|Zan Azlee is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media www.fatbidin.com|
MARCH 16 — Solo-journalism has been my passion for many years now and it has been the basis of almost all my journalistic work till today.
For the many news reports I do and documentaries that I produce, I would write, shoot, edit and take my own photographs, literally as a one-man crew.
And I get to do all this thanks to all the technology available today. I have small broadcast quality video cameras, laptops for editing and mobile Internet.
Over the years, solo-journalism has started to grow. Big broadcasters such as the BBC, CNN, Channel 4, etc, have been experimenting with the concept.
I, myself, have contributed news stories and documentaries that were produced solo-journalism style to some of these big broadcasters.
But there really hasn’t been an entire news network or agency that has actually converted fully to solo-journalism in obtaining their content.
But things might just change seeing that one of the big international news networks, Al Jazeera International, recently aired a documentary shot fully with an iPhone.
The documentary, titled “Syria: Songs of Defiance”, was aired for the first time two days ago on the channel’s People and Power slot and will continue its run for a week.
It was shot by an undercover Al Jazeera correspondent who is currently in Syria as the network’s cameras are banned from entering and working in the country.
The correspondent also cannot be identified in order to protect the many Syrians whom he talked to and featured in the documentary.
The documentary covers a two-month period when the correspondent travelled inside Syria exploring and observing the Syrian uprising from the perspective of the people.
He spoke to resistance fighters, public protestors, army defectors and other ordinary Syrians to gather testimony of the year-long uprising against the Assad regime.
The correspondent lived among them, went to protests with them and also saw them fight against an unfairly armed government army.
Now, the reason I shoot solo-journalism style is because I like the independence and ease that it gives me to move around without having a crew with me to worry about.
I’m sure the undercover Al Jazeera correspondent had all this in mind too. But the added need of being undercover and not having a camera crew played a more important factor.
Since he could not be seen with a camera crew, the iPhone allowed him to secretly shoot on the city streets, in the villages, and basically anywhere without being noticed.
The technology that the iPhone possesses not only allows a journalist to shoot a story, it actually even allows the journalist to edit and then transmit the video via the Internet.
All of this in one small mobile phone that fits into a pair pf pants pocket. Powerful technology that is fast and simple.
But most important of all, it allows for intimacy, honesty and access, which are three of the main criteria for actual serious journalism.
Aside from watching the documentary on the Al Jazeera channel, it can also be viewed online at www.aljazeera.com.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.