Aviation, TV and New Media

By Robert Mark on March 8th, 2007

Honestly, I don’t watch a lot of television, except for a few favorites like Doctor Who, The Daily Show, 24, maybe an odd movie from time to time, or the Sunday political talk shows.

Until last week, I’d say I actually never did more than react to TV content seldom even thinking how the bits come together to produce either a great television show or a dud.

When I think about the aviation industry and television too, there is usually even less to talk about. Can you quickly name one place on the Internet or cable TV to find video aviation news or features? And why not?

After spending last week at the Helicopter Association International show in Orlando as a TV news reporter and budding producer, I have to admit, I’ll never watch TV again and not think about the efforts of the production people behind the scenes.

I left HAI with a few practical lessons in production like camera set-up, scripting end editing and realized that some of the same issues I saw up close during my TV work easily carry over to the world of blogging, podcasting and vidcasting. For instance, is the quality of content more important than speed or frequency of delivery I wondered?

HAI Orlando was the second trade show for AIN TV, the new online television arm from the publishers of Aviation International News where I’ve been a contributor for the past seven years. AIN TV brought the magazine’s print journalists together with a highly-skilled group of Orlando TV folks to produce professional news shows with an aviation feel. I’d encourage you to take a look.

A week of writing at a break-neck TV pace proved to me that there are plenty of people who can think on the fly with content almost jumping from their fingertips. There are many bloggers out there who function in much the same way.

But what really impressed me about the HAI show was how the writers, producers and camera people transformed the raw footage I and others helped shoot, as well as the voiceover scripts we all helped write into a a truly professional television experience.

I walked back to the studio after my interview with MD Helicopter’s Lynn Tilton having trouble imagining how we’d ever translate 37 minutes of video tape into a great product. When I saw the finished product later that day, Day 3, Pod 2 to be precise, my mouth honestly hung open for awhile. It looked brilliant.

And this is where the huge gap exists right now in the world of new media.

There are dozens, hundreds and thousands of new blogs, podcasts and vidcasts appearing all the time. You Tube is the new common server to the world. No one lacks for content.

There were times when Jetwhine.com first evolved, that I thought it was my job to keep up with these people, some of whom post every day, some a few times each day.

In the end though, I’m glad I didn’t take that route.

The main reason I and a few other aviation blogs haven’t taken that path, I think, is that we really believe people are being overwhelmed with content, much of it pure junk.

If you haven’t subscribed to Google’s Alert service, try it and watch your Inbox fill up quicker than a summer backyard barbecue. I’ll bet I receive 30 or 40 alert messages a day that match a few keywords I put in when I signed up.

But most of the content I see, be they blogs or podcasts are missing one crucial element that was so apparent after my AIN TV experience … production talent.

Without the talent to edit videos or audios, or reframe the content beyond simply reprinting a news item dragged down from somewhere else, without the ability to make a cohesive and interesting argument for or against something, the blogging world is going to sink itself.

Hopefully, there will be a few of us still floating around the net in a few years doing what we do best … giving our readers new – OK, some might say oddly new – perspectives on aviation issues.

The Quality of what a blogger or podcaster produces will always win out over frequency of deliver. That’s why people subscribe.

At least I hope so!

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