Thursday, 31 May 2012

The TV News, In One Sentence...

This TV News freelancing malarky is a tough one. One minute you have phone calls, the next you don't. Having been booked for the next few days my heart was lifted, knowing that for the next week or so, me and my family would not be short of a bowl of gruel. Possibly even, a loaf of bread.

But in my heart of hardened hearts, i knew that half way through the day, after covering one fact and figure story, i would call into the office and be told, "That's it today, there is nothing else. Go home."

Rest stop on the way home... Only half a day is done.

  It happened again today... You see, things ain't what they used to be. Time was i could have worked seven days a week for as many hours as i could handle, and i did just that for many years when i started out. Things have changed. Journalists have their own cameras... and edit software. Money for freelancers is tighter than a gnats chuff. Time and resources are not on our side, i confess that i got a bit down in the dumps.

However, i was reminded today by a Cameraman... Sorry... Photog, in the USA called Rick Portier about why i got into this silly game we call the news in the first place. The blog he wrote can be seen here.

Near the end, one sentence stuck out and slapped me around the face... It is possibly why TV News ratings are down, advertising revenue sucks and we find ourselves chasing our collective arses about the countryside in pursuit of stories that really don't matter to the news watching viewer...

"Producers and news directors may want facts, but viewers care about people."

Just there... in one sentence, lies the whole world of TV News gathering. People who watch our output are the people who drive us on. Yes, they want the facts, and they want to be informed of what's happening around them but mostly, facts and figures take control of any story in TV News. In reality, people want to see the human side of the story, the people just like them. Storytelling is what we should be doing, but facts and figures is what we normally get. Fact is what we do. But get the people bit wrong, over and over again, well...  Get that wrong and we might as well go home...

Oh, hang on... I have.

Paul Martin is @ukcameraman on Twitter.