Unprotected Television

By | August 8, 2008

The use of uncut footage on the internet is interesting. In one or two cases, ITV Local has published raw footage shot by our news crews taken at public events. The presentation of uncut material – including unsightly zooms, pans, and shaky shots – is a style that we associate with home videos. Yet one of the strengths of home videos is that you know that they haven’t been cut to show the best bits; they are authentic warts and all presentations of the facts, blatantly transparent.

The power of this footage comes from the fact that it is exactly what the camera picked up, not as the producer wanted you to see it. Psychologically you open yourself up to events as they happened not as the producer wanted you to see them.

In here is wrapped up the issue of trust. Would you rather see a presentation chosen for you or would you prefer to see the evidence and make your own mind up? In the days before the internet the produced report may have been the only source of information available to you and so it made sense for a journalist to tell you the story. In the internet generation the audience is equipped with facts from multiple sources and has the facility to make their own mind up about what they are seeing. The audience has the power to give the footage context, to fill in the gaps, to make sense of it.  The viewer is in fact the producer!

Another aspect related the the element of trust is that of taste and decency.  When we watch produced coverage we know that there has been a process of editorial judgement which has filtered out anything inappropriate or disturbing.  When we are watching uncut footage or live pictures we may be aware that anything is possible. This is unprotected television.

What do you think? What is the role of the producer?

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