Appealing to the audience…

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This posting comes to you courtesy of a confused mind. A combination of blog-hopping, too much time gardening in the sun, and physically and mentally wrapping up a contest my students entered.

So Mindy McAdams had a great blog and link to a Christian Science Monitor article by Robert G. Picard (any relation to THE Picard I wonder). That stewed around in my sizzling brain as I hemmed and hoed in the garden mulling over why my clan of volunteer videots had so much difficulty with climax and resolution in writing their script for the 48 Hour Film Project.

Stories. Storytelling. What does the audience really want – do you give them what you think they want? Do you re-hash the same old/same old? That was a big part of my students’ dilema as they brainstormed and came up with plot after plot for a movie script. The deadline was for real – 48 hours to write a script, shoot and edit a movie and hand it over before the ticking clock cut them off.

The headline over Picard’s article pissed me off at first: “Why journalists deserve low pay.” Like a momma pitbull, I protect my craft. But before I could attack and sink my teeth in, his argument reached my logic center. Dammit.

Wages are compensation for value creation. And journalists simply aren’t creating much value these days.

Summarized: In the past there were not a lot of content providers. Only one or two newspapers and three or four TV and radio stations per market. So what was produced had value – the audience wanted it; craved it. The providers could get their asking price from both audience and advertiser.

This scarcity raised the economic value of content. That additional value is gone today because a far wider range of sources of news and information exist.

Not only are there more providers…there isn’t much enterprise to make up for the glut of information, so there is a lot of duplication. Tune into any TV news program, newspaper (virtual or on paperstock), radio station, website – however you get your daily fix – and it’s just one big story chasing its own tail. I love Picard’s assessment – basically that journalists today are experts at sifting through and finding information – but not at creating new, original content that will satisfy their specific audience.

…the real measure of journalistic value is value created by serving readers.

He sums it up in three words: ADAPT OR DIE.

Read the entire article – concisely written and worth both the read and the time spent mulling and then returning for a second read. Picard is pointing us in the right direction – and it isn’t looking backwards, but honestly talking with the audience, getting to know them, and keeping up this conversation as we cover OUR community.

So what does this have to do with my movie-making moguls? Lots. After hours of plotting, they began to realize they were just re-hashing every bad (or good) movie they had ever seen. They realized they had to break away from the trite, the predictable and not be plot plagiarists, but take a risk and be original.

The result is a simple short story that has all of the elements of plot (forgive the English teacher for reiterating: exposition, conflict/rising action, climax, resolution/falling action) AND is delightfully original and unexpected. I’ll post a link to my VJ Classroom after Tuesday night when we see the screening of the movie in San Francisco.

Oh – and yeah, bloggers (my guilty hand is in the air) are often the worst when it comes to original content. Too often we take other’s ideas and (as in this posting) review and present to our own audience. Although I do like to think (1) spreading information is not a bad thing and (2) most of my postings are my own demented creations.

One thought on “Appealing to the audience…

  1. I like to think we are spreading the information. I have learned so much by reading other people’s blogs about other people’s blogs! I hope that works for my blog too.

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