservative’s ‘election guru’ or arch manipulator of public thinking Lynton Crosby advises his employers to put a dead cat on the table, when they’re losing an argument.
People will forget the issue, but be seduced and continue to talk about the spectacle of the dead cat. Journalists know this, but will continue to perpetuate the ruse and nonsense.
Here below is a rare occasion from the BBC’s flagship news programme Newsnight in which an exasperated presenter Evan Davies [ at 4.35] ceases to be the journalist admiring the dead cat.
What is the purpose of video journalism in 2015 as ‘Rome burns’ and the we the people supposedly absolve ourselves of any compassion? Journalism could do something, but its manacled to dead weight theories that caresses the egos of ‘old skool’ practitioners. It could not innovate then and fails woefully now.
Innovations within a secondary movement of videojournalism is viewed by its critics as anomalies, spurned by individuals who often face ridicule. Their work exists, hidden from the detritus of convention, but thank goodness they persevered and their voice is growing.
Intentionality in the 21st century is a variable that comparatively few institutions teach because the thinking goes it is not measurable. Hence, the social utility of journalism is bound by whatever spin newsworthy individuals deliver.
From the journalists, technological fetishism has come to replace discursive thinking. Having newer tech gear and getting the news quick is the emperors digital clothes which has replaced consideration.
Some videojournalists have designed frameworks for raising video journalism’s game. At its heart, speed, technology, more technology is being usurped for the ever expanding frontiers of knowledge encrusted in classical and digitally enlightening philosophies.
We needed to philosophise more, not as a vane exercise in verbal superiority and assaults, but in cutting through the dead meat that is fed to viewers as journalism, to explain the nuances of discussions which television news eschewed from the get go because it wanted to appeal to the broader spectrum.
Intentionality should be scrutinised more efficiently. John Oliver, typically amongst the journalistic fraternity, is viewed not a journalist, but his interview with Snowden went beyond the crass parlance of meism journalism.
Intentionality configured around the broader issue of phenomenology gives license to explore consciousness. It is a critically learned skill. It risks pomposity but applied well cuts past the rhetoric of ‘he said, she said’ politics.
What does videojournalism mean in the 21st century? Whilst the broad spectrum of journalism enquiry still persists, textual and visual constructs should aim to push narrative into the broader scope of the something else.
Before there was modern journalism, there was art, cinema, the Dasein.
The author becomes a central figure, not as a vain attempt to see themselves centre stage, but to get behind the intentions of others. The Kantian logic should be made. Just because some powerful politicians deny climate change is not an excuse to dismiss it.
If not a commercial reason, is there not a humanitarian purpose to aid those caught in conflict? Is it worth shedding light on issues that fixate the electorate rather than those that stoke the egos of journalists talking to each others? Why does fictional cinema do a better job at immanence than journalism on the same issue?
What does videojournalism mean for the 21st century? That’s partly what I explored in a PhD thesis that looks at videojournalism not as an exercise in video literacy, but how culture, society and cinema plays an integral role in shaping our understanding of issues beyond the status quo.