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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Attention Deficit Order of the Day

I remember getting chastised by a teacher in a Broadcast Journalism class (my master’s degree) for not using enough visuals in an 8-minute piece about the men who invented the atom bomb. I was amazed to be speaking with these men at all in the early 80’s and listening to their misgivings about the nuclear age they had spawned. I left the screen on each of their faces for the most part. I was told that the American audience would not sit still for a talking heads piece. She was right of course. I remember one lecturer who told us that the average length of each soundbite (the part where an interviewee speaks) in a news story had gone down from about 25 seconds to about 7 or 8 seconds. I wonder what it’s at now? Who needs an “actuality” when we can have a great-looking, smooth-talking newscaster capsulize what the interviewee said? Nowadays some of the most popular media are 2 minute viral videos passed along the internet, or 15 year olds doing a quick dance on You Tube. I predict that most of the “vanity videos” (the "Me Shows") will lose their popularity and fade to the background after the YouTube novelty wears off. But I think the mini-time-length format is here to stay. Hopefully Viacom and the other big boys won’t take it all over and net neutrality will enable a multitude of artists to reach the public via the web. Still I wish I hadn’t been so reshaped by media rhythms. I wish I could still enjoy a long-shot, thoughtful, internally luxurious Ingmar Bergman film. Maybe they’ll re-release them in two minute increments on the web.

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