September 9, 2009

The Trouble With B-Roll

My schedule is starting to settle down a bit, so I’ll be finishing these projects soon. While you wait, here’s a bit of funny business that makes an interesting point about journalism practiced on television.

I mentioned in my Introduction to Journalism class last week that a given medium will affect not only how messages may be delivered but will also affect the content of messages. If something cannot be photographed, it’s unlikely to get much attention from television news. And in the event a news situation is important but lacks much of a visual element, then TV reporters will do location stand-ups to create a visual element. It’s funny to note how many of these stand-ups totally unnecessary to the story.

Then there’s B-Roll — the extra stuff news photographers shoot to show during voice-overs.

I think it’s OK sometimes just to let the news anchors tell the story. Sometimes we don’t need to see it.

3 Responses

  1. Tim 

    “a given medium will affect not only how messages may be delivered but will also affect the content of messages”

    I’m wondering whether the “Visual bias” is more an infrastructural bias than a structural one. Thoughts?

  2. acline 

    Tim… I like the infrastructural concept a lot. Thanks for reminding me of it.

    Perhaps VB slops over the structural-infrastructural boundary, i.e. it is possibly both a cognitive and physical constraint on a news message given on television. I’m thinking natural sound in radio reporting might be analogous. Hmmmm…

  3. Tim 

    I’m all for slop! I think the visual bias also slops across medium (paper-images/graphics, web & TV-images/graphics/video) in varying degrees and is absent in others (radio).