The BBC and VideoBlogs

Over the last few years, one of my top podcasts has been Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review. Its the BBCs flag ship radio show about film. I would never have known about it if it had only been available as a radio broadcast, but as the BBC has successfully embraced podcasting they have managed to bring this content to a wider audience.

This is  a fine example of an old format being distributed by new means, and it works really well. But Mark Kermode also has an ‘Uncut Blog‘ hosted on the pages of the BBC, which is unfortunately one of the best example of old media trying to replicate new media and failing abysmally.

Now, I must admit that there are things I like about this blog. I’m glad they’ve made an rss feed (something so many corporate blogs overlook), I like that they always post the videos on youtube as well (just sensible really), and most importantly the content is always worth while. But unfortunately the whole endeavour still feels a little awkward.

It has the impression that it was dreamt up in some executive boardroom, “Hey, what about one of them ‘blogs’ we’ve been hearing so much about…??!? yea the kids love ’em.! Throw some money about and make it happen..!!”

ok, i’m sure the bbc isn’t quite this out of date, but still….

Each blog post consists of a brief text description along with a 3-5minute iplayer video which contains the real content of the piece. But these videos are not video-blogs (or vlogs) of the sort you would find on youtube; nor are they well produced featurettes you’d find inserted into a half-hour entertainment news show. They exist in some undefined space in between, where the production team (evidently brought up on old media), feel they can simply relax their standards because ‘it’s just for the internet’.

I watch quite a lot of vlogs on YouTube – videos that have been scripted, filmed and edited all by one person, much as a columnist might sketch, write and refine an article. There are some really great vloggers out there who understand this new form, and how it works (some recomendations would be VlogBrothers, Elmify and CharlieIsSoCoolLike, to name but a few).

Now I’m not suggesting Mark Kermode should try and imitate this model himself. Whilst he is a successful critic and writer, there’s no guarantee he’d be a good vlogger anyway. But even amateur video makers on youtube manage to set a white balance before shooting, and avoid using corny wipe transitions in editing – two offences that occur regularly on the Kermode Uncut Blog.

Now like I mentioned, I am glad this blog exists. I love the BBC, and I really appreciate that they’re trying. But I wish they would make more of an effort to understand the principles, uses and possibilities of new media, rather than just assuming its just no-frills old media.

(photo via)


About jackwestmore

Jack Westmore writes music for film, television and media, and is currently based in Cardiff in the UK.
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