Gallipoli and the seeds of social media
By Media commentator/diver David Dunkley Gyimah


Videojournalist/diver preparing his dive

Not so much life flashing before your eyes, more like watching a washing machine on a slow cycle.

Death under the sea, must really be unpleasant.

I’d wrestled for what seemed an eternity to break free from a ribbon current whose strength resembled accelerator waves used for training olympic swimmers, and now I was slamming against armament, 40 inch shells that could go Kapow any moment. Of course bad luck comes in threes.

My oxygen tank, from my hyperventilation was now registering low. And I needed to find 5 minutes minimum for deco time before surfacing otherwise risked the bends. Not really ideal circumstances for laughter therapy. Probably nothing else for that matter.

Eight dives over the course of a week at sea; one day aborted because of treacherous winds. When they force gale winds did subside, I decided to sit it out. The dive was 60 metres, beyond the limits of 35m oxygen tank dives.

Two weeks later back on land, I had what I guessed the makings of a 30 minute doc. The pitch: Inaugural diving expedition to Turkish WWI demiltarised zone, with character-driven group and one special passenger -the great grand nephew of the Allied’s Commander at the time who will

be over-awed by actions of Turkish historian who lost his family during the war

Gallipoli, shorthand for the non historian, was a disastrous battle of mass casualties and bad blood between Turks and Anzac Forces, which included Brits.

100s of thousands of soldiers died; many died at sea, where their vessels lay — War graves untouched for almost a hundred years. Was it morally acceptable to dive these wrecks, I asked in my BBC report (see below).

Trying to sell an idea to the BBC
For the sell, I started doing the rounds in TV city landing meetings with, among others, the genial and uber BBC 3 Commissioner then, Stuart Murphy.

My oceanic exploits seemed to hit the right note in view of what might appear his own hobby, tropical fish. Separating the two of us was a giant tropical fish tank — a coffee table.

Nice! but a touch disconcerting, particularly when I thought the iriatherina wemeri bouncing of the glass were after my cream bourbons.

Three weeks lapsed. Nothing. And the feature started to give off a bad smell.I wondered whether I’d inadvertently been saying “I’ve got a gonorrhea” rather than an adventure doc.

But then I hit on a seamlessly innocuous idea and a call to the BBC World Service’s marvellous current affairs programme Outlook sealed it.

[ I have inserted photos and video stills we ( myself and organiser) took from the expedition.]

Yep, they were interested. For 180 UKP they’d run with an 8 minute feature.

Compared with TV’s potential 4000 UKP and upwards, the nominal price for a buy-in, that’s where a broadcaster airs the story once but you retain the rights thereafter, it was like stubbing your toe on a street slab.

It hurt but there’s nothing you can do about it.

This is a short promo of the video piece I made for my site. There was not Youtube back then.

** Video journalism Moment**

My gear in 2000 powerbook and VX1000

Something happened in the edit room, whose impact in my digital work would be greater that the wall of sound through our head phones.

What was interesting was mostly all the audio was stripped from my camera and not a dedicated (Marantz) sound recorder, I took with me. The latest professional tweaks to consumer cameras provided an improved port for a good ol’ Senheiser mike gun.

Result? Quality sound that even the good people at the BBC with higher frequency hearing did not question. Oh the Darth Vader scuba sound? Old trick. Wrap a condom around the mike with a lenghthy lead and lower it to the surfacing divers.

The package and its transmission was received well, but I still felt as flat as a Paris Hilton middle C. There had been no place to tell my dinner piece (death defying story) and the small point of a mutiny at sea by the English divers, who’d suffered one to many barracks from local fisherman.

Oh yes, my website was a natural repository, but there had to be more.

** From Bi to Quint Media**

Bi-media is a dirty “Pot noodle” of a word if you joined broadcasting to do one thing only. To many however it is the chance to pad the CV with new skills.“Hey mum I can do TV, radio and ride my bike with no hands”.

I’d had my own schooling as a freelancer within the industry, schizophrenically oscillating from radio one week to TV the other. But in my digital shed, slummed over my mac, I wasn’t aware I was upping the ante.

Serendipity was my mother of invention.

Determined to revive the TV bid, I built a small 100k viral multimedia package, a picture gallery and netted a magazine double page for Blue Print— though they would later ask me to write about something else.

One, two three, four, five. A radio piece, TV, magazine-blog, multimedia, and pictures. A former CNN Head of Online, David Brewer, recounted one of his team’s slogan’s: Kill what you can eat”.

To animal lovers look away now. It’s a media tale equivalent of slaughter

The News Agenda as it stands is a legacy of a narrow world, where travel was scant, where the smartest guy in the room was not as Dan Gilmore posits everyone else, but really you the reporter.

This characteristic of broadcast news seemingly cannot be modified because of the finite space, and vast costs incurred in its gathering. Someone must decide. But what if we could take the cost and space out of the equation?

Of course, events, press conferences, pre-scheduled diary items, resignations, all these fulfil the remit of news and the fashioning of a fixed agenda.

Whose agenda? That’s the issue. The one size fits all is withering fast. And just as Amazon solved the issue of space, cataloguing and hence was rid of the “agenda”, could the next generation visual news outlet do the same.

At knock. knock a gathering of networked industry figures I will propose we can using net centric behaviour and videojournalism.

**What is News**

Dog Bites man is not news, Dog bites man is. At least that’s the premise in a nutshell.

But is this in itself outmoded. What ranks as the top talked about subjects on the web can often be no where in a TV schedule. And don’t think they don’t classify as news.

If it’s not in the schedule does that mean it never happened, or wasn’t important? There are things broadcasters could do almost immediately to correct this.

Airwave news’ achilles is structural. It’s damned by a blue Print that was delivered at its birth. Then, there were very few competitors. Now it’s a different story.

Is the interest of the Networked Generation, so different to that of the mainstream? What we don’t know, we never miss.

But the web is shrinking our world and it’s only a matter of time before a a new model becomes the basis of an online News Programme

Good morning Belarus. Economic data out today suggests a downturn in inflation, you might call this the butterfly (chaos theory) theory but let’s connect the dots. Hello India. . .

Behind the scenes — getting ready for the dive.

NOTE to reader:

[To commemorate 100 years after the Gallipoli war, I have reposted this film made from 2001 and radio piece for the BBC World Service]

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