Monday, May 07, 2007

Two thought provoking articles

First up, let's step back to David Foster Wallace and his comments on television.

"TV is not vulgar and prurient and dumb because the people who compose the audience are vulgar and dumb. Television is the way it is simply because people tend to be extremely similar in their vulgar and prurient and dumb interests and wildly different in their refined and aesthetic and noble interests."

With this in mind, it's interesting then to see where people go when they are unleashed from the restraints of mass broadcast.

"Of the top 10 podcasts, 7 are from public radio, PBS, CNN, or in one case - an instructional podcast in learning Spanish. And in the audiobooks section, you don’t find the kind of entertainment Hollywood thinks we want. 14 of the top 15 audiobooks are non-fiction. People want to hear about Einstein. They want to hear from the Dalai Lama and George Tenet. They’re interested in the teachings of Abraham and in Stephen Colbert."

Maybe there's hope for us all yet.

Second, in light of the Virginia Tech massacre how do we define a journalist? The camera-phone footage shot by student Jamal Albarghouti has been designated journalism, and there's even been comments that Seung-Hui Cho, the shooter, should be considered a journalist for creating his own content to be sent on to NBC.

But surely such activity is less that of journalist and more that of a documentary maker. Or, in Cho's case, a Public Relations officer creating a press release package. I think it does both journalists and those who just happen to be in the right place at the right time to capture an event a great disservice to lump everyone under the same title.

I am constantly the first to spring to the defence of untrained journalists and those who look to perform the act of journalism outside the sphere of a reconised media outlet, but I can't resolve a role as observer or documenter with the analysis and contextualisation required for what I define as journalism.

"Jamal, a Palestinian, says it was his exposure to professional journalism while living in the West Bank, that gave him the courage to record the terrifying events of April 16th 2007. It’s interesting that he has such pragmatic view of his role while others hold him up as the future model of TV News."

"i’m not a journalist, i just did this. i was there and i took the video. Traditional media was important, seeing how professionals worked allowed me to do what i did. i would’ve never thought of doing that at Virginia Tech."
-Jamal Albarghouti

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