Cannes Festivals Interesting

Cannes 2009: New Media Panel

A panel of film bloggers discuss the new media landscape at Cannes 2009.

Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere recorded some parts of a debate about film journalism and the internet chaired by Eugene Hernandez of indieWIRE.

It featured the following: James Rocchi (MSN Movies and, Sharon Waxman (The Wrap), John Horn (LA Times), Anne Thompson (Variety) and Karina Longworth (Spout).

Part of me rolls my eyes at yet another ‘new media’ debate as the new in ‘new media’ is actually a bit old, but this did contain some nuggets of interest.

Anne Thompson shot a bit of footage at the beginning:

Find more videos like this on AnneCam

Plus, you can read her brief take on the panel here.  

Then Jeff Wells shot the following two sections, which I’m guessing pick up somewhere around the middle until the end.

There are a few points raised here that are worth chewing over.

  • News Speed: Sharon Waxman seems to think the days of long form pieces are over, but I don’t think this is the case. For sites like hers, which wants to be all over the latest breaking news, speed is of the essence. But only part of your audience is interested in that – there is still room for longer, more reflective articles which take more time to prepare. Karina’s point about ‘drowning in noise’ from too many articles is a good one. There is too much duplication amongst movie blogs (and I guess other sites too) but more posts equals more page views, so I’m guessing the trend will carry on.
  • Trade Journalism: Sharon launched The Wrap back in January as a kind of rival to Variety (the biggest movie trade journal), Deadline Hollywood Daily (an influential blog by Nikki Finke that regularly breaks Hollywood news to the point where Variety were reportedly thinking of buying it) and MovieCityNews (a movie news hub with daily links and blogs). The idea, I think, is a good one and although I don’t tend to visit it that much at the moment, it has the potential to grow and certainly become a rival to the trades if the creators play their cards right. I had a feeling someone would bring up that fake Avatar trailer business (and James did), which for the unenlightened was when the wrap posted a trailer for the new James Cameron movie that wasn’t in fact the real thing but a fan made one. But Sharon’s response was right – own up, admit mistake and move one. When you are posting a lot of daily stories, mistakes will happen – the important thing is to have an honest and open corrections policy. 



On this wrapping up segment, things get a little more serious as the wider future of journalism is discussed.

  • People Are Not Paying For News: John Horn brings up this point that has been raised many times before but never satisfactorily answered (maybe there just isn’t an answer yet). When you apply it to current affairs and the whole news ecosystem it is a scary thought. Will ‘serious news’ as we have known it just wither and be propped by publicly funded organisations (e.g. BBC) or trusts (e.g. The Guardian). Obviously the ongoing financial crisis makes it all worse, but when (if?) that goes away, what sort of media landscape are we really looking at in 5-10 years time? 
  • The Costs of Print: Anne points out that the inefficiencies of print (cutting down trees, squirting ink on papers and shipping them around the country on trucks) can be replaced by a new demand for online journalism. I broadly agree, but an age where efficient websites have actually replaced inefficient print publications still (even now) seems like a tempting mirage in the desert – it’s visible but somehow a long way off. 
  • New Models and Smaller Institutions: Sharon’s idea that journalists have to pool their talents and assets to create new models is a good one, but for a generation raised in the old analogue system (if we can call it that) it isn’t so easy to change and adapt to a new one that is still in a state of flux. However, the idea that smaller organisations tight on costs will replace bigger and more inefficient ones is probably correct in the long term.

The main thing that struck me about these discussions is that we have finally reached the point where we can actually see the end of print newspapers.

That’s because titles like the Rocky Mountain News and Seattle PI have actually closed their print operations (although both still have websites) and heavyweights like the LA Times and New York Times are in dire financial trouble.

Although I tend towards the view that print newspapers dying out is part of an evolutionary economic process, this video about the closure of the aforementioned Rocky Mountain News made me really sad.

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo.

Film journalism is just one slice of a larger media pie, but the issues remain the same.

From my perspective things look incredibly bleak for mainstream outlets and only slightly less alarming for smaller, more independent operators.

On a final note, given that the event was moderated by indieWIRE at the American Pavillion (the hub of US activity at Cannes), why wasn’t there official audio and/or video of this on either of their sites?

Am I missing something? 

Props must go again to Jeff Wells, who has audio of the whole event which can be downloaded as an MP3 here.

> indieWIRE
> American Pavillion
> Jeff Jarvis on the death of newspapers