I have known several world-class musicians who have been recruited to university music schools with offers of full scholarship plus expenses (essentially the same deal that scholarship varsity athletes receive). These young musicians are not only allowed, but encouraged, to take as many outside, paid performance jobs as they can handle. Indeed, I knew some who played in the local symphony, at full wages, while in school. Why is it acceptable for an oboe player but not a football, basketball, or tennis player to earn outside income, even unrelated to the sport, while making considerable income for the university?
Talk Is Cheap
Dave Marash has been a master storyteller for half a century. “Fade to Black” (CJR, September/October) is one of his most important—and most disturbing.
If anything, David is being a little too kind in his observations (he always has been a gentleman). CNN’s Jonathan Klein and his counterparts state that intelligent talk can be more informative than crafted video reporting. In theory, that may be true. Unfortunately, in practice it’s a different matter. Frequently, the “talk” to be found on television news programs is utter banality. For their next project, perhaps Dave’s team can tally the number of statements per hour that are uninformed, off-point, or just outright silly. I suggest purchasing a calculator that has an exponent function.
New York, NY
The irony here is so deep as to be painful. As the technology of video and television production has gotten increasingly simpler and cheaper to make, TV networks have run away from it instead of embracing it. For nearly twenty-five years, I have been preaching the gospel of the video journalist (VJ), as well as building TV networks and stations around the world based on this simple principle: give reporters laptops and cameras and show them the door. In many places in the world, this concept has been eagerly embraced—it is both less expensive (cutting the cost by as much as 80 percent) and at the same time, it delivers far more and better material.
At the BBC, we took their national network from fielding sixty-four beta crews a day to cover the country to fielding more than a thousand cameras a day—all in the hands of BBC journalists.
At NY1 (which we built in 1990/1!), we put forty-two cameras on the street of New York every day, while WCBS, where Dave Marash was then working, I believe, was fielding eight crews.
When I started Current TV with Al Gore, we unleashed literally millions of VJs with cameras and let them tell their stories—and still we are only at the beginning of this revolution. Yet, having just had meetings with all of the major networks, I can tell you that they would rather go out of business than embrace this concept. And why?
I think it has to do with the idea that “real” reporters don’t carry cameras, and that, in fact, if anyone can shoot and edit video, then they are no longer so “special.”
I saw this many years ago at Channel 1 in London, when Nick Pollard, who later went on to run Sky, replaced the small mobile video cameras with Betacams and all the accompanying gear. His reason: “I will not have my people laughed at in the streets.” It didn’t look “professional” to him.
Twenty years later and nothing has changed.
New York, NY
Open the Door!
Thank you, Curtis Brainard, for an excellent article (“Transparency Watch: A Closed Door,” CJR, September/October). The government’s press policies establish one-way information flows (them to us) and deter media efforts to get off its storyline. That’s only possible when government scientists are not afraid to publicly speak their minds on controversial matters of public interest—the last thing their bosses want to let happen.