Saturday, April 14, 2007

Crossing the Media Bridge

With all the major "news in the news" stories this week, there was smaller story that I found interesting. It was featured at the top of the Media Bistro / TV Newser website early this week before the Imus scandal broke. The short blog essay was on CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He is releasing a book, timed to coordinate with a documentary on CNN--both called "Chasing Life."

TV Newser hailed this as innovative--both for CNN, which for the first time will pair a book release and a television project, and for television news in general. I found myself wondering: Is this really so groundbreaking? It makes so much sense to me that an in-depth journalistic investigation would launch itself into multiple media.

TV Newser quoted Gupta on the development of these parallel projects. "When I started traveling around, it was clear that some things are better for the written format and some things are much more visual," he said. "You go somewhere and think 'that's such a great story, but it's not going to work for TV, it's not going to work for the magazine.'"

This is precisely why I'm so surprised that a million journalists haven't already crossed the media bridge to report the same story at the same time through different media. I started thinking about why that might be the case, and the only reasoning I came up with is that so few television journalists seem to take the time to really immerse themselves in a story. Television seems to revolve so intensely around quickly capturing images and then writing to those images--the visuals almost precede the story. Naturally that means you're left with very little reason to tell a companion story outside the images.

For Gupta, the curiosity and the story had time to develop and take on multiple forms. As he said, in the process of uncovering the story he was able to recognize the parts of it that worked for one medium or another. That takes a particular attentiveness to the story, a particular patience to allow the story to proceed organically and into the forms that suit it best. Unfortunately, it seems that too often these days television doesn't afford journalists the time to really examine a story from inside out. So, it's nice to see that--on the rare occasion it does happen--people, if only at TV Newser, take notice.


At Sunday, April 15, 2007, Blogger LL said...

The news biz is a fast-paced industry that barely gives you time to stop and take a breath. But, when a story hits you personally, I think it is perfectly find for the journalist to take some time to go deeper into the story. This is a vital part of reporting. If all we are trying to do is turn out stories, than what is the purpose? What is the meaning of what we do? Without putting some heart and thought into our work, it is no greater than a robot regurgitating information.


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